Book Review

There’s Someone Inside Your House – Stephanie Perkins

“Love Hurts.

Makani Young thought she’d left her dark past behind her in Hawaii, settling in withe her grandmother in landlocked Nebraska. She’s found new friends, and has even started to fall for mysterious outsider Ollie Larson. But her past isn’t far behind.

Then, one by one, the students of Osborne High begin to die in a series of gruesome murders, each with increasingly grotesque flair. As the terror grows closer and her feelings for Ollie intensify, Makani is forced to confront her own dark secrets”

My friend gave me this book for my birthday. I believe she saw “gruesome murders, each with increasingly grotesque flair” and thought ‘This sounds like Nicole’s kinda thing’.

I recognised the authors name from her previous works: ‘Anna and the French Kiss’; ‘Lola and the Boy Next Door’ and ‘Isla and the Happily Ever After’. Although I admittedly haven’t read these yet. 

After reading There’s Someone Inside Your House I’d be tempted to read her other works because it seems like she could be a good contemporary / romance writer, if that were her main focus. I’m not normally one who enjoys novels with a sole focus on romance however, I found the love interest between Makani and Ollie, at times, more interesting than some of the other plot points. 

The blurb and the first chapter, where we meet Haley, intrigued me. Whilst she talks with her friend on the phone, she notices that she puts and egg-timer in one place and finds it in another. I see some people mocking the egg-timer however, for me it wasn’t about the object itself but what the object represents, and the sequence of events it sets up. After all, how many of us have thought we’ve put something in one place yet find it in another? How many of us put it down to absent-mindedness or someone else must have moved it? We search for the most reasonable explanation and don’t give it a second thought. This scenario plays on that sense of secureness, it gives into the irrational part of your mind where you think that perhaps something is indeed wrong. Then suddenly it isn’t so irrational anymore.

It also helps to set up the sequence of events because now:
a) we know when someone has been in the house (although, admittedly we’d probably know anyway due to the title).
and
b) it puts us straight into the mix, something’s happened and we’re already looking for clues.

A problem I encounter after the first chapter is that I felt the pace of the novel slowed considerably. Don’t get me wrong, things happened however, I felt that the focus was off slightly. For example, when Makani spoke about her mysterious past, love interests or other students. There was some curiosity, but not compared to the solving of those gruesome murder.

Also, I find the scene where we finally see what happened to her a little lacklustre. The build up, and even the scene itself, was so drawn out that by the time she told us you can’t help but think “Was that it?”. Yes, she was stupid. Yes, she should feel guilty. But to compare yourself to a murderer? No. 

We find out who committed the murders just over halfway into the book. This surprised me because you can’t help but think “Well, what happens now?”. There’s his capture, who’s next and why commit murder however, she resolved most of the mystery. I think she could have made it work if there had been more torment, perhaps if the killer had saved his friend for almost last and then we’d see them conversing. It’d put more emphasis on the idea that the killer could truly be anyone in our lives. In turn we’d learn more about his character in one crucial scene – and not just a small history brief from the childhood friend now bully, Zachary. 

Side-note: Did anyone else find the Slushy part a little weird? I understand it’s to show that Katie is a nice person or that he likes her, but she made it such a big deal that I expected more meaning in the long-run.

As for the killer himself, I think Makani answers this best when the police officer asks what she thought of him and she says “…He was just a nothing guy. Kind of a redneck. Scrawny. I’ve never really noticed any defining or distinguishing features”. Even before that Ollie said of him ‘”He didn’t seem like a killer. He didn’t seem like…” “Anything” Makani finished’.

On the one hand that’s a brilliant way to not make the readers suspect the murderer. On the other hand it’s also a good way to make your readers not care all that much. It was a surprise, but not all that surprising because I struggled to remember his scenes. (The main tip-off being the ding which went off at his friends murder, which at the time also narrowed down the suspect pool). The problem is that you don’t know the character all that well to be surprised.

I felt the book was slightly all over the place. The murders should be the main plot and romance the sub-plot but sometimes it feels the other way around. On her website (stephanieperkins.com) reads the slogan “The horror is closer than you think” but it didn’t feel like a horror. She also notes “…a fresh take on a classic teen slasher story that’s fun, quick-witted and completely impossible to put down”

Side-note: I did put it down.. for a while. Just putting it out there.

I didn’t hate this book. It was fun to read and some scenes held comedic value. I think she could have fleshed out some of the characters. Most of them we only got to know just before their deaths. Other characters (both with and without backstories) she completely discarded, after they’d depleted their usefulness, without any resolutions.

I feel like it could have been brilliant. The concept itself is brilliant! There is little-else terrifying than knowing that there has been someone walking through your house and tampering with your things. That they could gain access to your house while you’re out or while you’re sleeping. But, at the end of a long day when I’m all ready for bed, I’m not about to leave my light on full blast or jump at any creaks or cars in the night. Nor am I going to restlessly ponder the type of psyche or mind a person must possess in order to commit the acts of violence depicted.

And honestly, if you’re not going to get that, at the very least, can you really call it a horror?



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