Patterson, James. Crazy House. Hanchette, 2017.
The United States has been split up into cells which are totally controlled by the new government, “The United”. Citizens have jobs chosen for them, and it is forbidden to leave the cell’s boundaries. Seventeen-year-old twins Cassie and Becca are trying to keep their family’s farm going after their mom was sent away to have a “mood adjustment” and their dad was hospitalized after trying to commit suicide.
There have been a number of child kidnappings, and Becca becomes the ninth victim. She is thrown into a secret prison full of teens and tweens who are now on “Death Row”. These “prisoners” are tortured, forced to fight one another, and, overall, treated brutally. Occasionally, one of them is murdered in front of the others. Cassie ends up as a kidnap victim, joining her sister in prison, and experiences what has happened to her twin.
Becca and Cassie work together with fellow prisoners to escape and figure out the prison’s secrets, many dealing with cells, the general masses, and the elite, but unknown, population.
This is the second young adult collaboration between James Patterson and Gabrielle Charbonnet. Although James Patterson is well known for his adult novels, he has been making the foray into the YA world for a number of years now. Gabrielle Charbonnet also writes under the pen name, Cate Tiernan. She has written books for both children and young adults.
This dystopian novel has all the surprises, twists, and turns that readers have come to expect from Mr. Patterson. The prison scenes are, at times, horrific and quite gory--add to that, the experience of having a child murdered right in front of an audience full of kids! There are reasons behind all of the plot devices, but I do not want to spoil any of the suspense for those who have not yet read the book.
Readers will be sucked into this fast-paced novel. The ending is a real cliffhanger, so I am hoping this is the first in a planned series of books. I recommend the book for upper middle, high school, and public libraries, and I give it four out of five fleur de lis!