Book Review – Dark Inside by Jeyn Roberts
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.
* Note, the book cover I embedded here is from the UK edition – I just like it better than the US cover
I ended up finishing Dark Inside by Jeyn Roberts in one sitting – I hadn’t planned on losing an entire day just reading (I did have other things lined up to do!), but I just got so engrossed in Jeyn Roberts’ debut YA horror novel about teenagers trying to survive in a world gone mad that I kept on hitting the page turn keys to find out what happened next.
In Dark Inside, the world is rocked by massive earthquakes (right out of something like the 2012 disaster film). But even more troubling for survivors, the quakes seemed to trigger an infectious ‘rage’ that turn majority of the population into homicidal psychotic violent murderers (yeah, right out of something like the 28 Days Later horror film).
Okay, the plot isn’t exactly original, but Jeyn Roberts managed to make it read ‘fresh’ to me. Ms Roberts added a twist in the story by introducing a spectrum to the ‘rage’ – some infected people (called ‘Baggers’) turn rabid while others seem to retain their intelligence (while remaining ‘evil’). This makes the enemy even more sinister than in a normal ‘zombie’ book since it’s almost impossible to distinguish some of the infected ‘Baggers’ from a normal when they’re not being actively homicidal. There’s definitely elements of Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend with the suggestion in the latter part of the book of a new world order rising up from the more sane ‘rage’ infected.
Another big plus for me liking Dark Inside was the author’s teen main characters – the book is told from the points of view of *four different teenage survivors (Mason, Aries, Clementine, Michael) who go on the run, even as they try to make sense of and survive their brutal new world. Ms Roberts did a great job giving each kid well-developed and distinct voices and personalities, and more importantly, making them likable (while still remaining realistically flawed). I ended up really emotionally invested in the kids and cared about what might happen to them – especially Mason! (Spoiler alert)
* There’s actually a fifth POV from a character named ‘Nothing’ who seemed to be among the ‘infected’ and whose identity is kinda revealed in the end. Personally, I actually could’ve done without this POV since I mostly found it to be confusing.
And of course, no surprise, the book ends on a ‘non-ending’, setting things up nicely for the sequel Rage Within (due out in August). Pre-ordered? Yup! 😉