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Dark Inside Hardcover – November 1, 2011
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Amazon Exclusive: A Q&A with Jeyn Roberts
Q: Much of today’s dystopian literature takes place long after civilization has ended, but in Dark Inside, your characters deal with the event as it happens—and its immediate aftermath. What drew you to writing about this specific time versus further down the road?
Roberts: I’ve always found how events begin to be just as exciting as what comes afterwards. I’ve always been a fan of end-of-the-world movies and novels—but the events that lead up to the destruction are often more terrifying than what comes afterwards. I really wanted to do something that focuses on both aspects.
Q: What was it like writing from multiple POVs, and is there one character in particular that you relate to?
Roberts: I really enjoy writing from multiple POVs. When I started this story, it seemed too large to focus on just one character. I wanted to spread it out and show different POVs from different locations. There are a lot of writers I enjoy who have done this.
I can honestly say that I was able to relate to every single character in one way or another. If I compared myself to one, it would probably be Aries. I’d like to believe I’d be the type of person who becomes a reluctant leader and worries about everyone else instead of myself.
Q: The idea of some people turning “evil” while others are spared is an interesting one! How did you come up with it?
Roberts: When I was a teenager I used to have dreams about being in a world that had been taken over by evil. Often in my dreams we were hiding somewhere and just trying to survive. When I finally decided to write about it, the whole idea just came into my head. I like the idea of not knowing who you can trust. I find that more terrifying than the typical zombie story where you can spot the monster a mile away.
Q: All of the characters are obviously very determined—to survive, find others like them, etc—but when you were writing their stories did you ever find yourself thinking that each personified a specific personality trait?
Roberts: I love Aries’s reluctant leadership and Michael’s fear of constantly doing the wrong thing, Mason’s moodiness and fear of getting close to anyone and Clementine’s ability to kick Bagger butt. I’d like to believe there is a bit of myself in each of them, even if it’s not necessarily a good trait.
Q: It isn’t until the end of the book that the characters’ experiences fully intersect with one another, which begs the question: Is there a sequel planned and can you give us a hint about what’s next?
Roberts: Yes! The sequel will be coming out in the fall of 2012. It continues on a few months after the first book. The group is together and well hidden but they’re still dealing with problems. Now the Baggers are starting to rebuild society. They’re rounding up the remaining survivors and putting them in camps. They’re weeding out those who are not worthy of this new world.
There are also new characters and even some blossoming romance. And a few secrets will be revealed.
"Roberts...masterfully [keeps] suspense high as the teens search for food, clothing and hiding places while fighting off attacks. The simple details of survival, such as living without electricity and refrigeration, fascinate as much as the fight scenes. Overall, a spirit of optimism wins through the post-apocalyptic despair. The four separate threads share enough common elements that, although distinct, they merge into a coherent narrative. Well-balanced, realistic suspense."--Kirkus Reviews
"A fascinating blend between Matheson’s I Am Legend and Collins’s The Hunger Games, Dark Inside will engross readers from the first written words, leaving them captivated by strong, compelling characters as well as the savage, destructive world they have to survive. Told from split narrations, a sense of unity is established that furthers the plot considerably and brings urgency and life to the book. Well-written and brilliant, Dark Inside will not disappoint."--VOYA
“The suspense and frissons [are] offered up in abundance by this successful debut.”--Booklist
“Amidst the recent glut of doomsday scenarios, Roberts makes her story stand out by focusing both on the physical challenges of finding safety in a world gone mad as well as the psychological devastation experienced by each of the teens. The terror of seeing friends suddenly transformed into monsters is keenly felt, but it is the teens’ disillusionment with themselves, and particularly their ability or willingness (or lack thereof) to lead that is most affecting. … Readers looking to prepare themselves for the end of the world might do well to start here.”--BCCB
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World-Building: Intense only brushes the surface of this world. Everything starts out normally. People are going about their day, living life, enjoying breathing. Then...BAM! Earthquakes topping the Richter scale rip apart the globe. Multiple schools are bombed. Life everywhere is perishing at an alarmingly fast rate. The survivors of these atrocities are in shock, wounded, terrified. When they see their neighbors and friends, they plead for help, though help is the last thing they receive. Instead, more blood is shed as these once normal humans are now infected with the worst kind of disease: evil. Those immune to these twisted, macabre and horrific ideas of fun flee into the wide open, doing their best to remain one step ahead of their relentless, murderous pursuers. On the surface, the world-building appears simple. But deep down, the rules of the game have changed drastically. Right and wrong , as well as love and hate, are hard to discern.
Characters: The four young protagonists of this hellish existence all start out in different places. I really loved the four different perspectives. I'm a fan of multiple POVs, in general, as it allows us an intimate view of each character. Mason, Aries (but she's a Gemini), Clementine and Michael all start out in very different scenarios. Their experiences and personalities are quite different, but one thing that drives them toward each other is the sheer will to survive. They meet different people along the way, both evil and not, who have lasting effects. Mason, in my opinion, is teetering on the edge between good and evil. Michael is struggling with his perceived cowardice, Aries does not want to be the leader everyone expects her to be, and dear Clementine just wants to find her brother. And then there is Daniel, who appears to be something...more. I foresee interesting things from that guy.
And then we have Nothing. Nothing pops up occasionally during the book, with their chilling views of the world. We don't know much about Nothing, although one can deduce that Nothing is the nothingness that eats away at our souls. The evil and horror that infect our hearts. Using this concept as a character is brilliant. The addition of this voice into the multiple perspectives really brought out the creep-factor. It added to the tone and the overall spine-tingling, chill-inducing effect.
Lasting Impressions: Holy awesome to the sauce, people! Your intense emotions will keep you glued to the pages as your heart palpitations and sweaty hands add to the experience. I compare this book to a grisly automobile accident where you slow down as you pass, unable to remove your eyes from the horror. You will not be able to put this book down! It reminds me of a YA-version of The Stand by Stephen King, though we have not yet met Randall Flagg. Or have we...?
"There are different types of people in the world. There are people who accept what's in front of them unquestioningly. They live in the dark. In defeat. Ignoring what the future might bring or how they might help to make things happen. Then there are people like me. Optimists. They too live in the dark, in times like these, but dream of the light. I trust in the possibilities of betterness. I believe there is more to life than this. I have to. There's no other choice for me."
Firstly, and most importantly, Dark Inside is not a zombie novel. It's a wonderful mix of paranormal post-apocalyptic action - from the first chapter I was completely hooked. Focused on four main characters with a cast of unforgettable secondary characters, it begins with a bang and just doesn't slow down, all the way through.
All four characters are incredibly different, but all either likable or easy to sympathise with. Aries is a strong female character with brains, Mason is the guilt-ridden survivor, Clementine is the ditz who survives despite her naive ideas and action and Michael is thrust into a world that grows increasingly dark by the minute but manages to keep his head above water. And then there's Nothing - the character that knows all about the dark, but doesn't reveal more than small glimpses of him, or her, self.
Of the secondary characters I particularly loved Chickadee with her infectious energy and I loved to hate Colin. It takes a special character for me to hate them so much I'm hoping for their downfall!
The world-building grabbed me immediately - I HAVE to know more about the darkness, and just what causes all this crazy shiz to go down.
There's no faulting the pacing of Dark Inside. It is literally a rollercoaster that I didn't want to get off - so much that I went and bought the second book, Rage Within, when I was only halfway through Dark Inside, because I knew I wanted to have the next book ready.
If you love fast-paced books with excellent characterisation, where the secrets of the apocalypse are tantalisingly dangled in front of you, read Dark Inside. I can't believe I waited this long to read it!