by Nina Arquiza
“My life is crumbling away before my eyes while I do nothing to prevent it. I have visited too many funerals, for too many friends who haunt my dreams. Everybody dies eventually, right? No, everybody dies young when they befriend me. Was I born to die young? I don’t think so. I’m the only one here with the nerve to stay alive. I can’t be left alone. Not with that hollow man, the one who hides his face. That’s what he wants, me to be alone, because once I’m alone he’s going to kill me!”
Seventeen-year-old Rosetta Harper is plagued by nightmares of a masked man. With her father’s new career move, her family has just relocated from Florida to the small New England town of Ashwood. A quiet town and close-knit community where you know your neighbors, and trouble is a word unspoken. But soon after her arrival, her world and the worlds of her classmates come crashing down.
Michael hates his family and feels alone and unloved. He only finds comfort when he’s with his friends, but even they get on his nerves. Everything about Ashwood and his life bores him, until Rosetta Harper moves into town. With her as a new classmate, Michael finally gets the excitement he was looking for, but it may be at too high a cost. Read reviews: Goodreads
WHAT I LIKED
Barking Madness has the common themes found in YA literature: young protagonists, set in high school and trying to find their way, and themselves, when everything around them seems to be in a state of change.
However, it does not read like the typical YA. It is darker, not only in the style of writing, but also in some of its themes—domestic abuse, drug use and suicide. This is obviously not a happy book.
But the writing is actually one of the things I liked best about this novel. It is atmospheric, and (Spoiler alert! Highlight succeeding text to read.) it takes you right into the forest where Rose is attacked, when Mike is contemplating suicide, or his friend Kyle talks about his alcoholic and abusive father.
It also helps in my reconciliation of two things different as night and day: werewolves and teen problems. Despite the existence of werewolves in the novel, it does not feel very fantastical, and instead just seems like an extension of very real problems the teenagers in this book face.
There is also a fair amount of gore and violence, but if you’ve read The Hunger Games or watched Game of Thrones, or any other book and show where blood is spilt, you’ll be fine. The scenes where there are attacks are actually some of my favorite, since they are well-written.
Darn kids. The thing that irks me the most with this book is its characters, so much so that throughout reading this, I had to stop because I felt frustrated with them. Because, really, was it too much to ask that these kids stop to ask, or think? But this is only a minor quirk and besides, they are teenagers. I suppose it’s a testament to the writing that the characters bothered me this much.
There are also times when I felt there was too much conversation. Is there such a thing? I always say it is annoying when characters do not communicate with each other rather than actually talking, but in Barking Madness, there were some pages with nothing but just words being traded back and forth. I’m more of a ‘show me, don’t tell me’ kind of girl.
This kind of YA isn’t actually my cup of tea. I prefer romance or fantasy but I liked Barking Madness for its different spin on YA, and dealing with realities that teenagers face.
Basically, if you want something light and easy to read, this isn’t for you. But if you want something gritty, grim and different, give Barking Madness a try. ☁