It's Month 2 of YA Book Club Winter Games, and I bet you thought you were going to see a picture of the book we read up at the top, huh? Well you guessed wrong, and you'll soon see why we chose a picture of Sonic slushies instead. Besides just being delicious, Sonic is an integral part of our January novel There's Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins. Let's get into it, shall we?
Emily: So what happens when you mix Scream with YA Romance with a dash of Sonic slushies? You get this book, There's Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins, a book about high school and cliques and getting the hell out of your crappy small town, and of course, murder. Lots and lots of murder. This novel was advertised as a horror novel for teens, which was a shocker for many YA aficionados because Stephanie Perkins usually writes romance novels, such as Anna and the French Kiss, so this was supposed to be a big departure for her. What did you think of Perkins's first foray into horror fiction?
. Mary: I could really really see she writes romances typically.
Emily: Yes, same.
Mary: This didn’t really thrill me or shock me to be honest, and had a huge romance bent, which...I didn’t think was great.
Emily: So what should we cover first? The romance or the lack of shock/thrills?
Mary: Hmmm I say the romance.
Emily: Okay, let's talk about the romance.
Mary: So basically Makani, the protagonist, spends the entire novel entangled—literally and metaphorically—with Ollie, the resident creepy art boy.
Emily: Who dyed his hair pink because he's artsy and sad.
Mary: I think we’re supposed to believe Ollie did it. Like, did the murders.
Emily: Which would be... what happened in Scream. The boyfriend did it. I think Scream is the only horror movie this author has ever seen, but we can get to that.
Mary: But of course, Ollie didn’t do it. He is essentially perfect and sad.
Emily: Ollie is horribly dull.
Mary: Ollie is just a stereotypical sad boy. And I’m not here for it.
Emily: Well, I don't find sad boys romantic because I'm not 13.
Mary: Yeah, same.
Emily: I think when I was 13, I would have been like dayum. In reality, it's really annoying being around someone who's sad all the time. Which sounds harsh because I know his parents died.
Mary: Well, there’s different sorts of sad.
Mary: Ollie doesn't seem so much sad as he is plagued by tragedy.
Emily: He's more sad in that he dyed his hair and is a loner, more than because his parents died. He's superficially sad.
Mary: Yes, definitely. He’s the loner boy stereotype. Whiiiiich again, I’d be into if I was 13.
Emily: Right, and that is what's intolerable.
Mary: Yes, for sure.
Emily: It was weird too because both Makani and Ollie were concealing things from each other for no reason... other than to build suspense for the reader.
Mary: But not great things. Not super important things. I felt so disappointed when Makani revealed her -drama-
Emily: Which was super frustrating with Makani especially because she has this TRAGEDY in her past that made her leave Hawaii, and yeah when we find out what it is, it's like... oh.
Mary: Yes! And the whole novel builds up to it.
Emily: So what is it, Mary?
Mary: She...what? Cut a girls hair? I mean there’s more than that.
Emily: Not much more than that.
Mary: She was forced into a terrible hazing ritual, humiliated, and because she’s so humiliated she becomes fiercely competitive with her best friend.
Emily: Because her friend didn't warn her.
Mary: Yes, but her mom also didn’t warn her. The mom part is the worst.
Emily: Yeah her mom sounds so shitty.
Mary: During the hazing they compete against each other, working each other up and getting more and more drunk. So she cuts off her friend’s ponytail, causing the girl to run into the ocean and almost drown because she’s drunk. But honestly, everyone was fine? It was terrible and hurtful and damaging, but I thought it was going to be SO much worse.
Emily: It's a weird reaction to getting your hair cut off. To run into the water.
Mary: It is, but I guess they were a bunch of drunk teens.
Emily: But also like... what's the big deal? I've cut my friend's hair when I was drunk before. Haven't we all? Drunken hair salon?
Mary: I haven’t, but I could see it happening.
Emily: Look, it happens. Just look up drunk haircut on YouTube and see what happens.
Mary: Oh for sure. It just doesn’t seem like enough of a thing to move from Hawaii. I’d have been more interested to see how things blew up with her mom.
Emily: Yeah, I wanted to know more about why her parents were so shitty! Oh, can we also talk about how talk about naked men and men being naked takes up a lot of book space? I felt like there were a lot of dangling balls in this book.
Mary: Yeaaaah that was weird honestly. I couldn’t figure out why.
Emily: It wasn't sexy.
Mary: No, not at all.
Emily: In both cases, it was about humiliation, which I guess some people might think is sexy?
Mary: Honestly, I felt like I didn’t know much about anyone in this novel. Not the victims, not the main characters. No one.
Emily: Especially not the killer.
Mary: Yeah, who even was he?!
Emily: When they said who it was, I was like, "WHO?"
Mary: Even though they kept saying his name and talking about him, I kept thinking, who?!
Emily: I think this author needs to read more horror, thriller, mystery novels if she wants to continue to write in this genre, because really it just came off like she didn't know how these stories work.
Mary: Definitely. It’s a romance novel with some incidental murder.
Emily: The reveal of the killer happened very early, and it didn't mean anything because the character didn't mean anything to us as a reader.
Mary: It was just some guy.
Emily: And the more we found out about the murders, the person who did it wasn't complicated in any way. There were no twists to speak of.
Mary: He, like Ollie, was a sad loner boy.
Emily: The dude just didn't want anyone to leave the town.
Mary: But even then, that seems like a stretch. It was like the author thought in the very last pages, oh I should give him a motivation.
