Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books
Released: September 2nd, 2011
Grade rating: C
Moments after several huge earthquakes shake every continent on Earth, something strange starts happening to some people. Michael can only watch in horror as an incidence of road rage so extreme it ends in two deaths unfolds before his eyes; Clementine finds herself being hunted through the small town she has lived in all her life, by people she has known all her life; and Mason is attacked with a baseball bat by a random stranger. An inner rage has been released and some people cannot fight it. For those who can, life becomes an ongoing battle to survive - at any cost!
I wanted to love Dark Inside, I really did. I'd been looking forward to it for months, had heard countless good things about it and was pretty excited when a copy arrived. I started it immediately, and was pleased to find that it started well. Eighty pages in and I was pretty hooked, though I still hadn't made that all-important connection with the four main characters. From that point onwards, everything seemed to change. It was a chore for me to continue reading, and I literally had to force myself to pick it back up each night. It took me almost two weeks to finish, which is almost unheard of for me!
Like I said, Dark Inside started off well. Really well. There were earthquakes around the world, people got all violent and murdery, and there were four main survivors that were now on the run from everyone and everything they knew. As far as post-apocalyptic fiction goes, this book was looking like a contender for the year's best YA title. I honestly enjoyed those first eighty pages, but I'm genuinely sad to say that after that is where our relationship came to an abrupt end.
I don't often write negative reviews, as I usually like most books I read. I have a wide, eclectic reading taste, and I'm easy going when it comes to my fiction. It's a bit hard for me to pinpoint what I didn't like about Dark Inside, as overall it didn't sit well with me. My main problem (aside from a character called Chickadee), and one which is never easy to overcome, was that none of the characters spoke to me. Not a single one. Aries, Mason, Clementine and Michael all had individual stories to tell, different experiences with the earthquakes and subsequent darkness, but I felt disconnected the whole time I was reading them. Their voices seemed flat, and it's possible it's because the book had no first person narrative. I do struggle with that sometimes, especially when the protagonists don't stand out to me or come across as particularly likeable. I think third person is a hard tense to write in when it comes to YA, and often it doesn't work for me. Sometimes it does, but rarely it seems.
I don't want to be too negative here, as I know how much work goes into writing a novel and I don't want to take that away from anyone. I know a lot of other readers loved Dark Inside from start to finish, and even though I found the plot slow and drawn out, I know they didn't. I'm still a fan of this book's premise, story and multiple narration, but the execution made it fall short. I can see myself reading more from Jeyn Roberts in the future but, if this is the start of a series, I probably won't be reading the sequel. I hope you'll still give this book a chance though, as I did. Hopefully you'll find something in it that I missed!