6 Rated Books Book Reviews

Book Review: Dark Inside by Jeyn Roberts

Title: Dark Inside

Author: Jeyn Roberts

Genre: Speculative Fiction, Apocalypse, Young Adult

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children’s (US) / Macmillan Children’s (UK)
Publication Date: November 2011 (US) / September 2011 (UK)
Hardcover: 336 pages

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.

Stand alone or series: Book 1 in the Dark Inside series

How did I get this book: Bought

Why did I read this book: It’s a new YA apocalyptic disaster novel with an SF/horror twist (aka Thea crack). I’ve been in the mood, so of course I had to buy this one!

Review:

The greatest civilizations of man have faced one unfailing inevitability: collapse. By flood, fire, or mysterious disappearance, mankind’s empires have risen and fallen, and the time has come once again for the world to purge itself of civilization.

Mason, in shock after his mother is killed in a car accident, learns that his school has been bombed and all his friends are all gone.

Aries (who is actually a Gemini) is on the bus with her best friend when a vagrant start making terrifying threats and predictions – and then the ground breaks open and all hell is unleashed.

Clementine obediently follows her parents to the town hall in her small, rural town, only to find some kind of madness has taken over some of the friendly adults she has known for her whole life. Following her mother’s desperate instructions, Clementine flees and starts to make her halting way west towards her brother in Seattle.

Michael watches in horror as a deranged driver gleefully murders an innocent bystander – and his horror only grows when the police and others at the scene start killing each other.

Mason, Aries, Clementine, and Michael may not know each other yet, but as they make their way through a violent, crazed world, their paths intersect and converge. An ancient evil has stirred from its long dormant slumber, and while these four teens struggle to survive, a great Nothing filled with madness and fury lurks, hungry to consume anyone and anything in its path.

The concept of Dark Inside is based on a familiar concept – in which trusted friends and rational humans somehow snap (either based on some external pandemic or ailment), and try to murder anyone in their path. Essentially, Dark Inside deals with the same sort of moral conundrums that a zombie outbreak would deal with – sans zombies. Films like The Crazies or books like David Moody’s Hater and Dog Blood have dealt with this particular type of violent senseless insanity. Dark Inside, however, takes things a step further by attributing a more supernatural force (a malignant evil inherent beneath the earth and within man’s psyche) as responsible for the apocalypse, which is a nice twist (if, at times a little cheesy as the narrative alternates between the four teen characters AND a voice for the “Nothing”, aka someone afflicted with this madness).

In a story that is quintessentially familiar – the end of the world and chaos abounding – the differentiation needs to come from characterization and writing, and I’m happy to say that in both of these facets Ms. Roberts does a fantastic job. The four alternating narrators are a nice touch, each exploring a different aspect of the apocalypse and each feeling and sounding distinct. While my favorite storylines involved Clementine and Mason – the two solo travelers – I also enjoyed Aries’ journey as she grapples with a group of fellow students, and Michael, who is refreshingly UN-heroic (honestly, his turning point in the story is my favorite chapter). Most of all, I loved Clementine’s narrative as she focuses on reaching her older brother, no matter the cost, and her internal asides as she addresses him and asks for his advice. On that note, also refreshing about this apocalypse is the fact that, save for Aries, there is no real romance in sight. This is a plot driven by fear and motivated by the need to keep moving, not so much romantic attachments between characters.

By the end of the book, Jeyn Roberts gracefully manages to tie together each of the seemingly disparate storylines and unites our protagonists for their ongoing ordeal. While some parts of the novel are a little hokey and preachy (delineating the evils of mankind and the darkness within), I found myself thoroughly enjoying the story and genuinely caring for the characters. I’ll certainly be back for more.

Notable Quotes/Parts: From Chapter 1 (told from the perspective of “Nothing”):

NOTHING

I’m standing at the edge of existence. Behind me, a thousand monsters descend. Their disguises change with each stride.

When they look in a mirror do they see their true selves?

