As an aspiring author of teen fiction, I’ve currently been picking up any books that catch my eye in WHSmith. Dark Inside by Jeyn Roberts had a blurb and front cover that drew me in; mostly because it mentioned nothing about supernatural love triangles, which was nice and refreshing.
The story follows the lives of four teenagers as they fight to survive by any means necessary. None of the four know each other, but when a global disaster brings something out of the dark, their paths intertwine. Suddenly husbands turn on wives, children murder parents, and strangers fight to the death.
The darkness reaches out to all the suppressed urges of the brain, whispers to the mind until people give in to them. Usually these urges tend toward the murderous side. Most of them seemed crazed and unreasonable, but a narration simply titled “Nothing” explains how some of them still regain consciousness on occasion.The darkness is punishing humanity for the sins it has committed.
One particularly gruesome point is Clementine’s introduction. Whilst sat with her parents in a town hall meeting, some of the villagers turn their weapons on their neighbours and begin the massacre. Clementine’s mother receives a premonition (which is unexplained as to how or why she knows what she does), and she saves her daughter.
The other three protagonists’ introductions are less horrible, but equally as depressing. Mason’s mother dies in a car crash, and shortly afterwards his school is bombed. The other two protagonists spend the entire book wondering whether their loved ones are alive… but don’t seem all too upset by it.
All four of them manage to find other survivors along the way. Aries meets the mysterious Daniel, and for the majority of the book I was left wondering how he knew so much about the apocalypse. She also finds several of her classmates (none of which had much personality) and I was surprised so many of them survived. Mason meets two people; one of which has diabetes, but insulin is a rare thing because of its expiry date.This was a nice touch, showing that despite the end of the world, some problems in people’s lives still remained.
Michael accidentally led a group of survivors to their sticky end. Michael left them to die in order to save his own neck. People do things they regret when they panic, and this came across well in this scene. Michael then met up with Clementine, who had been alone up until that point, and had a rather horrible experience with a urine-covered shirt.
The beginning set the scene nicely, but the middle of the book dragged a little with the they-found-us-but-we-escaped scenarios. Eventually though, it became apparent that all four of the main characters were heading to the same destination: Vancouver.
Sure enough, fate led them to one another, and in a final stand against the “Crazies” a nicely timed Earthquake occurs after three weeks without one. The infected fall to the ground and everyone escapes to the beach. Two of them stay behind to ‘create a diversion’ and join the rest of the group only a few minutes later covered in blood. This fight isn’t narrated, and I wondered how two teenagers managed to fight a horde of what was described as ‘dozens if not hundreds’ without being hurt or killed.
Once on the beach, the small group of survivors find they are not alone. A bigger group of survivors is nearby, and it is suggested that they’ve made it to safety. Daniel once again disappears, but this time his disappearance makes sense. I guessed the plot twist just before I turned to the final page, but I was glad I hadn’t figured it out sooner.
So overall, I found this book compelling and an interesting story. I would have liked some more differentiation between the four narrators, as the two girls felt similar to one another, and Michael sort of faded away towards the end. The ending felt rushed, and it was never properly explained as to why particular humans weren’t plagued by the darkness. However, these answers may be in the somewhat unnecessary sequel.
However, the concept was interesting, it was well-written, and it made me contemplate how unimportant most things in everyday life are. If a book can make me seriously consider a point of view, it is well worth reading it. I hope to see more from this author soon.