by Sarah Nove ‘20
“There’s Someone Inside Your House,” by Stephanie Perkins, is suspenseful from the very first chapter, where readers are thrown straight into the gruesome world of murder and mutilation. The teen slasher story revolves around a mysterious serial killer who targets students from a small town high school in Nebraska. No one, not even the protagonist Makani, is free from suspicion. In a story teeming with secrets, readers find themselves asking “why?” more often than “who?”
The grisly descriptions of victims may be off-putting to squeamish readers, but act as an effective tactic to turn up the heat in the world of the novel. Each murder follows a seemingly random pattern, making for a high-stakes atmosphere and intense plot that keep readers invested in the story. The characters are likable and witty, but they scream “young adult novel.” Their teen drama and lighthearted banter feel out of place in a story where readers aren’t sure if a dead body will show up on the next page. With the drama comes some romance, as is expected from Perkins, who originally made a name for herself as YA romance author. However, if you are looking for a sugary romance novel similar to Perkins’s earlier works, you may want to look elsewhere–“There’s Someone Inside Your House” is a huge divergence from the novels she has written in the past. This story will take your breath away in a very different way.
From beginning to end, the book maintains a fast, you-blink-you-miss-it pace that makes it nearly impossible to put down. The rural setting adds to the suspense; the empty fields and quiet streets prove to be unsettling while remaining realistic enough to keep readers immersed. However, this sensation of immersion is occasionally broken by a few irritating habits that Perkins falls into throughout the book.
The first of these annoyances is due to the the extensive cast of characters. Though true to life, the long list of names that are mentioned in the book is confusing at times. Perkins sometimes references a character who she mentioned once or twice in earlier chapters, prompting readers to flip through old chapters trying to figure out who’s who. This takes readers out of the story and diminishes the suspense.
The other prevalent flaw is the unrealistic relationship and interactions between Makani and her ‘mystery boy’ love interest. He’s a rebel with a kind heart, she’s a pretty girl with a dark past–it’s a bit cliché. With that said, it’s not a bad premise, it just doesn’t fit in this novel. The pair’s romantic subplot feels out of place amongst the horrific murders, and distracts from the main plotline.
Despite its faults, “There’s Someone Inside Your House” is a thrilling read that will make your skin crawl. With this novel, Perkins not only broke out of her wheelhouse–she demolished it.