HideHide by Kiersten White
My rating: 4/5 cats
One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

this book knew just how to get my attention:

✓ deadly high stakes competition set in an abandoned amusement park.

✓ innocent childhood game given a horror movie coating, sinisterizing the phrase “come out, come out, wherever you are…”

✓ large group of strangers dwindling down à la And Then There Were None.

✓ characters isolated from the real world, with all of its pesky rules and social niceties.

✓ survival of the scrappiest.

i was expecting a Battle Royale kind of story, and it wasn’t until i had the ARC in my hot little hands that i learned this was a rework of the minotaur/labyrinth myth, an unexpected supernatural angle which forced me to recalibrate—and if i’m being honest—lower my expectations.

in a second unwelcome surprise, the ARC’s “dear reader” letter (am i the only one who reads these?) proclaims the story to be: an of-the-moment, scarily precise diagnosis of class and privilege and generational wealth.

huh? i thought i was getting a mindless splatter-romp through an amusement park like FantasticLand, where—if there was any attempt at a social message it was buried beneath a heap of body parts.

let us leave unexamined what it says about me that i use competitive murder books as escapist entertainment. suffice it to say, i ride the subway into the city every day, which gives me a front-row seat to the decline of civilization along with some simmering fantasies about thinning out the human herd.

however, despite my apprehension about its supernatural foes and societal woes, i was completely won over. the social commentary wasn’t too heavy-handed and was well-integrated into the architecture of the story, and the beastie proved just as good as a human adversary at satisfying my bloodthirsty little readersoul. it helped that—precision be damned—i just pictured the red bull from The Last Unicorn.

PLOTSTUFF: fourteen competitors enter a weeklong hide-and-seek tournament with a $50,000 prize. some of the players are modern-world visionaries looking to harness the publicity of the competition to kickstart their brand and some are disadvantaged people who could really use that fifty thou in prize money to, you know, live. and all they have to do to win is scatter and stay hidden from dawn to dusk within the crumbling, overgrown amusement park until one person remains. if you’re found, you’re done.

you. are. done.

hide-and-seek may not be a team sport, but any Survivor-savvy strategist knows the importance of forming alliances, and some of our merry band will approach this adventure like any other reality-tv scenario—speechifying and working their angles for the hidden cameras, but they will soon discover that the stakes are higher than advertised, the game is rigged, and—far from being a random selection process, the contestants have all been chosen because of the one thing they all have common.

bwah ha haaaaaa…

don’t worry about keeping track of all fourteen characters, because the bodies start dropping so quickly that the first batch of cannon-fodder contestants don’t even get fleshed out beyond the broad strokes of their personalities before they’re gone. the group whittles down quickly until only a handful remain, and thankfully these characters are well-developed with fully defined personalities and backstories designed to ignite the reader’s sympathies—flawed but likable underdogs with hard-earned survival skills put to good use.

it’s less graphically brutal than i’d anticipated, but more psychologically brutal, an emotionally effective survival story of class divide and the entitled elite driven by the same “some people are disposable” philosophy as The Most Dangerous Game and Good Rich People, but with more monsters at the story’s center.

and also a minotaur.


it is HERE!!!! HOLD MY CALLS!!


OMG the ARC for this is on its way to me. i might have to get covid again so i can curl up with it uninterrupted.



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