There's Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins
Digital Audiobook narrated by Bahni Turpin
Published by Dutton Books for Young Readers on September 26, 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Horror, Mystery, Thriller, Young Adult
Length: 289 pages or 9 hours, 26 minutes
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Makani Young thought she'd left her dark past behind her in Hawaii, settling in with her grandmother in landlocked Nebraska. She's found new friends and has even started to fall for mysterious outsider Ollie Larsson. But her past isn't far behind.
Then, one by one, the students of Osborne Hugh 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.
I couldn’t not pick this one up. How many YA thrillers are there? With Stephanie Perkins success with Anna and the French Kiss, I was curious to see what she had to offer in different genres. I think that overall, There’s Someone Inside Your House is just okay, but it’s appropriate for its intended audience.
Mikani Young has a past, one that has been expunged from her record and she doesn’t want her new friends in Nebraska learning about. She’s startling to settle in here – she has two friends, a routine, and that fling she had over the summer that may turn into something. But no sooner does school start back up again that the first victim is found murdered in her bed. There’s a serial killer targeting teens in her town… and Makani worries she might be next.
Now, Stephanie Perkins is mainly a contemporary writer. As I was reading this, I couldn’t help but feel it was first a contemporary romance and secondly a horror novel. The horror sections are very good – don’t get me wrong. There is one scene where the top of a victim’s head is sliced off and his brain scrambled and it is written disturbingly well. If Stephanie Perkins wanted to write a full-out creepy horror novel, I have no doubt she would do it very well. But There’s Someone Inside Your House has a feeling of holding back on a lot of elements. I’m not sure if this was an intentional choice on her part – maybe not wanting to drive off her regular fans with something too grisly – or just the way she always wanted the story to turn out. But there are long stretches of Mikani and Ollie working on their relationship and I was inpatient to get back to the story at hand.
Actually, as far as the love story goes, There’s Someone Inside Your House isn’t shy about things. It’s clear from early on that this is a physical relationship, which for their age is perfectly normal, but for whatever reason, this isn’t something we see a lot in YA. There’s no fluttering eyelashes and butterflies here – it’s pure attraction and the weavings of a social integration where bedroom doors can’t be closed and one has to meet the grandmother, etc. It was sort of refreshing to see a little bit more of a mature relationship in YA, because in reality, most relationships aren’t cutesy.
The characters are… fine? None of them really clicked for me. She liked to switch to the POV of someone who was about to be attacked, and I felt like I didn’t have enough time to have a relationship with the character before it was all over. It was like the intro scene of NCIS where you meet the victim for five minutes and then they mysteriously die… over and over again. The only consistent is Mikani, and even then, I just didn’t connect with her. Which is okay! Other people likely will. I give Stephanie Perkins points for her diversity in this book – for a small town in Nebraska, she’s doing pretty good. Mikani is black and one of her best friends, Darby, is trans. That’s more than is easily recognizable in a lot of American-set YA books, so it was good to see.
There were a few other little things that bothered me. For one, you learn who the killer is at almost exactly halfway through the book. I kept waiting for the twist, but it never came. The last half of the book was all about this big secret of Makani’s and about these kids being smarter than the cops and chasing the killer. Then, the ending was very abrupt. For a book that takes its time getting to the arrest, it didn’t allow time for closure after the events at the end.
I did this one in audiobook form, so as far as the narrator goes, eh. Bahni Turpin also narrated Children of Blood and Bone and she was PURE BRILLIANCE there, but I wasn’t really feeling her for this one. It may have been the story itself, but I was so excited to listen to another one of her books, only to feel like it fell flat.
Still, when all is said and done, you rarely see a YA horror novel that is as well written as this one (I read a YA serial killer story last year and it was just awful). I don’t think There’s Someone Inside Your House should be discounted – there’s a decent balance of murder and puppy dog eyes (non-literal…because this is horror I thought I should be clear). People looking for a deep, goosebump-worthy horror novel won’t find it here, but if you’d like a contemporary YA romance with a side of serial killers, this one is pretty good.