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The Waking Dark

The Waking Dark

4.0 10
by Robin Wasserman

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The Waking Dark is “a horror story worthy of Stephen King” (Booklist) and “a book you won’t soon forget” (Cassandra Clare, author of the Mortal Instruments series)—perfect for readers of Gillian Flynn and Rick Yancey.
They called it the killing day. Twelve people murdered, in the space of a


The Waking Dark is “a horror story worthy of Stephen King” (Booklist) and “a book you won’t soon forget” (Cassandra Clare, author of the Mortal Instruments series)—perfect for readers of Gillian Flynn and Rick Yancey.
They called it the killing day. Twelve people murdered, in the space of a few hours, their killers also all dead by their own hand . . . except one. And that one has no answers to offer the shattered town.
Something is waking in the sleepy town of Oleander, Kansas—something dark and hungry that lives in the flat earth and the open sky, in the vengeful hearts of its upstanding citizens. As the town begins a descent into blood and madness, five survivors of the killing day are the only ones who can stop Oleander from destroying itself.
They have nothing in common. They have nothing left to lose. And they have no way out. Which means they have no choice but to stand and fight, to face the darkness in their town—and in themselves.

“Suspense, chills, gasps—all that and a gem-like writing style that will make you shiver with beauty and horror. A book you won’t soon forget.” —Cassandra Clare, author of the bestselling Mortal Instruments series and Infernal Devices trilogy

“Twisted, pulse-pounding, shocking, and very, very scary. With The Waking Dark, Robin Wasserman conjures vintage Stephen King as she peers into the dark heart of a nightmare America, where violence and evil lurk behind the golden glow of small-town life, and new terrors arrive by the hour. A superb horror story that is by turns visceral and lyrical, heartrending and heart-stopping.” —Libba Bray, bestselling author of the Gemma Doyle trilogy and the Diviners series
“This book has the combination of mystery and fright that I love. So many twists and shocks, I nearly jumped out of my chair several times! Trust me—this is a true chiller. Not to be missed!” —R. L. Stine
“A thriller dark and beautiful and—yes—achingly romantic at every unexpected twist and turn. Astounding.” —Lauren Myracle, New York Times bestselling author of The Infinite Moment of Us and Bliss
“Wild, nihilistic madness that will get true horror fans raising their pitchforks and torches in frenzied glee. Wasserman writes as if hooked up to IVs of Stephen King and John Carpenter's spiked blood.” —Daniel Kraus, author of Rotters and Scowler

"Great dialogue and intriguing subplots add to the action-packed story . . . the suspense doesn’t let up until the final pages." —School Library Journal, Starred Review

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Wasserman (The Book of Blood and Shadow) delivers an exceptional horror novel that will lead to inevitable (and deserved) Stephen King comparisons. In the isolated Kansas town of Oleander, five people suddenly go on murder sprees, with four of them committing suicide. A year later, five survivors are united when a storm (and later, soldiers) isolate the town: loner Daniel, closeted jock West, newly evangelical Ellie, outcast Jule, and Cassie—the one remaining murderer, who has no recollection of what she did or why. As the days pass, the five grow increasingly aware that everyone else in Oleander is starting to act strange. The characters’ own conflicts—Jule’s family deals meth, West’s parents are homophobic, etc.—help fuel the tension until the insanity really takes over. While the plot isn’t new (see either version of The Crazies), Wasserman juggles a huge cast, intense action, and some truly horrific moments with style and skill. The novel works just as well as mainstream horror as YA, and the ending is both effective and brutal. Ages 14–up. Agent: Barry Goldblatt, Barry Goldblatt Literary. (Sept.)
VOYA - Mary Arnold
Those who survived The Killing Day, a day when twelve died at the hands of their friends and neighbors, have struggled to return Oleander, Kansas, back to something like normal. They had succeeded once before, after the Christmas Day Fire in 1899, and now with the old factory reopened to new use, the town would rise again. But the earth has a long memory, and the wide open skies drop a dark funnel, explosions rock the landscape, and Oleander's citizens face a new, yet ancient, darkness in the land—and in their hearts. Five teens—perennial outsider Jule, golden jock West, caretaker Daniel, symbol and sacrifice Ellie, and scapegoat sole-surviving killer Cass —in a sleepy Midwest town quarantined behind barbed wire and armed guards, with little in common but their secrets and fears, must take charge of their own destinies as Oleander descends into violence borne of mass hysteria, religious zealotry, venality, and monumental evil. With more than a nod in tribute to Stephen King and Shirley Jackson, Wasserman builds a constant undercurrent of menace and foreboding that keeps the pages turning. It is not surprising that the jocks and bullies eagerly take on the role of town "Watchdogs," nor that there is a sinister force behind the destroyed factory and town quarantine, nor that Cassandra functions as a kind of doomed prophetess, and the figures and institutions that should protect are part of what falls apart. Readers will revel in the relentless pacing and ominous tone of this scary and disturbing ride. Reviewer: Mary Arnold
Kirkus Reviews
All the kids want out of Oleander, Kan.; few will make it alive. The small, isolated town has horrors in its past. The citizens begin a slow return to the surface on "the day of the killing," when five people with little in common go on a killing spree, and then four of them kill themselves. Teenager Cass, the only surviving murderer, is quickly institutionalized. Just as the town creeps back toward normalcy, an EF5 tornado whips through and destroys a quarter of the buildings and a nearby secret research facility. The U.S. government places the town under quarantine, with complete autonomy within it, and the citizens all begin to act out their worst impulses. As the adults slip into insanity and grab for power (when not killing each other), a small band of teens--gay footballer West, daughter of meth dealers Jule and struggling street-preacher's kid Daniel--fights to survive. When Cass returns to reveal the truth of their situation, they fight to escape. Wasserman's horror/science-fiction blend is ultraviolent in places, ludicrous in others and snooze-inducing in still others. It's a mess of an attempt at Stephen King–style small-town horror, undermined by an unrealistic and basically uninteresting portrayal of the classic breakdown of civilization amid a too-large cast. Skippable in the extreme. (Horror. 17 & up)
From the Publisher
Starred Review, Publishers Weekly, July 29, 2013:
"Wasserman (The Book of Blood and Shadow) delivers an exceptional horror novel that will lead to inevitable (and deserved) Stephen King comparisons… The novel works just as well as mainstream horror as YA, and the ending is both effective and brutal.”

