Genre: Mystery, Thriller, YA
Publication date: March 1st 2014
by Sourcebooks Fire
Nothing ever happens in the town of Long Thorpe – that is, until sixteen-year-old Summer Robinson disappears without a trace. No family or police investigation can track her down. Spending months inside the cellar of her kidnapper with several other girls, Summer learns of Colin’s abusive past, and his thoughts of his victims being his family…his perfect, pure flowers. But flowers can’t survive long cut off from the sun, and time is running out….
-A copy was provided by Raincoast Books for review-
The beautiful, yet haunting cover for The Cellar is what initially drew me to want to read the novel. Once I read more about it and saw that it was about girls who were kidnapped and kept in a cellar for months, possibly years, I had to read it because uncomfortable topics like that always draw me to stories (I’m weird, I know this.) In the end this was an interesting story that kept me engaged the whole way through but unfortunately it failed to really affect me in any way or draw out any emotion.
I can’t really pin point why I felt so disconnected to The Cellar, but I think a very large part of it was due to the overuse of flashbacks while also using multiple POVs. We start off the story as Summer on the night that she gets kidnapped by Clover. As the story goes on we get chapters here and there from the perspective of Lewis, Summer’s boyfriend as he relentlessly searchers for her, and even some chapters from the captor himself, Clover. I appreciated getting into Clover’s head and seeing just how sick he was but the constant jumping around kept jarring me out of really getting lost in the story. Not only do we switch POV’s but the timeframe also changes numerous times in the story, often right in the middle of a chapter. There were headings letting us know what year we were reading about but the back and forth wasn’t consistent and I had a very hard time pinpointing exactly what time frame I was reading about even with the year right there. Sometimes we were reading about before Summer got with her boyfriend, sometimes we read about when they were together, then we read about Clover when his mom was alive, after his mom was dead, when he got the first girls in his life, there was just way too much jumping around going on. I think that the use of flashbacks could have been effective in showing the depth of Summer and Lewis’ relationship but there was way too much usage of it which just made it feel lacklustre and confused me as the reader.
When I liked The Cellar the most was when we would get stretches that were told in the present. I liked seeing everything through Clover’s eyes and even seeing him go so far as to join the search parties for Summer. I liked seeing Lewis’ desperation to find her and Summer’s POV was downright chilling. Life down in the cellar was so messed up. There were girls that were brought down there only to be murdered and there were girls who were suffering from such intense Stockholm Syndrome that they actually seemed happy with their day to day life. The tension of being down there daily and the monotony of the life Clover made these girls live was conveyed very well. I think if the story had stuck to a more linear tale of the kidnapping and searching for the girls it would have been something I could have gotten more lost in because that was definitely what was most enjoyable for me.
While this isn’t the best story on the subject of kidnapping and being imprisoned I have read, it still managed to keep me interested and I had to know exactly how it would end. If you’re looking for a fairly passive read on a topic such a this I think this one could be for you, but if you are looking for one that will be emotionally affecting I have to recommend that you look elsewhere.
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