Book Review: Alone by Cyn Balog

8:31:00 AM

Title: Alone
Author: Cyn Balog
Pages: 288
Genre: YA Horror
Release Date: 01 November 2017
From Goodreads: "When her mom inherits an old, crumbling mansion, Seda’s almost excited to spend the summer there. The grounds are beautiful and it’s fun to explore the sprawling house with its creepy rooms and secret passages. Except now her mom wants to renovate, rather than sell the estate—which means they're not going back to the city…or Seda's friends and school. As the days grow shorter, Seda is filled with dread. They’re about to be cut off from the outside world, and she’s not sure she can handle the solitude or the darkness it brings out in her. Then a group of teens get stranded near the mansion during a blizzard. Seda has no choice but to offer them shelter, even though she knows danger lurks in the dilapidated mansion—and in herself. And as the snow continues to fall, what Seda fears most is about to become her reality."
Thank you to Sourcebooks Fire for providing me with a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for review! All opinions are my own.

This is one of those books where the cover and the synopsis worked together to draw me in and make me want to read it. Unfortunately, this was a huge disappointment for me and...well, that's about it.

I generally explain the plot a bit in my own words, but the synopsis above does a pretty good job at doing that for me. Honestly, I'm just frustrated by this book. It had such an interesting premise that really appealed to me, especially since I've been on a horror book kick lately. Creepy isolated murder mystery mansion, teenagers get into a wreck during a snowstorm and take shelter there, suspicious main character that hears a voice in her head and has been isolated from human interaction for months? Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. I am all for creepy isolated houses and people being stranded in said houses, kind of like The Shining. The story started slow and nothing creepy really happened until about halfway through, but I was fine with it because it still had an overall eerie feeling to it. It was a slow build up to the horror and I was on board with it, again, because it still felt creepy while it was actually getting to the creepy, if that makes sense. When the creepy actually started happening, I was all for it! When it threw in a plot twist, I was taken aback and writing in my notes frantically! When the last chapter happened, I almost threw my Kindle across the room. I actually verbally said, "Are you kidding me? I hate when books do this." Because I genuinely do hate what happened at the end. It made me, the reader, feel stupid and cheated, and it truly ruined my reading experience. I will admit, the very end, the final paragraph, was clever. And there was something that the main character kind of came to the realization of right before the end, which was also kind of cool and twisty. But other than that? Unfortunately, a huge thumbs down from this reader. I don't appreciate being made to feel stupid, and the ending of this book did just that. Which is sad because the pacing was great, the plot itself was intriguing, and the characters were relatively decent. Obviously I'm not going to spoil the ending, but it was definitely the low point for me and ruined my reading experience entirely.

Of course, I don't mean to bash the book in any way, that's not my intention. I actually was really enjoying the slow build mystery that was present throughout the book, the ending just seriously let me down, unfortunately.

Seda was actually a really well-written character. She was basically isolated in a creepy old murder mystery house with her mother and four siblings (two sets of twins) and had no contact with the outside world due to there being no cell phone reception and no land line. It seemed like she had somehow forgotten how to interact with other people in the four months that she had been at the house which was slightly odd but did add something to her character. So did the fact that she heard a voice in her head. While she wasn't necessarily unreliable, she was sketchy at times and did kind of feel like you couldn't exactly trust what she was saying or doing. Seda was normal-ish, I suppose, but did have an air about her that made the reader feel like there was something she wasn't saying at times. Definitely enjoyed her character the most, especially towards the end!

The other characters were also well-written but I just wasn't a huge fan of them like I was of Seda. The twins were super cute, and her mother was kind of out there and I did enjoy them, for sure. The group of teenagers was just eh. They were all your stereotypical teenage characters, not much to really say about them. Again, they were all well-written, but I just didn't enjoy them as much as I enjoyed reading from Seda's point of view.

The writing in Alone was actually my favorite part of the whole book! I loved the way that Cyn Balog slowly built up to the creepy stuff that started happening later on. It was so easy to read and I loved the unsure atmosphere that was constantly present while I was reading. You were never really sure what was going to happen next or if anything that was happening was real or not, or even if it was dangerous. I genuinely enjoyed the writing in this book and would definitely pick up another one by this author simply because of how much I liked reading her writing. It brought such an eerie feeling but you never really understood why and despite the fact that I disliked the way the twist was presented, I actually thought that the final paragraph (or so, I don't exactly know) was pretty clever. I'd be interested to see how other books by this author end and if the letdown twist ending is frequent or if I just grabbed the wrong one. But regardless, the writing was A+ and really kept me guessing and entertained throughout my reading experience.

While I didn't enjoy this book as much as I had hoped I would, I do think that others will enjoy it much more than I did. It has a great spooky atmosphere with easy and enjoyable writing and a main character that will make you question exactly what is going on while you're reading. If you're looking for an entertaining and creepy read, then I'd definitely recommend Alone!

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