CRAZY HOUSE - by James Patterson

CRAZY HOUSE - James Patterson
Published: 2017 - Hachette Book Group.
Genres: YA / dystopia / thriller
Pages: 368.
Format: Paperback.
Triggers/Content Advisory: Graphic violence, sexual innuendo, mentions of rape and suicide.
Source: Thank you to Penguin Random House SA for sending me this book in exchange for a honest review.
Seventeen-year-old Becca Greenfield was snatched from her small hometown. She was thrown into a maximum-security prison and put on Death Row with other kids her age. Until her execution, Becca's told to fit in and shut her mouth... but Becca's never been very good at either. Her sister Cassie was always the perfect twin. Becca's only hope is that her twin sister will find her. That perfect little priss Cassie will stop following the rules and start breaking them, before it's too late. Because her jailers made a mistake that could get them both killed: They took the wrong twin.

I had never read a James Patterson book until this one. I knew about him, obviously, and knew that he was a huge name in the thriller genre, but I'd never read his books.
Until this one. And believe me, I was ecstatic to dive into it and love it; I was really, really excited.
But it fell flat for me in every single way.

The writing is clumsy, melodramatic, and juvenile. The sentences are stilted, the dialogue unrealistic and frequently out of character, and there is absolutely no set-up of anything. The world building is extremely limited, and for the entirety of the first quarter of the story I was completely confused. In fact, I didn't even realise it was dystopia until the story got to a certain point. Everything's vague and weak and incredibly, incredibly unrealistic. Not for one second could I suspend disbelief.
But there are some nice twists towards the end and the pacing is always fast. Yet the story ends unrealistically. The twists are good twists, but they're pathetically executed. The story feels even more unrealistic and superficial at the end and I didn't buy it.

There's no background or strong backstory for anything. Nothing is set-up! Incidents and information are thrown in randomly like the author's just thought of them in the moment. For example, when Cassie tells the reader that a certain teacher raped her sister, the information comes in the form of an outburst to said teacher and has no realism at all. There's been no set-up to that, and there's no proper consequences in that scene. The information is shocking - horrifying - but it's handled terribly. And the worst thing is, Cassie doesn't even act realistically; she shouts out the accusation like she's having a spat with a friend.
Here's the scene:
I actually felt the blood draining from my face. "Don't you talk about my ma," I said in a low, shaking voice. Something inside me came undone and I went on, not sounding like myself at all. "You're not the only one who can make threats. Remember when you pushed me into the supply closest? Remember shoving your tongue down my throat?" Mr. Harrison got red, his eyes narrowing. "I'm sure you do, because I bit the hell out of it," I went on. "But Becca wasn't so lucky, was she? No, you actually got her alone that time. And you forced yourself on her! You're just a rapist! Not any kind of teacher."  "You listen here," Mr. Harrison began, striding towards me angrily, "The girl had it coming to her! Just like you!"   

It goes without saying that Mr. Harrison is a despicable character, but isn't that scene so poorly written? Not to mention it's extremely insensitive and offensive - the language is anything but serious, despite the gravity of the information. The subject of rape seems to be there simply for shock value, especially since Mr. Harrison is never mentioned again. 

Which brings me to:The author's handling of certain dark topics.
Rape and a pregnancy that ends in a miscarriage are mentioned, but they aren't written sensitively or intelligently. They're skimped over, with the characters barely acknowledging them, and it all comes across childish, immature, and "oh well, it happened. Let's move on." Personally, I think that if you're going to mention topics like that it's your responsibility to handle them well and make sure they get the closure, attention, and sensitivity they deserve. As it is, I'm shocked, furious, heartbroken, at the way Patterson addresses the incident of rape and the miscarriage of a girl's child. Even if the story world or characters don't give the topics proper handling, that in itself needs to be addressed in the story. But in this book it never is.

"There were no charges. There was no trial. There will be no escape." 

The characters are stereotypical. Becca and Cassie do have a compelling relationship and they do change throughout the story, but they aren't great characters. I like how active they are and that they actually do move the story forward, but they're still annoying, boring characters. And I struggled to get into their heads and sympathise with them.

Everyone else is bland and underdeveloped. People pop up without introduction or impression and suddenly we're supposed to feel for them. And I tell you truthfully, I did not feel for a single character in the book. I just couldn't. Nathaniel and Tim are boring love interests with little purpose in the story aside from being love interests, and Miss. Strepp - the woman who had potential for an interesting character - is inconsistent, and gradually falls into a stereotypical, predictable role.

Crazy House is poorly written, unrealistic, insensitive to the tough subjects it brings up, and packed with bland, stereotypical characters. It has no set-up, and nothing, nothing is properly developed - if developed at all.


  1. I read the earl Patterson books in the Alex Cross series but I stopped reading somewhere around book 8 and never went back to it as reviews say the books end up with pretty much the same plot. I really hated the dreadful MC in Zoo and DNFed it. I don't think I'll be picking this one up!

    1. Ah sorry to hear that :(
      Yeah good idea, I think!

  2. Ugh! What a train wreck of a novel. I've read a few by Patterson in the past but ever since he started with the collabs it seems like he just cranks out one after another. I think at this point he'll slap his name on almost anything and say it was co-written by him.

    1. SO TRUE :(
      Yeah I've heard that too. So annoying.
      Thanks for the comment, Tanya :)

  3. I've never actually read anything by James Patterson, they never seemed to appeal to me. But ugh, unrealistic dialogue is one of my BIGGEST pet peeves in books. Why can't book characters talk like real people?

    1. I know right! Unrealistic dialogue just SUCKS :(