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Dark Inside by Jeyn Roberts

Dark Inside (edition 2011)

by Jeyn Roberts

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1632773,133 (3.83)3
Title:Dark Inside
Authors:Jeyn Roberts
Info:Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing (2011), Hardcover, 352 pages
Collections:Your library, Wishlist

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Dark Inside by Jeyn Roberts




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***spoilers to follow***

The phrase "chillingly brilliant" in description of the novel found at the back of the book seems a tad overzealous.

The basic idea is that after a series of tumultuous earthquakes, something is released that turns people into killing machines (not zombies, just murderous maniacs).

We're treated to four protagonists who attempt to differ as much as possible but by the end I was still confusing Mason with Michael and vice versa. The female characters are thankfully much easier to tell apart. Mainly because Clementine is the only redeeming quality of this book, and Aries is everything I hate about teenage girls in YA fiction.

We start in four different places that are in relatively the same place. Mason's mother is in a coma following a car accident so he is not in his school when the earthquake hits. When it does, most of the students are killed. Clementine is in church with her family after the earthquakes but managed to escape when one of the people effected by whatever this sickness is (its never named/discovered) has a moment of clarity and tells her to run. I forget what Michael was doing, I think he's in a car with a friend. And Aries is on a bus with another friend.

I'll start with Aries because honestly she is a terrible character. She's clearly written for simpering teenage girls who fawn over characters that fall instantly in love with strangers. Before the earthquake whilst on the bus with best friend Sara, Aries locks eyes with a Mysterious Boy Stranger. Then the earthquake hits and the bus is smashed. Aries is buried under people, but Mysterious Stranger is right there to help her and Aries is already describing how reassuring his hands are. Never mind that her friend Sara is dead nearby.

Mysterious Stranger is named Daniel, who just after rescuing Aries from the bus and no one else, tells her "A lot of people are going to die and this is only the beginning." How he knows this is never revealed, I think this is a series so I'm sure it'll be revealed but right off the bat it just sounds stupid. Immediately Daniel tells Aries he has to find her somewhere to hide, starting the trend in this novel for girls to be protected by boys and never themselves. Aries utters the cringe-worthy phrases of "Don't leave me, I need you." to Daniel as well as "Please don't leave." A boy she's known for maybe a couple of hours? I haven't known him enough to care about him hanging around, I dunno why Aries is. But Aries is only feels safe around men so I guess that's why. Daniel offers terribly soap opera lines of "you have to take a leap of faith" and "there is no reasoning anymore". Then, perhaps sensing how stalker-ishly clingy Aries is, Daniel bails leaving Aries at a complete loss of how to live without this stranger she's known for a second. I'd be more concerned about my dead, mangled best friend left in the bus, but whatever.

Oh, wait I forgot, there's a fifth protagonist. Some weird entity known as The Nothing. I don't really get why those paragraphs are in there, to me they could have been taken out as they didn't add anything to the narrative.

Clementine is the best part of the book to me, and the only reason I gave this two stars instead of one. Her chapters were most definitely my favourite to read. I liked her mental letters to her missing older brother, plus she spends the bulk of her time surviving alone which is what I like a female protagonist to do. My highlight of the book is the chapter where Clementine is hiding in a dugout from two Baggers, one of whom unknowingly pisses on her, so she goes on a search for a clean shirt only to have it soiled when she's forced to fight for her life.

Michael is forgettable, a 17 year old who becomes a leader of a group that includes a stable Sheriff (or some sort of lawman)? Yeah, I don't buy it. It's probably not Michael's fault he's not memorable, all the males in this narrative are distinguishable only by the length or colour of their hair. Having said that, Michael eventually meets up with Clementine and I didn't catch on that Michael was the same Michael from earlier until the end when I was like "Wait... when did Michael meet up with Clementine?" Maybe that's my fault. But Michael becomes that big, beefy "I gotta protect you even though I've only known you for ten minutes!" type which I also hate quite vehemently.

