Trigger warnings: Child abuse, drug use, psychological torture, more torture, even more unpleasant torture, and did I mention torture
I think this book has scarred me for life. I'm not sure if i can recommend it, actually. Up to about three quarters of the way, through, yes, I would heartily recommend it. But after that ending?...
This book, in my mind, is like one of those psychological horror movies like Saw written down for a YA audience. In fact, I don't even think it should be for Young Adult. It should be just for Adult. Not for kids, certainly...
Okay, here it is. Six people from different walks of life are kidnapped and when they wake up, they're in this underground bunker, a long way under the surface. There's no food. There's six rooms, one for each of them. There's a kitchen and bathroom.
There's no other rooms for them to walk about. There's a hard bed for each of them to sleep in. There's cameras and microphones embedded into every room - including the bathroom, watching them, hearing what they say.
How to say this?...The whole book is literally all of them being tortured by the kidnapper(s), not only physically, but also psychologically, in one long torturous experience.
Yeah. It's never explained who the kidnapper is. He's watching them constantly. If they try to break the cameras/microphone, the cameras emit this deadly acidic spray which causes them to scream in agony. He also controls the heating. The lights switch on and off at a certain time every day, and when they go off they're plunged into ultimate darkness. Our main character is also scared of the dark.
If they try to escape, the kidnapper gasses them - yes, he can release knockout gas from the vents in the ceiling. Early on, they start making shopping lists and holding it up to the camera, and the kidnapper will send down food.
There's this lift which comes down the shaft every day - it's the only way out, and it only comes down once every day. If you anger the kidnapper, he stops sending food down at all.
At one point, the kidnapper seeks to "punish" the victims for trying to escape. He turns the heating off so that it's freezing cold for hours. Then he turns the heating on at full blast so that it's now boiling hot for hours. The characters try to light a fire at one point - and he makes water come out of the vents so that the fire goes out.
Many times during the book, the kidnappers also plays horrendous music at a deafening volume through the walls of the bunker. For hours on end.
Okay. So that's the torture you're in for if you read this.
Want to hear the characters?
1) Our main character - sleeps on the streets, has a pretty good backstory actually
2) A little girl - Yes, that's right, she's like 6 or something. She's subjected to the same torture as everyone else. It's just...sick. I mean seriously?
3) A guy who's a heroin addict (although I came to like him eventually)
4) A woman who's pretty unpleasant and only cares about herself (she starts hiding food at one point)
5) A businessman who is pretty much there for the readers to hate, he's just not very nice
6) An old man who is very distinguished and intelligent - I found him to be one of the best characters. (He's also suffering from a degenerative disease and it really started to take its toll on him)
And...yeah. The characters are awesome. They're realistic and make this book really great. I really did enjoy this book.
Unfortunately, stuff starts happening towards the end...let's just say that the kidnapper gets angry with them. No more food. More torture. Yet more torture. The heroin addict is of course starved of his drugs. It becomes an endless slog to survival.
And...I didn't enjoy that ending. it was really, really powerful...but this book scarred me for life and I don't think I want to pick it up again.
It definitely kept me reading though. No lie about that. And apparently this book won awards too, so I'll give it a moderately high rating.
It's just...the content in this book isn't really for younger readers. It's very powerful, very very disturbing...and let's just say it doesn't go where you'd expect.