Book Review: Asylum by Jenny Miller

June Foster’s summer is limping along. Her life on a 1950′s farm in eastern Washington is boring–full of milking cows, picking apricots and tending to the chicken coops. Her only friends are her record player and her books. But when gorgeous, turquoise-eyed Frank falls into her world, her life becomes anything but ordinary.

June falls for Frank hard and fast–he’s beautiful, impossibly strong, and capable of things ordinary humans are not. But she’s wary about his father Jonas, a creepy man with an agenda. She should be. Suddenly June is deathly ill, falling in and out of consciousness. When she recovers, June and Frank discover Jonas’s deadly plans for her–and June takes revenge.

Convicted of murder, declared insane and sentenced to life at Washington Pines Sanitarium, June is stuck. Jonas’s plans are reaching her beyond the grave, and she suspects that there’s a lot more going on in the sanitarium than group therapy and electric shocks. Something evil has followed her here, or maybe it was waiting for her all along. If Frank doesn’t break her out soon, she’ll lose her mind–and her life.

Release Date: March 25, 2013
Age Group: YA
Source: Review copy from author

What a great surprise!  I've had Asylum on my Kindle for a while now and I'm so glad I finally read it.  I loved this book---it was unique, had a fast-paced plot, and had tons of mystery and suspense that kept me guessing.

Asylum was a very intense read.  The subject matter is heavy enough on its own: a young girl convicted of murder, sentenced to life imprisonment in an insane asylum.  And all of this happens in the 1950's, when psychiatric care was much more rudimentary than it is now.  I used to work in a hospital and had to regularly work with patients in a locked psychiatric unit.  I know first-hand what those places are like, and to think of June, a mere teenager, being stuck in there for the rest of her life broke my heart for her.  

Each chapter alternates between present and past tense.  I love that kind of storytelling: I think it keeps the book very interesting.  Asylum is a fairly long book with a very detailed plot.  I loved that--too often the plots in YA novels are very simple and that can get boring.  There was nothing boring about Asylum, that's for sure.  Miller kept me guessing for the entire story and I could not wait to find out what would happen at the end.

I did not know this when I started Asylum but there is a magical realism aspect to the story.  I haven't read much from that genre but I really enjoyed that aspect of the book.  It was unique and well-developed.

There were so many things I loved about Asylum, but I had one complaint: I finished the book with a lot of unanswered questions.  I like it when series novels leave some things open, but there were too many issues left open in my opinion. I would have liked more closure.

The open ending doesn't keep me from recommend Asylum, however.  I thought it was a great read and I look forward to reading more from Jenny Miller.


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