Emily: Yeah it wasn't hinted at at all earlier.
Mary: And the victims only got a couple of pages of description. I didn’t know them either. Even Makani’s friend Alex, who dies graphically, felt like a paper person.
Emily: They were stereotypes. Representatives of different cliques. I will say, however, the one moment that got me was when Katie was getting murdered and she was like, "I'm not screaming because I don't want to wake up my brother and sister." And I was like whoa that's intense, Katie.
Mary: OH MAN. That was great. Probably the greatest moment of the novel. It was genuinely chilling.
Emily: Yeah so like, more of that please. That made her human and different and made me feel for what was happening.
Mary: I wish there had been more of that.
Emily: Yeah for real. I also was really confused about why it took them so long to catch this dude.
Mary: The town was portrayed as so small, and yet no one could find him?
Emily: Yes, exactly.
Mary: There were no thrills and chills. The romance between Ollie and Makani was the focal point of the novel, yet even that was underdeveloped. I’m not sure what they liked about each other except they made out a lot. Which like, yeah, that’s fun, but you also should probably like the person.
Emily: The sex lasted longer than 30 seconds.
Mary: Yes, but that is just such a low bar.
Emily: I was just shocked at how concerned Makani was about whether or not this dude was her boyfriend, when people were DYING!
Mary: I know! An actual serial killer was on the loose and all she could think was OMG DOES HE LIKE ME?!
Mary: Meanwhile, death! I saw a lot of similarities to Riverdale, my old favorite. Amidst death and murder, relationship drama outweighed everything else. Not only relationships between teens, but with adults as well.
Emily: The murder was just to entice you into hearing about all of these relationships.
Mary: BUT, Riverdale knows it’s ridiculous.
Emily: And every now and then, it's like OH BUT THERE IS STILL MURDER. DON'T FORGET!
Mary: One thing I thought was interesting was the inclusion of a transgender character. A very casual inclusion. It was nice to see a transgender character accepted, unquestioned, and seemingly supported. Although again, he doesn’t get any development.
Emily: Yeah and because he doesn't get any development, it feels a bit like tokenism.
Emily: Speaking of which, how did you feel about the way Perkins deals with Makani's race?
Mary: Ooooh huh. I mean, did she deal with it? She mentioned hair care once.
Emily: Oh there were a lot of comments about how she thought she was being targeted because she was the black girl.
Mary: Right right. It seemed secondary to the romance, and didn’t get enough development. I don’t think anyone seemed to care about her race and she was the one most concerned with it, which, I don’t buy! You’re telling me a tiny town full of white folks aren’t going to feel any sort of way about a black girl who moves in mysteriously?
Emily: So true, especially because she's also very Hawaiian looking. I guess she does say that people ask her WHAT she is a lot, and it makes her uncomfortable.
Mary: Yes, which could have been really fun to explore. Something could have been said about it. It could have elevated the book a little bit. Gotta say, I gave this a 1/5. But I would have given it lower had Goodreads allowed me.
Emily: I actually gave it a 3/5 because I didn't hate reading it. And I read another thriller this same weekend that was eyeroll-inducingly bad and super predictible and had no redeeming qualities at all So in contrast, this one was pretty fun and inoffensive.
Mary: I’m currently also reading a really lofty novel, soooo the comparison worked the opposite way for me.
Emily: WELL LA DE DA!
Mary: I mean, it would have been more fun to me if there was more murder and intrigue. I just hate YA romance for the most part.
Emily: Because YA romance is wish fulfillment usually, rather than being an interesting story.
Mary: Right—and also just...really unrealistic. Teenagers are dumb and awkward and weird.
Emily: And apparently teenagers worry about their sex life even when people are getting murdered all around them. Oh wait. That's probably accurate come to think of it.
Mary: That part might be true. Do you want to talk about Sonic?
Emily: Oh yes! WTF WAS THE DEAL WITH SONIC??
Mary: I DON'T KNOW! These youths kept talking about going to Sonic, like it was a cool hangout spot.
Emily: And then the manager from Sonic SAVED OLLIE'S LIFE.
Mary: YES, and he said, “that’s why I hate Sonic.”
Emily: Ugh such a sad boy line.
Mary: It is.
Emily: Though I guess I get it. When I was in high school I also hated whatever all the preppy kids were into, because they were dumb.
Mary: Oh me too.
Emily: And I defined myself by not being them.
Mary: But Sonic is just a fast food place! Sonic didn’t ask for this.
Emily: Teenagers are dumb like that though. Everything is about identity. EVEN SONIC!
Mary: Has Ollie never known the joy of a happy hour soda?
Emily: Apparently not! SONIC DIDN'T ASK FOR ANY OF THIS!
Mary: LEAVE SONIC ALONE!
Emily: I think the book needed one final chapter where Grandma Young takes the kids to Sonic to give them a speech about safe sex.
Mary: OH YES!
Emily: And Ollie reconciles with the slushies, and realizes Sonic saved his life and he should show some damn respect.
Mary: That would be so beautiful. It’s canon in my head now.
Emily: Yes. Canon.
Mary: The end.
Emily: Yes. 5 stars to that ending.
Mary: I would definitely up my rating for that ending.
And that, friends, is our take on There's Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins. Let us know what you thought in the comments, and be sure to come back at the end of February when we'll be discussing Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert. It's been fun, as always!
- Mary & Emily
About the Blog
The authors of this blog are four women with opinions about pop culture. That's all you really need to know.