Author: Jeyn Roberts
Classification: YA Fiction, Dystopian
Source: Borrowed from the library
Its awkwardness mirrors its emptiness.
Summary (from Goodreads):
Since mankind began, civilizations have always fallen: the Romans, the Greeks, the Aztecs…Now it’s our turn. Huge earthquakes rock the world. Cities are destroyed. But something even more awful is happening. An ancient evil has been unleashed, turning everday people into hunters, killers, crazies.
Mason's mother is dying after a terrible car accident. As he endures a last vigil at her hospital bed, his school is bombed and razed to the ground, and everyone he knows is killed. Aries survives an earthquake aftershock on a bus, and thinks the worst is over when a mysterious stranger pulls her out of the wreckage, but she’s about to discover a world changed forever. Clementine, the only survivor of an emergency town hall meeting that descends into murderous chaos, is on the run from savage strangers who used to be her friends and neighbors. And Michael witnesses a brutal road rage incident that is made much worse by the arrival of the police--who gun down the guilty party and then turn on the bystanding crowd.
Where do you go for justice when even the lawmakers have turned bad? These four teens are on the same road in a world gone mad. Struggling to survive, clinging on to love and meaning wherever it can be found, this is a journey into the heart of darkness – but also a journey to find each other and a place of safety.__________________________________________________________________
This book is a grim, violent, but mostly empty post-apocalyptic novel that disappoints throughout.
Because the narrative is split between 4 different points of view, the reader is forced to read the beginning of the novel 4 separate times. Each narrative shows a different story with different characters, but each is equally grim and disturbing.
However, what Dark Inside fails to do is to make its grim and disturbing content actually matter. There is little significance to be found when characters that are thin and vapid are subject to cataclysmic events in rapid fire and consequently feel numb and empty. In fact, the protagonists feel so numb that one wonders if they are even worth reading about at all.
The narrative itself is filled with awkward language and predictable plot situations. Reading Dark Inside felt a bit like watching every post-apocalyptic or disaster movie ever made in alternating clips.
While many of the plot turns were predictable or at least unsurprising, the writing itself was stilted, awkward, and frustrating. For example, from page 118 of the US hardback edition: "They both made fists with their hands and lightly punched each other."
... Do you mean they fist-bumped?
Again from page 125:
"'I'm looking forward to it. After living with you for three weeks, I can honestly say you need it.'
'This coming from the guy who farts and snores.'
'You've got to stop using that hair gel, kid. It's starting to rot your brain.'
They grinned at each other."
There are several problems with this exchange, but the primary concern is that it is so easy to pick apart. What teenage guy complains about an older guy's farting and snoring? How does snoring make someone gross? If they hadn't bathed in over 3 weeks, why would someone make a joke about using hair gel? How is the hair gel comment an appropriate response to the farting and snoring comment?
With poorly written exchanges such as this, Dark Inside's grim action sequences and divided narrative are made the strongest part of the novel. But they are not strong enough.
Perhaps Dark Inside would have been more successful being told from only one point of view with one really great protagonist. With the 4 narratives, it's too easy for a reader to say, "who cares?" If their situations are in no way significant from others in this world, then why read about them at all?
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