Reading/Interest Level: Intermediate, Young Adult
Author: Madeleine Roux
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
The year is 1968. Ricky Desmond, sixteen years old, has been institutionalized after being treated in several facilities for his anger issues and homosexual tendencies. This time, however, he is admitted into Brookline. Things are different at this asylum and he finds that he can’t charm himself out of this place like he had the others. Terrible things are happening at Brookline. The Warden is a monster, people disappear, and others are ‘cured’ with awful operations and procedures. Ricky’s only friend Kay is subjected to shock treatments to treat transgender inclinations and Ricky himself is drugged, starved, and hypnotized to a zombie state. When he arrived at the asylum, he knew his mother would come to get him. Now, realizing that is not going to happen, Ricky decides that escape is the only answer.
Written as a prequel to the first of the Asylum series, this book doesn’t add much information to prepare a reader for the other books. However, we do learn a little about the young Daniel Crawford and a little more about the mass murderer called the ‘The Sculptor’, from Asylum (book 1). Told from the viewpoint of Ricky, the book is high on creepy situations, weird dreams, and blood, but short on characterization. Ricky's journal entries, printed in a different font than the rest of the book (perhaps to simulate a handwritten diary) are difficult to decipher. Photographs of real asylums help to make the book more intriguing, especially as this book recounts the reality of Brookline asylum, rather than the history as in the subsequent books. It is a fast read and might appeal to young adult readers.
*Contains mild language, violence, transgender and homosexual tendencies, forced drug use, and cruelty.