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Book: “Hide” by Kiersten White
Publishing Info: Del Rey Books, May 2022
Where Did I Get This Book: I received an eARC from NetGalley.
Book Description: The challenge: spend a week hiding in an abandoned amusement park and don’t get caught.
The prize: enough money to change everything.
Even though everyone is desperate to win–to seize their dream futures or escape their haunting pasts–Mack feels sure that she can beat her competitors. All she has to do is hide, and she’s an expert at that.
It’s the reason she’s alive, and her family isn’t.
But as the people around her begin disappearing one by one, Mack realizes this competition is more sinister than even she imagined, and that together might be the only way to survive. Fourteen competitors. Seven days. Everywhere to hide, but nowhere to run.
Come out, come out, wherever you are.
Review: Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an eARC of this book!
I’ve mentioned it before, but it’s always kinda fun when Serena and I have an author that we both really enjoy. Partially because it’s interesting to see how we interact with an author’s work as two people with different literary focuses, but also because it usually means an author is good at genre jumping. And while Kiersten White has been more in Serena’s genres of fantasy and historical fiction, she has dabbled in horror now and again. And for her debut adult novel “Hide”, she returns to horror, enticing fans of the genre with an abandoned theme park, adults hoping to play hide and seek for a cash prize, and sinister ulterior motives from the people who are running the contest. I mean come on. I live for all of this, and I really like White as an author. So you know I was really excited to jump into the thick of it.
White already had me with the premise of a high stakes hide and seek game where money is the prize but undisclosed dangers threaten the players. Given that stories like “Hunger Games” and “Squid Game” have appealed to me for a very long time, it was a no brainer that this theme would work for me in this novel. Especially since I enjoy White’s writing and deconstructions of other tropes she’s taken on. And I’m not going to spoil to much here in terms of big details, but the way that White handles this story, with nods to Greek mythology as well as very real issues regarding the idle rich vs an ever more strained lower class, is a well balanced take on all the things she seeks to take on. I really liked the slow build up, as each day passes we see various players start to drop out of the game, with insights into the moments leading up to their ‘loss’ that start innocuous but then turn more and more sinister as the story goes on. I was in the dark for a lot of the plot, until I started to realize just what the broader picture was, influence wise, and once I did I became all the more invested in seeing how it all played out. And the way that she weaves this in with the social aspects of wealthy elites taking advantage of lower income groups for their own gains makes it all the more interesting. Sometimes the dialog of said wealthy elites was a LITTLE on the nose (which was a bit surprising as this is marketed as an adult novel; I tend to expect more of that in YA, but hey, this is White’s first foray into adult audiences and perhaps some old habits die hard), but it was few and far between and never took me too far out of the story.
I also mostly enjoyed the characters of this book. We mostly focus on Mack, who survived a massacre on her family when her father went full family annihilator, but wasn’t able to find her to kill her as well. Mack felt pretty realistic in her personality and her closed-offness, and I enjoyed how we slowly unpacked her trauma as well as how she perceives her role in some of the outcomes. I was a bit skeptical about how White was seemingly giving bits of perspective to EVERY contestant, as boy, that’s fourteen people in only a certain number of pages. But I thought that, for the most part, she gave at least a little bit of a glimpse into all of their psyches, and let us see why they would agree to this strange contest through their motivations and bits and pieces of their backstories. Some felt more contrived than others, but in general the most important players (be it cast wise or game wise) were given a lot to work with. I especially liked Ava, a disabled veteran with whom Mack becomes quite attached to, in spite of her fears of getting attached. Ava has a lot of great lines and some great characterization, and I was very invested in hers and Mack’s relationship as well as their wellbeing.
This foray into the adult reading demographic was pretty successful, which doesn’t surprise me. Honestly, given that White’s YA books have massive crossover appeal to adult audiences, I wouldn’t be shocked if the same can be said for “Hide” appealing to teens. Regardless, I thought it was fun, and it just emphasizes how much I really like White as a dark fantasy and horror author. I hope we get more of that from her in the near future!
Rating 8: A creative and suspenseful story with nods to Greek mythology and social maladies, “Hide” is a fun new horror novel from Kiersten White and a nice crossover to adult horror!
“Hide” is included on the Goodreads list “2022 Horror Novels Written by Women and Non-Binary Femmes”.