Arms open wide. In front of me is nothing. No one ever knew how existence would end. Sure, they made assumptions: fire, flood, plague, etc. They studied the skies for locusts and watched for rain. They built their cities, destroyed the forests, and poisoned the water. Warning signs left behind in the ruins of ancient civilizations have been misinterpreted. The sins of mankind are always to blame. But who would have guessed it would be so gray? So empty.

Is there really a way back?

Hello? Is there anyone there?

Sorry, wrong number.

There are too many thoughts to cover in such little time. I knew they would find me. I’m glowing in the moonlight. My darkness was too bright to hide forever. They find all of us eventually. They play the odds, and they’re up a thousand to one.

In front of me is nothing. No bright lights, no darkness. No energy. Just nothing.

There is no future because we no longer have a past. Our present is devised of basic survival, and it’s about to end.

They have made sure of that.

I am Nothing.

I am existence.

I am pain.

I kneel down in the dirt and write some of my last words. I’d speak them, but there is no one left to listen.

GAME OVER

Rating: 6 – Good

Reading Next: Cleopatra’s Moon by Vicky Alvear Shecter

Buy the Book:


Ebook available for kindle US, kindle UK, nook, google, apple, kobo & sony

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11 Comments

  • Jared
    December 2, 2011 at 5:46 pm

    “A zombie book – sans zombies.” Seriously.

    I also found this book a pleasant surprise. All the interstitial bits (like the one you quoted) were too melodramatic for me, but I wound up really liking the two female protagonists and the overall tension. (And, as you note, the lack of obvious romance.)

    (It makes me sound a little lazy [or dumb], but I kept on confusing the two male protagonists. They thought alike, acted alike and both had “M” names. Why couldn’t one have been a “Chuck” or “Brian” or something?)

  • Aaron
    December 10, 2011 at 11:26 am

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book as well and found the preachy areas more acceptable than most probably will, glad there wasn’t too much romance because we all know how those end but loved the brief friendships as they kept me guessing. I myself felt that the gathering of the protagonists was a little quick but was done believably. Looking forward to a sequel and hopeful it becomes a seires.

  • Trina B
    January 21, 2012 at 8:18 am

    I also really liked this book. It definitely had that zombie feeling without the zombies. Enjoyed your post and your review, I’m looking forward to reading more.

    I also reviewed this on my blog if you want to take a look. Thanks!

  • Jay
    January 26, 2012 at 12:24 am

    My favourite characters were also Clementine and Mason. I really enjoyed these books. I agree on the fact that its nice that the book isn’t lead by a love story but as the the friendships grow stronger i hope that maybe something will grow into more. I also got the two boys mixed up in the beginning!
    Cant wait for the sequel and i would love for it to become a series.

  • tryna
    April 3, 2012 at 6:11 am

    I have to do a book report on this at school, and I’m thinking it’ll be a good one!

  • Owl
    June 5, 2012 at 10:55 am

    OMG! The first chapter of this book (Nothing) was absolutely awesome! I havent read as good a first chapter before or since reading it! This book was completely epic and I couldnt stop reading it! Cant wait for the second one to come out!!

  • Book Review for Dark Inside by Jeyn Roberts
    August 20, 2012 at 11:06 pm

    […] The Book Smugglers Me, My Shelf and I The Overflowing Library […]

  • fuafut
    October 8, 2012 at 3:00 pm

    This book was AWESOME! I loved it! It was SO exiting! 😀

  • Megan
    December 10, 2012 at 11:20 am

    LOVED IT! I think the lack of romance was ok, but it was evident in the end that the next book will have plenty. I think the original concept of it was the best thing about it. Looking forward to reading the second book!

  • JuliaFM
    January 22, 2014 at 9:54 am

    If you loved this series please consider signing the petition to help get the third book in the series written! Even though Jeyn Roberts says there’s more of the story to tell, the publisher is saying it’s a two book series, let them know we want to the rest of the story: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/dont-leave-us-in-the-dark

  • Anonymous
    June 6, 2017 at 1:35 pm

    yes it is my homie

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