The Waking Dark

Featured
 
4.0 (2)
 
3.7 (1)
2073 0
The Waking Dark
Age Range
14+
Release Date
September 10, 2013
ISBN
978-0375868771
Buy This Book
      
They called it the killing day. Twelve people dead, all in the space of a few hours. Five murderers: neighbors, relatives, friends. All of them so normal. All of them seemingly harmless. All of them now dead by their own hand . . . except one. And that one has no answers to offer the shattered town. She doesn't even know why she killed—or whether she'll do it again.

Something is waking in the sleepy town of Oleander's, Kansas—something dark and hungry that lives in the flat earth and the open sky, in the vengeful hearts of upstanding citizens. As the town begins its descent into blood and madness, five survivors of the killing day are the only ones who can stop Oleander from destroying itself. Jule, the outsider at war with the world; West, the golden boy at war with himself; Daniel, desperate for a different life; Cass, who's not sure she deserves a life at all; and Ellie, who believes in sacrifice, fate, and in evil. Ellie, who always goes too far. They have nothing in common. They have nothing left to lose. And they have no way out. Which means they have no choice but to stand and fight, to face the darkness in their town—and in themselves.

Editor reviews

2 reviews

Creepy, Spooky Horror Tale
(Updated: October 21, 2013)
Overall rating 
 
4.7
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0
I'm a huge fan of YA horror novels and THE WAKING DARK fits the bill!

What worked for me had to the horror element that was creepy and very suspenseful. This novel reminded me of Stephen King with the subtle horror elements woven throughout.

There's a whole cast of characters with their own tales: Jules, the local trailer trash who wants her own escape, Cass, who's big future is cut short, Daniel, son of the 'crazy' preacher man, and West, who can't get over the death of his friend Nick.

My favorite character had to be tough girl Jules, who lives in the trailer park with her meth addict uncles but shows vulnerability that doesn't make her the stereotypical 'bad' girl.

Well-written passages that show readers the horror of what comes over the residents of the small Kansas town when they follow their darkest, ugliest impulses. Warning: Don't read this alone in the dark! The images are guaranteed to stay with you long after you close the book. Just like a Stephen King novel.

There's some very edgy, and yes, graphic scenes when the murders start accelerating in town. These scenes reminded me of King's The Dome, where a similar situation happens with the residents of a small town trapped inside and the madness that is unleashed.

I did have some issues with where the madness comes from and did roll my eyes thinking, oh, no, not that. But still the whole premise of something making your wishes come true, especially if they are ugly and dark is the stuff of horror novels. Wasserman delivers on her promise to scare the crap out of you. All I know is I loved this novel.

Creepy, intense tale that you won't want to read in the dark. A must read for fans of YA horror!
Report this review Comments (0) | Was this review helpful to you? 0 0
A Definite Must for Horror Lovers
Overall rating 
 
3.3
Plot 
 
2.0
Characters 
 
3.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0
What I Liked:
The Book of Blood and Shadow began with blood and murders. The Waking Dark tops that, opening with twelve deaths in five outpourings of seemingly random violence, each witnessed by one teen who survived. For the most part, The Waking Dark follows these five teens: Daniel, Jule, Ellie, West, and Cass. Wasserman uses a third person narrative style that does occasionally drift to other characters temporarily, but 95% of the book is about these five.

The Waking Dark follows along a basic horror story arc. The murders occur, but then life settles a bit and normalcy seems to return, only not quite. Something dark lurks beneath the surface of the people of Oleander, Kansas. It's almost as if the id is taking over, people's basest and most secret desires taking control; instant gratification mattering more than social mores. Wasserman's tale is unrelentingly dark and creepy.

The large cast of characters is both a boon and a drawback. None of them quite get enough characterization for me to be wholly invested in them, a fact exacerbated by not ever getting to see them before the Killing Day, as the day of the opening comes to be known. However, the large cast is an intriguing one. Daniel's the son of a drunk, who calls himself the Preacher, and judged by the town for that. Jule, short for Juliet, is part of the infamous Prevette family, meth heads, meth makers, and meth dealers, and she's trying to figure out if she can be free of that taint. Ellie is driven by her faith in Christianity. West is a popular football player, trying to hide that he's in love with a boy. Cass is popular and smart, babysitting kids (and she hates kids) in order to save up enough money to escape Kansas for college. There aren't many YA books written about kids like these, except maybe those like Cass, so reading about them was refreshing.

The best aspect of The Waking Dark is Robin Wasserman's writing which is positively beautiful. That woman can turn a phrase. This raises The Waking Dark above the average horror offerings. She does use the horror to make commentaries on human nature, war, and faith. She manages to make the novel quite meaningful, though the plot is something straight out of a horror film, sort of like The Bible Belt Goes Bananas.