Mason runs into two people I assume are Native American, the girl being Chickadee. Maybe this is a common name amongst the culture so I don't want to sound rude when I say it sounded strange; but it did. Especially when the guy she's with is given the basic name of Paul. Paul leaves for some reason, sending Chickadee into an Aries-like state of "how could he leave me?" and bemoaning to Mason that he dare not leave her alone because of how much she needs him. Again, I don't know why. Chickadee suddenly reveals she has diabetes, reminding both Mason and the reader that he saw her searching for drugs when she first met him - a fact that I definitely had forgotten. And then she dies soon after Mason makes a cringey self-admission that he hadn't realized how much he allowed himself to care for Chickadee. Ugh, it's just painful to read. Maybe I'm cynical, but teenage love in fiction is stupid and laughable.

Aries meets up with some friends from school and then stumbles upon Daniel, immediately angry at him for leaving her. He then offers yet another cliche soap-opera line of "it's not safe for you to be around me." Which has no effect on Aries who still desperately wants him glued to her side for some reason. I don't get it, he dragged her out of a bus then ran off. What does she need him for?

Mason, who has been struggling with anger all through the story, is given helpful advice from Daniel that he simply must make a choice as to whether or not he turns into one of the crazy people, or Baggers as they're confusingly dubbed. So, it's all about a choice? Or is that just for Mason? And not the parents turning on children, husbands slaughtering wives, etc? And if Daniel knew this, why didn't he mention it earlier? Would have saved everyone a lot of anxiety.

It's not a well written novel. We're constantly told that characters feel scared, exhausted, or cheated but that's all it is. Telling. This author has clearly not though to apply the Show Don't Tell rule to her narrative. There are quite a few grammatical errors, simply horrible sentence structure and confusing paragraphs. More than once I had to skim back to find out when the person talking had come back into the scene.

In the first half of the book we're given a Three Weeks Later, which only leads to us being told in backstory what has happened to each character in those last three weeks. Which begs the question, why bother? It seems cheap to me, as backstory and simple re-telling is easier than writing action and scenes.

At the end of the novel, our four protagonists meet up which seems to mainly serve as a vehicle for each of them to explain how awesome the others all are. Very promising novel, fails to deliver. I think it definitely needed more practiced eyes editing it and a few more rewrites before it was published. Could have been good, instead it's bad. Simple as that. ( )
  littleton_pace | Nov 29, 2013 |
This cover might have been cool without the giant floating eyes at the top. The huge crack in the barren earth from the earthquakes, the hazy ruined city in the background, and the indistinct people walking all work with the story (though it reminds me a little bit of the end of a music video), and I like the title rising up out of the fog, too. Even though black-veined eyes are a thing in the story, they don't really mesh here and are in fact really distracting. Why are publishers so enamored with close-ups of eyeballs anyway? Gross.

Actual thoughts on the book to come later. This one didn't fully work for me for a lot of reasons (too many narrators with indistinct voices; no explanation of what's actually happening to change people except some vague, portentous comments about evil always lurking within humanity and how we maybe deserve to die out) but it's a decent, action-filled debut with a compelling enough premise that I'd like to at least see where it's going. It's a mix of a ton of other apocalypse/post-apocalypse novels and movies, some of which I mentioned in a status update, but it's at least putting them together well, and I hope there is more character definition in the sequel. ( )
  Crowinator | Sep 23, 2013 |
Even after 30 years in the US, my parents still have a very strong accent when they speak English. Eengrish. I'm able to interpret their pronunciations and grammar easily it since I grew up hearing it. But throw another accent at me - anything African, some European, or worst of all any kind of Asian accent other than Korean - and I can't tell you what the heck is being said without some knitted-brow concentration. And I notice I end up replying back in a louder voice, as if that'll help. I pfft myself.

With this book, I find that my childhood "accents" of fantasy&sci-fi and the later piles of textbook logic make it difficult to enjoy the story. The half-a** explanation of why the bad thing is happening...I don't understand you!!

Maybe that's part of why I'm finding Literature so difficult?? Brainpower is another reason, but maybe I'm not flexible enough to take in stories that don't have some magic(-al realism?) or enough of a futuristic tone or satisfying explanations?

Back to this book, there is a huge earthquake and then some people, marked by savagery, lack of remorse, and black veins in the eye-whites, start killing everyone else. The book follows 4 teens as they see the collapse of society and try to survive.

