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Non 1001 Book Review: Crazy House James Patterson

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Book Worm and I are hosting a reading challenge to read across the USA in books. You are welcome to join in that challenge at any time before the end. You can read more about the challenge here. Book Worm selected this book as her choice for New York. Keep reading to see what she thought about it. Crazy House by James Patterson
Published in: 2017
Reviewed by: Book Worm
Rating: ★★★
Find it here: Crazy House

This ARC was provided by Random House UK (via NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis from Goodreads: No one gets out alive.

Seventeen-year-old Becca Greenfield was snatched from her home and thrown without reason into a hellish prison known as the Crazy House. To avoid execution, she’s told to shut her mouth and keep her head down.

Becca was never really good at either.

Her only hope for survival is for her sister, Cassie, to find her—that the “good twin” will stop following the rules and start breaking them, before it’s too late. Because the jailers at Crazy House soon discover they made a mistake that could get both sisters killed…

Book Worm’s Thoughts: Confession time (again): I love James Patterson’s adult books especially the Alex Cross series of thrillers. So when I heard he was tackling YA and dystopian YA my first thought was “gimme, gimme, gimme.” Having read this book, I then thought,  “you tried, but you can’t be good at everything.” The next Hunger Games this is not.

Here is a brief outline of the world Patterson is building:

1) It’s set in our future. We know this because authors like J K Rowling and John Steinbeck are referenced historically.

2) Like the Hunger Games, the areas people inhabit are now broken down into “Cells” with each cell contributing something to the overall well being of “The United”. Cassie and Becca are from an agricultural cell and have no idea where anything else comes from.

3) Assisted suicide is encouraged. In fact it is nearly insisted upon because cells can only support a limited number of people. This point is drummed home several times throughout the narrative.

4) Children are all educated to understand the needs of their cell and nothing else. They are then assigned a vocation that will enable them to continue the good work of the cell.

5) When children disappear from the cell they are never seen again and yet there is no outcry, no searching, no big deal made.

So far so good, but when Patterson created this world he failed to keep it consistent. Now to be fair, this may be something that doesn’t upset the target audience at all but it really bugged me. Warning, rant ahead…

Take point #3: assisted suicide.  In this world, couples must apply for a license to have a child and that license is only granted when someone else dies. Our main characters are TWINS and yet there is no explanation of what happened in the cell when they were born.

Related to the issue of population control. If a child can only be conceived when an adult has outlived their usefulness that lives a big gap of time, say 16-18 years, before you have another fully educated adult ready to take on a vital cell role. The mathematics of this don’t make sense to me. You should be granting baby licenses whenever someone hits 18 so you have a constant supply of labour. Can you tell I have been thinking about this?

Point 2: the cell structure. We are told several times the cell Cassie and Becca live in is 12 square miles. This is supposedly a farming community. You are not going to get many fields for farming into only 12 square miles!

On top of these smaller details which seemed careless and really bothered me, the characters behavior in nonsensical ways. There are certain creatures that are key to the plot, who really would not do what the plot requires them to do. When I found out what they were allegedly doing I was stunned. I really began to think that maybe the whole Crazy House novel was Patterson writing about his really weird, whacked out nightmare.

Rant over.

I gave this 3 stars because despite all the issues I have with the book the story did draw me in and I was eager to get to the end and see how all the craziness turned out. This could well turn out to be the 1st book in a series because, while there are no dramatic cliff hangers, there are still things left open that could be developed into a sequel.

Who would enjoy this? I can really only recommend this to the target audience of YA readers or adults who are able to suspend all belief and look past inconsistencies in plot. It’s entertaining enough if you can let go of the problematic elements.

Want to try it for yourself? You can find a copy here: Crazy House

We want to hear from you! Have you read this book? What did you think? 

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