First Lines: Neena cut the engine, and the speakers went silent. Mid-lyric. The trail was straight ahead, but her gaze could only follow it to its first bend.
Usually, I’m not the kind of person to gravitate toward horror. Do I sometimes enjoy it? Yes. I’ve read a handful of Stephen King books in my time. But generally, it’s not something I find myself drawn to. But with Stephanie Perkins as the author, I find myself more likely to pick it up.
Neena and Josie have spent high school as outsiders. Loners, if you can be a loner together with your best friend. But with college looming on the horizon and two thousand miles of distance coming for them, they have one last chance to spend some real time together…on a three-day hike deep in the Pisgah National Forest. With tensions rising between them and a detour off their trail, the girls soon find that something is watching from the woods. And this last-chance hike may be their last, for real…
Ok, so the overall Goodreads rating for this book (3.17 when I read it, 3.12 at present) is surprisingly low. And I feel bad for this book. Yes, it has its issues, but it wasn’t a bad story if you keep an eye on your expectations.
What I mean by that is that it’s essentially YA horror. Horror is about the suspense and the thrill rather than the characters or themes or anything like that. And I thought this was a really good thrill.
We’re following Neena and Josie, two friends on the verge of starting college on opposite coasts. They’re scared their friendship may not last and, before they split, they go on a three day hiking trip just outside their homes in Asheville, NC. But obviously, things don’t turn out the way they expect.
The plot is super easy to follow. There aren’t really any subplots or anything. It focuses mostly on Josie and Neena’s hurt feelings between each other and then, obviously, the horror of what’s in the woods. That’s pretty much the story.
Josie and Neena are fairly flat characters, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t dynamic. But again, the story was mostly about what’s in the woods and the suspense, so I wasn’t expecting a heavy character-driven story. Knowing what I know about Stephanie Perkins’s love of horror movies, this was essentially what I was expecting.
The story is gory, graphic, and has a lot of profanity, if any of that bothers you. It’s written in ways meant to shock you. I had fun with that but I know not everyone feels that way.