We never learn just what caused all this. How are the earthquakes and killers connected? Why did some change and others not? What's up with the black veins? The few places where the teens think about or discuss what's going on, there's 1) too much to be intriguingly mysterious and 2) not enough to be clear. Both those points made me appreciate Whedon's Firefly/Serenity Reavers even more. With the tv series, such mystery! Who were these psychotic killers who roamed the universe and made even Jayne scared! A friend of mine once explained why she found it pretty cool, the thought that humankind could go to the edge of the universe only to see nothing/everything in the blackness and go insane. With the movie, such a great explanation! It was the government! Sadly, that's kind of believable (see, Tuskegee). And then we're treated to a small group making a mess o' trouble with some clench-worthy action and I laughed and I cried and I laughed and I sobbed...anyway. Back to the book again, it gave an unsatisfying non-answer. Was it a malevolent force?? Was it something in the water?? What?! I don't understand!!

The books seemed to be arranged around chapter-long horror setpieces, building up to each one and wrapping it up. I couldn't see why these 4 particular teens were the narrators, why a couple of them were supposedly natural leaders, why a hard-to-believe little love connection popped up near the end. The list of the 6 different kinds of killers was never well-explained (and really, you made the list 7 items long by including the title of the list as #1? I hope that was corrected after this ARC). One of the characters wanted to find her brother but the others had no drive for anything, nothing that made me care about them.

But this whole book felt like horror, not just survival or zombie or whatever. Maybe I don't understand its accent. ( )
  EhEh | Apr 3, 2013 |
Courtesy of Smash Attack Reads

Interest in Book: I remember first seeing the cover. It spoke loudly to me. READ ME, it said. I think those eyes hypnotize you...*blinks* Then I read the blurb, and post-apocalyptic/dystopia being a favorite genre of mine, I just knew I had to let those powerful eyes have their way...

World-Building: Intense only brushes the surface of this world. Everything starts out normally. People are going about their day, living life, enjoying breathing. Then...BAM! Earthquakes topping the Richter scale rip apart the globe. Multiple schools are bombed. Life everywhere is perishing at an alarmingly fast rate. The survivors of these atrocities are in shock, wounded, terrified. When they see their neighbors and friends, they plead for help, though help is the last thing they receive. Instead, more blood is shed as these once normal humans are now infected with the worst kind of disease: evil. Those immune to these twisted, macabre and horrific ideas of fun flee into the wide open, doing their best to remain one step ahead of their relentless, murderous pursuers. On the surface, the world-building appears simple. But deep down, the rules of the game have changed drastically. Right and wrong , as well as love and hate, are hard to discern.

Characters: The four young protagonists of this hellish existence all start out in different places. I really loved the four different perspectives. I'm a fan of multiple POVs, in general, as it allows us an intimate view of each character. Mason, Aries (but she's a Gemini), Clementine and Michael all start out in very different scenarios. Their experiences and personalities are quite different, but one thing that drives them toward each other is the sheer will to survive. They meet different people along the way, both evil and not, who have lasting effects. Mason, in my opinion, is teetering on the edge between good and evil. Michael is struggling with his perceived cowardice, Aries does not want to be the leader everyone expects her to be, and dear Clementine just wants to find her brother. And then there is Daniel, who appears to be something...more. I foresee interesting things from that guy.

And then we have Nothing. Nothing pops up occasionally during the book, with their chilling views of the world. We don't know much about Nothing, although one can deduce that Nothing is the nothingness that eats away at our souls. The evil and horror that infect our hearts. Using this concept as a character is brilliant. The addition of this voice into the multiple perspectives really brought out the creep-factor. It added to the tone and the overall spine-tingling, chill-inducing effect.

Lasting Impressions: Holy awesome to the sauce, people! Your intense emotions will keep you glued to the pages as your heart palpitations and sweaty hands add to the experience. I compare this book to a grisly automobile accident where you slow down as you pass, unable to remove your eyes from the horror. You will not be able to put this book down! It reminds me of a YA-version of The Stand by Stephen King, though we have not yet met Randall Flagg. Or have we...?