What Left Me Wanting More:
As may be obvious, what I didn't care for was the plot. The whole thing just seems way too absurd to me. I feel like this could have been a great idea, but the explanation for how this madness came to the town strikes me as utterly ridiculous. Not buying into that, it's really just violence for violence's sake, which is all very well, but horror really isn't my genre of choice.

The Final Verdict:
Horror fans, get thee to a bookstore, because Robin Wasserman's The Waking Dark is a creepy thrill ride full of death and blood from the first page to the very last ones. Even if you're not much for horror, The Waking Dark may be worth it for Wasserman's beautiful prose.
Report this review Comments (1) | Was this review helpful to you? 0 0

User reviews

1 reviews

Overall rating 
 
3.7
Plot 
 
5.0  (1)
Characters 
 
3.0  (1)
Writing Style 
 
3.0  (1)
Already have an account? or Create an account
A Great Horror Read
Overall rating 
 
3.7
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
3.0
Writing Style 
 
3.0
I am not normally a horror/scary reader, so I approached The Waking Dark cautiously. I was hoping this book would hit the sweet spot between being scary enough to creep me out a bit, but not being so scary I had nightmares. And that is exactly where The Waking Dark fell on the scariness scale.

The book opens with the bang of a gun and the slamming of a car into the tree, as well as several acts of horrifying and senseless violence that leaves several town citizens dead, and that’s only the beginning of this violent ride. I will say I never found anything in the Waking Dark particularly graphic or gorey, but there is a LOT of violence, often implied more than outright stated, which makes it all the more eerie. So just know if that’s something that bothers you, this might not be the book for you.

After the initial event of this book takes place, a twister blows through Oleander, Kanasas, and things in the town pretty much get turned upside-down as well. The town is effectively placed on complete lockdown after the twister, which happens very early in the story, so at its heart, the story of The Waking Dark is one of a small town collectively going violent, trapped together.

This isn’t a particular original premise. Indeed, it seems a popular one for horror books and movies–what can be scarier than thinking the place you’ve lived and have thought of as a quiet and safe place has monsters roaming in it that wear the mask of your neighbor? How utterly disturbing is it to think that perhaps your mailman who always smiles and waves has thoughts of opening gunfire one day? These kind of questions are what really makes the premise of The Waking Dark work for me. Yes, there may be outside sources that compel people to indulge in violent dreams, but is this what has always been lurking in them, waiting to bubble up to the surface? You don’t necessarily need paranormal creatures for a scary story. Just plain human nature and evil. Add in the idea of not being able to get out of such a hellhole and being completely and utterly trapped and then you have a fantastic plot.

However, I have to say as much as I enjoyed the premise and the way the story of The Waking Dark played out, I did have a few problems. None of them that major on their own, but together they did lower my opinion of the book a little bit. The first was that I felt the characters all missed out on excellent characterization a little bit just because of the nature of the story. There’s so many people in this book–the entire town, really– and even the main characters miss out on a lot of ‘screen time’, so to speak, that I think could have improved the overall story. Some of them were excellently done– I felt I really understood Jule, West, and Ellie by the end, and as such, was most intrigued by the story of how they reacted to the killing day and how they handled the madness that happens in the town afterwards. Unfortunately, two of the main characters–Daniel and Cass–never quite got to that point. Don’t get me wrong, I still found them interesting, but just not as well-rounded. It’s extremely unfortunate in Cass’ case because she really should have been the most complex character ever.

Another issue I had is that even by the end, there was a lot left unanswered that I felt really needed to be answered. We get to know the very surface of the why the citizens of Oleander started acting like they did, but it’s not really a sufficient answer. And I know that may be a bit of the point–would it have mattered anyway? Are these people really this violent, or was it something that happened to them? And I find those questions interesting, but as a reader, I’d just really like to have a bit more of a reason before even getting to the point where I can start accepting those questions myself. And the last issue was the writing. I’ve seen several people who really love Waserman’s writing, but it seemed exceptionally wordy to me, especially at the beginning of the chapters. There was just a lot of. . . excess information, given, and I guess that sometimes takes me out of the story a little bit.

Final Impression: The HUGE cast of characters hurt this one a little bit as at times it felt a bit unfocused, but aside from that, I really enjoyed The Waking Dark. I’m not a typical horror reader so I was a bit worried, but I thought it hit a perfect spot between being incredibly disturbing at times, but it wasn’t particularly gory, which always gets me. I really enjoyed the premise of this book and the way it was executed. Overall, it was a great October read.
Report this review Comments (0) | Was this review helpful to you? 0 0
Powered by JReviews

FEATURED GIVEAWAYS

Latest Book Listings Added

In A Flash
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
A riveting and dramatic story of two devoted sisters, Italian...
Welcome to California: A Little Engine that Could Road Trip
 
4.7
 
0.0 (0)
The Little Engine That Could is on the move and...
The Alpactory: Ready, Set, Go!
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
Welcome to the Alpactory! These wacky alpacas are here to...
I Like to Share!
 
