The world is ending. Natural disasters have reduced major cities to rubble. Millions of people are dying. And even worse, a large percentage of the people (referred to as Baggers) who are left have turned into brutal killers who patrol the streets attacking other survivors.
Dark Inside centers on four main characters: Aries, a girl who survives a devastating accident with the help of a mysterious stranger; Michael, who witnesses extreme violence and sets out to help a new friend find his family; Clementine, who escapes from a town gone insane; and Mason, who has lost everyone he loves and wrestles with a darkness welling up inside him.
Based on the premise alone, I totally expected to like Dark Inside. As it turns out, I more than liked it. It exceeded any expectations that I had for it and totally blew me away. I was gasping out loud frequently and several times I actually yelled out “NOOOOOO!” At one point I had to stop reading and take my contacts out because I was literally forgetting to blink. I kept peeking ahead at the bottom of the next page because I couldn’t wait to see what was going to happen, and that is totally unlike me. I am usually ardently anti-spoiler, but I just couldn’t read fast enough. That’s a sure sign that I am loving a book.
I must say, this book scared me at times. While lots of books make me feel tense, it’s extremely rare for a book to scare me – the last one I can remember is It by Stephen King. The Baggers were terrifying, much more so than the zombies, vampires, etc. While there is definitely a paranormal aspect to Dark Inside, the Baggers are the most frightening thing imaginable to me because they represent man’s capacity for cruelty and violence toward his fellow man. It reminded me a bit of 28 Days Later in some ways, mostly in the brutality of the new world. The gore level wasn’t over the top, but it might be enough to bother the squeamish.
I love books that tell the same story or discuss the same event from multiple perspectives, so I really enjoyed the way this was written. Without exception, the stories of the four main characters were scary and engrossing. Clementine was my favorite because she reminded me a little of myself at 17, but all of the characters are endearing in their own way. Certainly, none of them are boring and they each have their own distinct personalities. I found myself really concerned for each of them and rooting for them to find their way to safety.
I can tell that this is a book that I’ll still be thinking about next week, next month, maybe even months from now. It’s definitely going to be a book that I recommend to others who want to read a good, solid, engrossing YA book. And while lately I’ve been sighing a bit when I realize that a book is going to be part of a series because it seems like there are soooo many series and so few stand alone YA books these days, I literally did a little dance in my seat when I saw that there will be a sequel next summer. Huzzah!
I borrowed this book from the library, but it’s one that I’m definitely going to buy a copy of and re-read in the future. Highly recommended.