book review

Crazy House by James Patterson & Gabrielle Charbonnet

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Release Date: May 22, 2017

There were no charges. There was no trial. There will be no escape.

Seventeen-year-old Becca Greenfield was snatched from her small hometown. She was thrown into a maximum-security prison and put on Death Row with other kids her age. Until her execution, Becca’s told to fit in and shut her mouth… but Becca’s never been very good at either. Her sister Cassie was always the perfect twin.

Becca’s only hope is that her twin sister will find her. That perfect little priss Cassie will stop following the rules and start breaking them, before it’s too late. Because her jailers made a mistake that could get them both killed:

They took the wrong twin.

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*Thank you Random House UK and NetGalley for the copy in exchange for an honest review.

It’s been a while since I read a dystopian fiction and this is only my second James Patterson book. The first one is the romantic YA First Love, so I didn’t know what to expect with Crazy House. I just know it will be one interesting read based on the blurb.

Cassandra and Rebecca Greenfield are twins and what they all have now is each other. Their mom disappeared a few years ago, the provost, who was sent by the government, said it’s for a mood-adjust and she’ll be back soon enough. But then she didn’t. After years of loneliness, their dad decided that he can’t take it anymore and tried to kill himself. He is now lying in a hospital bed, comatose, waiting for death to consume him. They were approached countless of times for the System-Assisted Suicide (yep, it’s when you want to kill yourself!), but the twins refused. Suffice to say, it is a hard time for the twins. But things are not about to get better. Becca is missing and Cassie has no idea where she might be. She tried to look for Becca but no one seems to know where she is. The last one to know her whereabouts told Cassie that Becca crossed the boundary which is against the law. Cassie is pretty sure that her sister is in trouble but no one in their cell (which is how they call their community) seem to believe that she is missing. Worst they expel her at school and now viewed as a bad citizen and was approached by the System-Assisted Suicide representative to consider, well, suicide.

Becca, on the other hand, was really kidnapped. Only her kidnappers are not keen to ask for a ransom. Instead, they throw her in a maximum security death row prison where every prisoner is teenagers. They undergo series of test on different subjects and was even trained to fight. Sometimes, they are also forced to fight in a boxing ring and are expected to do their best. For what, she didn’t know. They will all kill them anyway without any trial. There is no doubt in Becca’s mind that she is in a crazy house. She just hopes that her twin Cassie is looking for her. That she will stop being Careful Cassie and start breaking the rules instead, or it might be too late for both of them.  

I haven’t read much dystopian fiction, but those I’ve read I can say are totally entertaining. Crazy House may not be one of the favorite but it sure is a good one. Like other dystopian novels, it revolves around problematic social and political practices, where instead of town, it is called a cell. Where there are set of rules to be followed. They have a strict curfew and no one is allowed to go outside the cell’s boundary making the people inside unaware of the world outside. Violators are sure punished and sometimes considered as a bad seed of society. It is not a lovely place, so to speak. Crazy House tells the story about the twin Cassie and Becca. One a rule follower, a perfect citizen, and the other one, the rule-breaker. It was also told in both their perspective, so the readers have an idea on what’s happening to both of them. To Cassie on their cell, realizing that all the things she believed all her life are not what it seems as the government led them to believe. And also to Becca’s struggle and fight to survive in the prison. Both are equally entertaining and it is interesting to read on how things played out with the girls. The plot is intriguing and though there is a mystery circling around the crazy house, it is not that hard to guess as to what it will be.

There is also a bit of romance in the story but it feels forced since there’s not a lot of time given for the romance to develop. The ending also seems abrupt and I feel like there should be more. Don’t get me wrong, it is a good ending as finally the mystery was revealed, but I was expecting more. Like maybe a second book? Because, though things about the prison were revealed, on why it exists in the first place, their main problem is in no way solved. And you don’t end your story that way, right?   

So, anyway, Crazy House, a fast-paced YA mystery thriller added with action and romance set in a dystopian society is an entertaining read. I know James Patterson writes mystery thriller novels so I’m sure his fans would be interested to read his new offering with Gabrielle Charbonnet. And also, to the dystopian fiction fans, Crazy House will sure appeal to them.

RATING: 3.5/5

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(*Photos and synopsis courtesy of Goodreads)

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