Starred Review, Booklist, August 1, 2013:
"The Waking Dark is a horror story worthy of Stephen King... It’s a violent, edgy, well-written, and foreboding novel, so realistic that readers can only hope it’s simply fiction."

Starred Review, School Library Journal, July 2013:
"Great dialogue and intriguing subplots add to the action-packed story, which will have readers frantically flipping pages. Wasserman sustains a truly spooky mood throughout, and the suspense doesn’t let up until the final pages."

Starred Review, The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, October 2013:
"Masterful pacing and brilliant scene-setting work to make sure readers can’t leave Oleander until the final page."

From the Hardcover edition.

School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—This contemporary thriller opens on an ordinary Tuesday afternoon in a small town in Kansas, when five people with no connection to one another inexplicably commit murders and then kill, or attempt to kill, themselves. This becomes known as "the killing day," and no one has an explanation for it. The dark story is told from the perspectives of five teenagers, each of whom suffers in a different way due to the crimes, but it's nearly a year before their linked lives truly converge. After a devastating tornado, the entire town is quarantined and the adults are descending into violent madness. The five teens seem to be the only ones who realize something terrible is happening; they struggle both to stay alive and unravel what's really going on and who is responsible. While the number of protagonists can be confusing at times, their alternating stories are all compelling. Great dialogue and intriguing subplots add to the action-packed story, which will have readers frantically flipping pages. Wasserman sustains a truly spooky mood throughout, and the suspense doesn't let up until the final pages.—Sunnie Lovelace, Wallingford Public Library, CT

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
6.04(w) x 8.38(h) x 1.40(d)
870L (what's this?)
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

ROBIN WASSERMAN is the critically-acclaimed author of the Seven Deadly Sins series, Hacking Harvard, the Skinned trilogy, and The Book of Blood and Shadow. She lives in Brooklyn.