Favorite Quote:
"There are different types of people in the world. There are people who accept what's in front of them unquestioningly. They live in the dark. In defeat. Ignoring what the future might bring or how they might help to make things happen. Then there are people like me. Optimists. They too live in the dark, in times like these, but dream of the light. I trust in the possibilities of betterness. I believe there is more to life than this. I have to. There's no other choice for me."
  SmashAttack | Sep 26, 2012 |
Dark Inside was one of my worst nightmares come to life. It was recommended to me by a friend, who knows I don’t like post apocalyptic type books. She said it was a must read, so I thought why not, I will only have nightmares for weeks. The reason this book scared me was not because it’s a horror or thriller, but the actual thoughts it puts in your head if a situation like this really happened. How would I react? Would I be brave or would I be a coward? Would the darkness consume me? The thing is you wouldn’t really know how you would react unless it was happening.

Dark Inside is about a world were madness has broken out. Natural disasters of major earth quakes and people doing terrorist like acts. The people enveloped in the darkness going mad and doing brutal things, even to people they love. It was just pure mayhem and chaos. This book reminded me of the movie Crazies, just way better because there wasn’t a true reason for why things were happening. I like that the darkness isn’t really blamed on one thing. They bring up multiple questions and factors of why it was happening. My thoughts are in a way the book was telling us we brought it on ourselves.
We follow four perspectives in this book, five if you consider nothing.

Mason, oh poor mason. I felt bad for him. It seemed like his life was already crumbling apart and the darkness just made it worse. It is like that saying, “It can’t get any worse” and it just keeps going downhill for him. I feel like there were times he just wanted to give up, but his strength was amazing. He hung on by the nails and kept going. Some of the secondary characters we meet with him are twiggy and chickadee. I loved chickadee and I really wanted more for her and Mason, but the world they are living in can have a cruel twist for fate. Aries was probably my favorite character. You could tell she was scared shitless and yet still managed to lead a group and try to keep them alive. I feel like her story besides Mason had more depth. There was more involvement with other characters and the plot was more realistic for me. I don’t know how she dealt with Colin and I guess that makes her a better person because I would have left him in the beginning of the book. Colin just reeks of bad news. She is a fighter and I love that about her. The only thing I didn’t like about her was she followed the advice of a stranger, though it kept her alive it didn’t seem real. Though if Daniel was the stranger giving me advice I would have probably done the same. Who doesn’t like a dark and mysterious guy that knows how to save the day, literally?

Then there was Clementine. She reminded me of the typical all American girl. She left her hometown and went on a blind hunt for her brother. I liked the moments when she would “speak” to her brother and I think those little thoughts helped her. She was constantly scared and you could feel her fear come through the pages. You see her fight hard with baggers and run for her life to find her brother. She barely slept for the fear of something happening. I don’t want to say she was in denial, but I think a false hope kept her moving forward. Michael was the person I related with the least. He seemed like a strong character at first, but he became weak for me. I feel like you could have almost taken him out of the book and it still would have been an amazing book. The only thing I really liked about him is that he gives comfort to Clementine. I also liked that he brought in the term “baggers”, which is what they called the people that have been drawn to the darkness.

Nothing, who are you? I feel like I might know, but I don’t want to spoil it. Hopefully we will get to officially meet you in the next book.

Dark inside made me laugh, cry and get completely frustrated. It makes you constantly question everything. The writing was vivid and detailed. The scenes came to life on the page. You could smell the smoke and the rotting bodies. You could feel the sand squish between your toes and the rain chill your bones. Every emotion a character felt, you were right there with them feeling it too. Dark inside kept me up till early in the morning to finish and I can’t wait to see what happens next. Thank you Jeyn Roberts for writing an amazing book and giving me terrifying nightmares for days. I enjoyed everything about this book and I think I am officially a fan of books making the world come to its end. (Even if they will forever scare me.) ( )
  ElizabethMichael | Jul 22, 2012 |
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After tremendous earthquakes destroy the Earth's major cities, an ancient evil emerges, turning ordinary people into hunters, killers, and insane monsters but a small group of teens comes together in a fight for survival and safety.

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