Paperback: $9.87, 432 pages, Spiegel & Grau (2013)
Hardcover: $9, 432 pages, Spiegel & Grau (2012)
Kindle: $11.99, 434 pages, Spiegel & Grau (2012)
Audiobook: $29.99, Dreamscape Media (2012)
- ISBN-10: 1400069866
- ISBN-13: 978-1400069866
- ISBN-10: 0812982258
- ISBN-13: 978-0812982251
- ISBN-10: 1611208564
- ISBN-13: 978-1611208566
Pepper has been confined in a mental institution and must now fight the devil.
Pepper has been dragged to a mental institution after assaulting three police officers. They lock him up for a 72 hour watch. He gets questioned by a disinterested panel of doctors and nurses and then shuffled off to a room. He meets Dory, a patient who was the first person on the ward, in the hallway and she explains the situation in the ward. She tells Pepper what each hallway is, and where not to go.
In the morning Pepper is required to take meds which dull his senses. Pepper keeps questioning staff about why he is there and keeps trying to figure out a way out. One night he sees the Devil drop from the ceiling and it assaults him. He sees a chance when Loochie (a teenage inmate) is escorting her family out of the mental ward. Pepper makes a break for it when the door opens, knocking over Loochie’s family (and a nurse), but he does not escape because Loochie tackles him.
Pepper spends a few days doped up in his room and when he finally comes to he discovers that he has “admitted” himself to the ward. Pepper joins the “book club” and teams up with Dory, Loochie and Coffee (his roommate). He learns about the Devil and the group decide to read “Jaws.” The group tries to decide on a plan to take out the Devil and stop taking their meds, but each member of the crew has their own ideas. Dory wants to talk to the Devil, Coffee wants to call the president about the situation in the institution, Pepper wants to escape and Loochie wants to kill the Devil. The group stashes the night nurses in a room. Coffee makes his call and gets upset that it doesn’t work, Dory and Pepper are fighting and Loochie lets out the Devil. The Devil attacks Loochie, Pepper attacks the Devil and Dory yells at all of them. Coffee goes to stab the Devil and Dory attacks him just as the SWAT team breaks into the institution. They shoot Coffee (a lot).
After a long period of restraints and over medication, Pepper finally regains his faculties. He decides to keep his head down in an effort to get out. He avoids Loochie and Dory and starts hanging out with the night crew. There he falls for Sue (Xiu).
One night Loochie and Dory get in a fight which allows Sue to sneak into Pepper’s room. After, they see the Devil try to take the man across the hall and stop it.
Sue is taken the next day to start the deportation process.
Dory approaches Pepper the morning Sue is taken and gives him a note saying she was wrong and that he should help the Devil. When she goes out for the smoke break she climbs the fence and steps off, killing herself.
While the police are cleaning up Dory, the inmates are taken out of the hospital to a pizza place. Loochie and Pepper reconnect, and Pepper tells her to remember the path from the bus stop to the mental institution, implying they would escape.
The inmates plan an escape through the hidden doors in every room, and one night they do. As they proceed to follow the map that Dory had drawn, they turn on one another when confronted with what to do with the devil. One of the inmates swallows the key to the Devil’s room. Loochie and Pepper sneak off. Pepper helps Loochie escape and then goes back to the group. Some of the group had killed the inmate who swallowed the key as the others watched in horror. They opened the Devil’s room and he came for them. Several inmates get hurt and some die and Pepper realizes the Devil is just a man and protects him.
In the aftermath, the Devil goes to the hospital, and Pepper starts to greet new residents just like Dory did.
I liked this book. It kept me guessing. At one point in time I was sure that the Devil was going to be just in the minds of the inmates. It also made me appalled about mental hospitals.
This book was well written and plotted. While the narrative could be deceptive and the reader couldn’t really guess where it was going, it had a clear path and didn’t deviate.
The characters were mostly three dimensional. They were three dimensional if they needed to be. Characters that were part of Pepper’s story were fleshed out, but others like Scotch Tape were not as three dimensional because they didn’t need to be. We knew what Pepper was going through (and were horrified by it), we eventually understood Dory and felt for poor Sue. The setting was truly horrifying and was a terrible character in itself. The action was thrilling and terrifying.
I found myself on the edge of my seat the whole ride. I found myself gasping several times and shed a tear for Sue and Pepper at the end. It wasn’t an emotional ride the whole way, but there were times when I really felt the story.
I think this is a great book for its audience (Adult horror readers). It has some really great psychological horror that digs deep in your psyche. It has a compelling monster and horrendous setting and enough action to keep the reader going.
I might replace this one with Shutter Island. They both have a psychological horror, but of different types.
Horror, Psychological Suspence
End of Watch by Stephen King
Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane
The Dark Room by Minette Walters
A one of a kind premise that seems supernatural that turns out not to be. A unique look at the patients of a mental institution whose horrors are not only monsters, but the system itself.
Book Discussion Questions and Ideas
What do you think it meant that the patients saw the Devil as a Devil but the staff did not?
What would you have done in Josephine’s situation after the first revolt?
Do you think that the support for the mentally ill is satisfactory today?
Discuss experiences with people with mental disabilities.
New York Times Notable Book (2012), Top 10 Book of 2012
Why I Chose It
Book Talk book, but also what an intriguing idea! The summary really drew me in and I wanted to know if it was a literal or figurative devil.