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The Waking Dark 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Kendra_Helene More than 1 year ago
There is a proper way to prepare for reading The Waking Dark. You should wait until it’s half-past eleven and the sky is as dark as you’ve ever seen it. The rain should be pummeling against your windows, threatening to shatter the glass. The faint sound of thunder should be whispering in the distance. All but one light, just enough for you to read, should be turned off. Your furniture should be casting odd shadows onto the walls, ones that look like they may be moving. A cup of tea should be by your side. And finally, you should be curled into a ball on the comfiest chair in your house. You should be relaxed, expecting an enjoyable, calming story. In no way should you be afraid. Not yet.   It’s hard for me to describe my emotions while reading The Waking Dark without revealing anything crucial to the plot. And trust me, everything in this book is crucial to the plot. It is so well thought out and put together; it left me breathless. The cyclical pattern of human nature is so enthralling that you don’t even mind the violence.  I can’t say the characters were good people. I can’t say that I’d want to be their friend or that I have a literary crush on any of them. But, damn, they may have been some of the best characters that I have ever gotten to read. It’s hard to separate the heroes from the villains, but that is an intentional aspect. It’s the same in life. Telling the good people from the bad people has never been as easy as comic books would like to pretend.  The best part of this book though is the writing. All of the details that Wasserman goes into mesh brilliantly together, forming scenes of horror that could rival any movie you’d watch on Halloween. But just as great as all the details were the ones left unsaid. Those, truthfully, were the most painful, since it was always clear what had happened in the missing words. Wasserman has a talent for writing suspense that will be hard for anyone else to rival.  Now, this book is on shelves TODAY. If you’re not reading it, you’re missing out. 
chapterxchapter More than 1 year ago
When I found out I would get to read The Waking Dark by author Robin Wasserman I was excited. And I mean really excited. I only read the description of the novel and that was all it took for me to be ready to kill somebody if it meant getting to experience this book. S I admit, I did not expect The Waking Dark to be remotely how it was. I expected a novel that would be a bit crazy. I didn’t expect an actual asylum, you know? Regardless of what I expected and wanted, The Waking Dark was still fantastic, terrifying and unforgettable. (I am just going to say now that The Waking Dark is definitely not a novel for people who have a hard time dealing with violence, anarchy and a lot of graphic murders). After a night that leaves twelve people dead—all the killers except one left dead from their own hand—the small town Oleander, Kansas is changed forever. In the aftermath of ‘the Killing Day’ a tornado strikes Oleander and takes things from bad to worse. Suddenly there are armed soldiers surrounding the town, quarantining it and keeping Oleander completely blocked off from the rest of the nsane. Completely mental. I’ll never be able to emphasize just how insane this novel gets. It starts with the killing day and everybody pretty much being murdered. I honestly didn’t expect the killings to be described as graphically as they did, but it didn’t take too long to figure out that in this novel everything was darker and more graphic than I originally assumed. It was disturbing, psychotic and at the end of the day it really enhanced the experience by a lot. Readers with a weak stomach (I’m talking, in the first chapter a baby is smothered and killed) may not enjoy The Waking Dark to the fullest… it does have some extremely dark content. The Waking Dark has an amazing writing style. Wasserman drags readers into the story and doesn’t let go of their attention. Just when things can’t seem like they can get any more intense bam it gets more intense. What I didn’t expect from The Waking Dark was the series of plot twists and unexpected tones the novel would take. I think that readers who are looking for a read that will keep them on their toes are definitely going to have to check out the Waking Dark because it will keep you on the edge of your seat. The characters introduced in The Waking Dark are all very unique and unforgettable. None of them are identical and out of them all there must be one out of the main characters introduced that readers will be able to relate to and call their favorite character. I know that out of them all my favorite character would have to be Jule. She’s badass, takes initiative and has to go through some terrible situations in the novel that in the end make her come out of the novel way differently than she did when she came in. I would recommend The Waking Dark to readers who are looking for a terrifying read, fans of thrillers and horror will definitely need to check out this novel. Anybody who wants to just be thrown into a totally new type of fright-inducing read need to read The Waking Dark.
StephWard More than 1 year ago
4.5 Stars 'The Waking Dark' is an fantastically intense young adult mystery/thriller novel that tells the story of the small town of Oleander, Kansas. Everything is predictable, boring - normal - in Oleander. That is, until what they refer to as The Killing Day. The day when 12 people were murdered in a matter of hours. Not long after The Killing Day, a strong storm hits the town and leaves it broken and upside down. Soon the roads leading out of town are blocked off by soldiers with guns, barbed wire fences and they have no access to the outside world at all. Stranger yet are the people of Oleander. The once quiet and peaceful citizens are turning on one another and committing crimes nobody thought possible in their small town. Just what is happening to Oleander and the people inside it? Why won't the soldiers answer their questions or let them leave? A group of teens - Daniel, West, Jule, Cass, and Ellie - band together to try to find out the truth of what's happening and to find a way out. Although they have known each other since they were little, it is soon evident that everyone has secrets. Will they be able to stop whatever is happening in Oleander before it's too late? Will they find a way out to get help? Or will they suffer the same fate as everyone else and lose themselves to the darkness enveloping the town? I am a huge fan of mysteries and thriller/suspense novels, so I was immediately intrigued when I read the description of this book. It gave a great idea of what it would be about without revealing too much. I have to admit that I was definitely not disappointed and the book far exceeded any expectations I may have had. The plot was really unique and captivating - there's so many strange things happening to different characters at the same time. It definitely kept me on my toes, but didn't confuse or overwhelm me. The writing was fantastic with an effortless flow and a really quick pace that had me eagerly reading as fast as I could to try to find out what was happening to the people an the town and how it would all end. I tried to come up with theories and ideas about what could be going on, but then the author would slip in a huge twist or turn and I would be back at the beginning. The characters were all very well written, especially the group of teens that band together. We get to see each of their personalities, their strengths and weaknesses, and their secrets - which only made them more realistic in my eyes. There are several genres blended together in the book - action, horror, adventure, suspense, mystery, romance. It will definitely appeal to fans of all types of fiction. This book had me instantly hooked from the first paragraph and refused to let go until well after I had finished reading. Very highly recommended for fans of YA mysteries and thriller/suspense novels. You don't want to miss out on this one! Disclosure: I received a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
Kevin_Young More than 1 year ago
This is a coming of age story depicting the diversity of today's teenagers.  It's sort of like the Breakfast Club meets the Walking Dead. It's an apocalyptic thrill ride filled with shocking plot twists that will leave you in awe.   Overall it's a very well-written story with intriguing characters that the reader will grow attached too while there are others that  you'll feel apathetic about.   An interesting narrative style by telling it from the points of views from 5 different protagonist who each have their own agendas. What would have made this novel better would to further develop the characters. I would have loved to see more character interactions between all of the protagonists as an ensemble.  
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
gramabam More than 1 year ago
The story is somewhat slow to develope and hops from one charater to the next. However, it is an interesting plot and may give the reader a few things to think about.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It's okay.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago