Review: There's Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins

9:10 PM

There's Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins | Rating: ★★★★☆

The very first thing (the most important thing, really) you should know about There's Someone Inside Your House is that its entire storyline is a mix of genres. At its core, it's very much so a typical Stephanie Perkins novel--with a lot of thrills, chills and twists sprinkled in for good measure.

This seems to be some level of confusion or distress for some readers, due in part to the way it was marketed (as a full on slasher novel) and the manner in which we--as readers--take upon ourselves to build up an image of what we believe the story will be before picking it up. At the end of the day, this is what brings in the disappointment afterwards... our inability to understand that a story isn't always our first impression of it.

Truth is: in There's Someone Inside Your House, Perkins pens a wickedly delicious thriller, slashed deeply with romance, wit and lovable characters. The novel itself is exactly how you might picture a horror novel by her to be--and I found it thoroughly entertaining. So, no. In my eyes, it didn't feel quite as frustrating for me as many other readers have seemed to say. There's Someone Inside Your House is not a full-blown horror novel but it still twists the reader in their seat from suspense and is far from a letdown.

I do think some people forget to have an understanding of (1) YA boundaries, in terms of what they can or cannot publish. (2) Most tales have hints of more than one genre in them. In short, while I will refrain from "dragging" any reviewers, I will say this: the biggest flaw of Perkins' latest is not its plots but in its marketing and the notions that readers developed long before picking up the book itself.

As far as the story goes, there was just something in the tone of the book that felt both thrilling and nostalgic. Stephanie Perkins' signature is that warm and fuzzy feeling that comes with falling in love. Although the romance is more of a background noise/plot and tied into the spree killer plotlines, it still gives you that boost that is--at times--necessary to have to ground a reader. This is a book of horror for those who are new to the genre--but who still aren't squeamish at the creatively horrifying ways the murderer... sets up the victim's bodies.

Fans of Sara Shepard, Kate Brian, Lois Duncan and (especially the underrated) Katie Alender will appreciate the novel as it is bordering the lines of horror and contemporary. It's subtle, it's creepy and it's a fantastic introduction to slasher stories and their tropes. In some ways, it flips the tropes around. Think of it as Scream meets Pretty Little Liars meets Anna and the French Kiss.

Because of the darkest moments, how shattering the description are during the kills--from the victim's final moments, I don't recommend this to people who are positively incapable of stomaching violence.

While it is far from typical gore, straddling that line between genres again, there are still elements to the murders that are quite triggering for some of you. There are more than a few trigger warnings in the entire novel, too--including mentions of hazing and self harm. It is entirely necessary to warn you about these topics, so you are prepared to avoid the novel or give yourself time to read it on your own terms.

That being said, here are some of my favourite parts that I'd like to note:

  • Oh, I loved the tone. How it was split between our main character, Makani Young, and various classmates of hers as they meet their fate.There's something about the way it unfolds that is a bit reminiscent of Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer and I really really dig that. Minus the ghostly and murderous historical figure, you know? ANYWAYS. You can't get a more haunting prose than that of people who are living out their final moments and getting that extra glimpse into the (then) anonymous killer's... arrangements. It makes you want justice for the victims and in a way, gives you an idea how messed up the killer is. You instantly want to know his motives. You know the victims in just one brief glimpse--but it's enough to crash down on you. 
  • The characters! My favourites, naturally, were Makani, Darby, Ollie, Alex and Makani's lovely Grandmother. Because of the fact that there's a FREAKING SERIAL KILLER ON THE LOOSE, I was stressed 99% of the time and hoping "NOT MY BABIES!" because, obviously. It's like watching Anna or Lola or Isla be in the clutches of a murderer. It's very stressful and 10/10 I was an emotional wreck by the end of the novel.
  • Who the killer was, wasn't draw out. I wasn't surprised by it, but I was just relieved to know who it was and thought it was smart to not keep us hanging on that. Sometimes, plots move more smoothly once you know who the bad guy is. Guessing games are fun, but there's something more chilling about being in the know and trying to prevent certain events from taking place or escalating. 
  • Makani's backstory. And, well, her entire character. She is just a delight to read about and you want to protect her throughout the entire book. I found her to be sympathetic, flawed, brave and undeniably a teenage girl. I liked the sex positivity, the fact that her history wasn't in black and white. Makani had that right mix of having a history, desiring to move forward in her life, still having her regrets but not dealing with them realistically. 
  • The friendship between Makani, Darby and Alex. Excuse me, I'm going to go cry now.
  • DARBY IN GENERAL. What an angel. I loved him instantly. Can he be my best friend? My smol son. Me, reading There's Someone Inside Your House: PROTECT DARBY AT ALL COSTS.
  • There's a bit of diversity in this go around. And the way Perkins approaches these topics is quite good. It's nice to finally see more literature that reflects real life. 
  • And of course, Makani and Ollie's relationship. It's sweet. It's fun. Again, it provides a nice bit of peace in all that hell. 
  • Ollie's hair. Ollie's existence. Ollie's backstory. Ollie's relationship with his brother. Ollie being naked around a killer made me scream in laughter. 
  • The humor. 
And then... the bad and ugly parts: 
  • I felt like, firstly, we had no closure at the ending. I didn't think it was a bad one. I just would have liked less loose ends and a few check-ups on those who survived the killer. We saw the death of so many people, I just would have liked to see a bit more healing--especially after its final chapters. Shudder. 
  • Makani's mother. That's it. I hate her. 
I have this theory that the only reason so many people were let down by There's Someone Inside Your House because they were expecting it to be something that it wasn't. The truth is, it wasn't any one genre. It had horror tropes and death and pain and sorrow. Thrills were present. Mystery dangling in front of us for at least half of the book. Coming of age in a small town and the way the very same small town bands together in the face of tragedy. Family--the good, the bad and the ugly. 

And of course, love. 

There's a spark to the story itself that kept me glued to my seat until the final pages. Call it a quirk of a good Stephanie Perkins novel, but I was compelled to read on and on until there was nothing left to see. While it isn't my favourite book of hers, it was definitely a fun and slightly spooky read--I had a blast reading it and would gladly read it again. I think diehard fans of her will be conflicted, but as long as you don't go into There's Someone Inside Your House thinking too much about what you think it should be, you'll enjoy it. 

I loved seeing Perkins branch out into a new element and think she did so gracefully. Another fantastic read from Stephanie Perkins!

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