Even though I didn’t like this series, it wasn’t a bad series. I have an old review of this where I complain for four or five pages about things I didn’t like; however, I did keep coming back to it. I’ve read the whole series, so I can’t complain too much. Honestly, if another Asylum book came out, I would read it.
It’s been awhile since I read the series, so some of my memories of it-especially the earlier books-are a little fuzzy, but this is the general idea of what I thought of it. If anyone wants me to do an in-depth review for each book, leave a comment and I will gladly re-read and review them.
The novels and novellas in this series don’t all take place in the same time period or with the same characters. It’s not weird, though, and it’s easy to get into. Even if it’s been awhile since you read the last book in the series, you can pick up the next book and not feel like you might be missing something. Even though you can go months between reading these books and won’t miss anything, if you wanted a quick reading series to marathon, this is it. They read really quickly, and, even though I read each of them whenever they came out, I think it would be nice to be able to read the entire story in a few days. Be warned, though, if you do this some of the flaws and plot repetitions will become more apparent that if you spaced them out.
I was a little disappointed in the lack of backstory for the villains. I say “villains” because I can’t think of a better word. Villain sounds far too dramatic for these characters. Just bear with me. Anyway. I love a good, well-developed villain, especially if their reason for being horrible isn’t any of the stereotypical reasons for villains being evil. There wasn’t much backstory for any of the villains in the three main novels. Since they focused on Daniel, and he didn’t know anything about the villains, I guess it makes sense. I was very interested to read the novellas when they came out because I had hoped that they would give a lot more backstory for The Scarlets and The Bone Artists (the villains in the second and third books, respectively). But they didn’t. It gave a bit more backstory for some of the side characters who had been in other books, but I wanted to know the motives behind what the villains did. The choices characters make that lead them to do evil deeds are often more interesting than the choices the heroes make. Call me weird. I really think I would have liked these stories better with better developed villains and rich backstories.
It seems like each of these books has the same plot, just in a different place with a different frustratingly under-developed villain. Literally the same plot points will happen in each novel or novella, and, if you’ve read two of the books, you can probably roughly predict what happens in the third. Even the novellas are like this. It’s not even a wild, unique plot to begin with. It’s a normal young adult horror plot, over and over and over again. If there had been some significance to the repetition, I would have been okay with it. If there was some complex thing with the backstory and the villains doing the same thing, I would have loved it. The least that you can do is have one of the characters mention that this happens to them literally every summer, and that it’s really weird how they always end up in the middle of this kind of thing, but the author doesn’t even do that.
It’s been awhile since I’ve read these books, so I could be remembering incorrectly, but I think the prequel might have had a slightly different plot? It still mostly followed the same plot, but there were slight differences. I do, however, have some complaints about the prequel. In this book there are two LGBT characters, which is cool, but the author doesn’t develop them much past the fact that they’re LGBT. The main character was bi, but I don’t remember much development past that. His love interest was a trans woman, but she isn’t developed much past that. You can’t just say a character is whatever sexuality or gender they are and then stop their development there. That doesn’t define their personality, or their interests, unless you assume that your readers will assume that every stereotype about that gender or sexuality applies to them. Which obviously isn’t true, and a lot of stereotypes are negative. But if I start talking about this I won’t stop talking about this, so I digress. Let me just end this thought by saying this sort of writing is insulting to the reader who deserves well-developed characters beyond stereotypes.
I wish that the pictures had more to do with the story. Some of them will have something to do with it, but others are just random, creepy looking pictures. I love books with creepy pictures, but if you’re going to have creepy pictures, please have a reason for them other than aesthetic. I do plenty of things just for the aesthetic, so I’m not really someone who can criticize, but still. Miss Peregrine’s School for Peculiar Children is an excellent example of an author using pictures to add to both the plot and the aesthetic of the story.
There were some parts of the books where the author would bring in some interesting side-ghost and then completely drop it. If I’m remembering correctly, there’s some ghost who gives them a spare tire in the third book. They think he’s real until they get back to the diner and realize that he’s not there. This is one of the few specific scenes that I remember. Probably because I’m disappointed in it. There could have been something about that ghost later, but he’s just dropped. Maybe it’s to show that the world is full of ghosts, but you’d think that if that was the purpose there would be a lot more of them. You can’t just drop something like that. It’s bad writing to leave so many loose ends and unanswered questions.
While writing this, I’m realizing that the writing in the series is really forgettable. I can remember specific parts of books I read around the time I read these books, but I can’t remember much from these. I remember the one bit that I mentioned in the last paragraph, but not much more.
These are about on the same level as a lot of the other horror that I’ve read since reading this series. I’ve heard a lot of people praising it, so if you’re into this kind of thing, give it a try. Binge read the whole series on Halloween. I don’t know. They read pretty quickly, why not give it a try?