3.5
 
0.0 (0)
Celebrate the joys of learning to share in this exuberant...
The Infinity Courts (The Infinity Courts, #1)
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Westworld meets Warcross in this high-stakes, dizzyingly smart sci-fi about...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Protect the weak. Safety for all. Power without virtue is...
If Only...
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
Bestselling author-illustrator Mies van Hout employs vivid creatures in a...
Like a Giant
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
A beautiful story about imagination and taking your time to...
A Rosa Le Encantan Los Carros/Rosa Loves Cars
 
4.5
 
0.0 (0)
Averiguemos con quâe juguetes juegan Rosa y sus amigos hoy!...
The Duck Who Didn't Like Water
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
See a duck take to the water of friendship in...
Goodnight, Little Llama
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
Meet Little Llama, who is about to make a very...
The Boy and the Sea
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
A picture book meditation on curiosity, wonder, and finding one’s...
In Your Cozy Bed
 
3.5
 
0.0 (0)
A soothing bedtime board book from the creators of In...
Chicks Rock!
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Rocker Chick overcomes stage fright to find her voice in...
The Beach (Bluey)
 
4.5
 
0.0 (0)
Read along and join Bluey's latest adventure! ...
All About Bluey
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
Meet Bluey! This lovable and imaginative Blue Heeler puppy is...

Latest Member Reviews

The Infinity Courts (The Infinity Courts, #1)
 
5.0
"THE INFINITY COURTS is a stunning and dazzling YA fantasy about morality, humanity, and the afterlife. Nami is truly excited..."
Curse of the Specter Queen
 
3.7
"CURSE OF THE SPECTER QUEEN was an intriguing YA historical fiction with code-breaking, good friends, and imminent danger. Sam works..."
The Sky Above Us
 
3.7
"What worked: Unique coming-of-age story that tackles grief and tragedy. Told through the eyes of six teens, this story starts..."
Instructions for Dancing
 
5.0
"INSTRUCTIONS FOR DANCING is an engaging YA contemporary about romance, family, and coming of age. Evie stopped believing in love..."
The Tragedy of Dane Riley
 
4.3
"THE TRAGEDY OF DANE RILEY is a compelling YA contemporary read about family, grief, depression, and mental illness. Dane is..."
The Shadow War
 
3.3
"What worked: Intriguing mix of Sci-fi with historical set during WWII. There is a lot going on in this engaging..."
Kneel
 
5.0
"Russell and his friend Marion live in Louisiana, and hope to use their skills at football to work their way..."
A Season of Sinister Dreams
 
4.3
"A SEASON OF SINISTER DREAMS is an engaging YA fantasy that follows two young women, Evra and Annalise. Annalise lives..."
I Can See Clearly
 
3.3
"Luc Ponti comes from a strong Italian family, and his father (an NCAA point guard, Princeton grad, Special Forces and..."
Fire with Fire
 
4.7
"Dani Rivera may excel at every part of her dragon slaying training, but she would rather focus on being normal..."
Better Together
 
5.0
"BETTER TOGETHER is a delightful and charming YA contemporary read about sisterhood, family, and healing. Siri lives with her mother..."
Get a Clue: A Bookish Boyfriends #4
 
4.3
"In this fourth book set at Reginald R. Hero High, we meet Huck and Win, the brother of Curtis from..."
The Fault In Our Stars
 
5.0
"I had enjoyed this book to great extent. I loved the relationship connection between the two characters and how the..."
The Cruelest Mercy (The Kinder Poison, #2)
 
4.7
"THE CRUELEST MERCY is an intriguing second book in an enthralling YA fantasy series. After the rush and danger of..."
Heiress Apparently (Daughters of the Dynasty, #1)
 
4.0
"What worked: This was a fun take on Crazy Rich Asians meets descendants of Empress Regent of China. Gemma..."
The Box in the Woods (Truly Devious, #4)
 
5.0
"THE BOX IN THE WOODS is a fantastic continuation of Stevie's story with a whole new cold case to solve...."
 
4.7
"Miles "Pudge" Halter seeks for a "Great Perhaps", and attends Culver Creek, a boarding school. Yet, he finds himself with..."
 
5.0
"To say that this book was one of my most anticipated releases for 2021 is an understatement. After the impact..."
 
5.0
"Oh my goodness what a way to end this series! I honestly took a little longer to finish this book..."
 
5.0
"I absolutely loved this sequel. The first one was such a good set up for this book. Nita is free..."