Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Review: The Cellar by Natasha Preston

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I received this book for free from Raincoast Books in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The Cellar by Natasha PrestonThe Cellar by Natasha Preston
Published by Sourcebooks Fire on March 1st 2014
Genres: Mystery, Thriller, YA
Source: Raincoast Books
Buy on Amazon

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….


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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26 Responses to “Review: The Cellar by Natasha Preston”

  1. Nick @ Nick's Book Blog

    I was interested in this book because of that cover and that concept too. I’m sad to hear that it didn’t draw out any emotions from you, Jenni.
    It seems like it could have been such an interesting and emotional story.
    I don’t like the sound of the writing, especially the jumping time frames. That’s not something I typically enjoy in my novels. I think I’ll give this one a skip.
    Lovely honest review, Jenni.

  2. Jenea @ Books Live Forever

    I think the back and forth between the POV’s and flashbacks sounds like I would end up confused at times, but Stockholm Syndrome is something that I think would be interesting to read about. I’m glad you enjoyed it for the most part. I think I will keep and eye out for it.

  3. Faye @ The Social Potato

    Hah! I read someone else’s review of this particular book not too long ago and they pretty much felt the same way regarding connecting to the characters. I like multiple povs every now and then, but it sucks if they make it confusing for the reader 🙁 I’m pretty certain now that this isn’t for me >_< AS much as possible I would like to avoid those books that would only leave me frustrated. Great review, Jenni 🙂

  4. Tina

    Ohh that cover and synopsis really got me excited, haha. Tops that are uncomfortable really draw me in too. Multiple POVs already confuse me. I can deal when there’s only 2 of them but I’d usually prefer for there to be just one. Now apparently there are multiple POVS and flashbacks in them. THat would definitely keep me disconnected. I need to really see into the main characters mind to connect and therefore get obsessed with the story. Might try it one day anyway if I need a read!

  5. Millie Dixon

    Too bad you didn’t enjoy it as much as you would have liked. I have to say, however, it still sounds like such an interesting and haunting read. I usually don’t read books like this for the fact that it’s so realistic and, as you put it, uncomfortable, but I am deeply interested in this book. Great review. However, that changing POV and time thing would drive me up a wall.

  6. Eileen @ Singing and Reading in the Rain

    I definitely know what you mean! I feel like the various time jumps were okay at first, but then after it keeps happening over and over again, each with different time periods, it was so confusing. Also I had an issue with how it seemed like the main character Summer didn’t end up as psychologically affected during her time in the cellar because she didn’t seem all that different from Clover’s patterns. I agree, though, this would totally be a great read for someone looking for a kind of passive read. But anyway, fantastic review, Jenni! <33

  7. P.E. @ The Sirenic Codex

    Passive doesn’t sound very good. I don’t think I’ll mind the flashbacks and changes in time that much because I never really seem to mind those in books, even when I’ve read other people’s reviews critiquing them. The cover is good and the premise sounds interesting, so I’ll still be looking forward to reading The Cellar! Thanks for the review!

  8. kimbacaffeinate

    I enjoy multiple pov’s especially those from the killer/captor etc and even love flashbacks, but the mid chapter stuff drives me insane. The breaks need to be clean, I don’t care if the chapters are only a page or two long but I need to know where I am and who I am with.

  9. Christy

    I was immediately drawn to the cover too. It is simple, yet it has a certain vibe to it. The story sounds good despite the way the flashbacks and such were.

  10. JennRenee

    I will be starting this book real soon. I hope I love it. I have heard great things about it. I do get how the multitude of flasbacks could hinder the story. I also have a hard time with them in books. It breaks up the story and usually just about when something exciting is going to happen. I tend to get a bit confused with back and forth too. It takes brilliant writing to make the flip flop work well. I tend to be good with multiple POVs if they are done well and if the characters are a very important part of the story. Some books seems to throw in unimportant povs and that is annoying. great review.

  11. Christianna

    This book sounds pretty gnarly. It’s a bummer that all the timeline jumping and POV’s got in the way of the story for you though. I have a feeling I might feel the same way, but your review also makes me very curious. I hadn’t heard of this one before.

  12. Henrietta

    I’ve been wondering about this one and it seems like it has some strong elements but the multiple POVs and the jumping around of events might have made it less enjoyable. Thanks for sharing, Jenni!

  13. Pamela D

    I am not a huge fan of lots of flashbacks and character POV hopping unless it is clearly marked in the text. Glad to hear that it was an okay read. 🙂

  14. Wendy Darling

    This may be weird, but I am fascinated by stories about kidnappings and imprisonment as well. I am totally obsessed with reading new stories about it, and I find it such a inexplicably inhuman and devastating thing to do to another person that part of me really wants to understand how it could happen.

    I was totally interested in this book for that reason, but as always, your review is so helpful in telling me exactly what I want to know. I NEED to be moved by stories like this unless they’re straightforward thrillers, so…I’ll go into this with tempered expectations. Also, the flashbacks with multiple POVs thing…booooooo.

    Have you read LIVING DEAD GIRL by Elizabeth Scott? It is, hands down, still the best book I’ve read on this topic, YA or otherwise.

    • Jenni

      Yeah, I was very disappointing that there was no real emotional connection for me and this one, that’s definitely a big part of these stories for me as reader. I’m happy to not be alone in my weird little obsession with these stories.

      I haven’t read that one but you can bet your little patootie that I will be picking it up today! Thanks for the recommendation!

    • Hana

      Just scrolling through the comments section because I’m writing a book report on this (due today I procrastinate) and I saw you recommendation of Living Dead Girl. I just wanted to applaud you for that because no one I know has ever heard of the darn thing. I read it just this summer along with The Cellar and Go Ask Alice.All wonderful in my opinion. No real point to this just wanted to recognize you!!

  15. Jackie @ Bibliobrat

    I admit; I’m a sucker for a good cover and an even better creepy pervert kidnapping villain (what a mouthful!), but I’ve heard some pretty underwhelming things about this title. Great review!

  16. Melliane

    I’m sorry you were disconnected, I confess I didn’t know this one but as soon as I saw the cover I thought the same. It’s really intriguing, and the idea makes me want to discover the story but maybe I’ll pass for this one…

  17. Joy @ Thoughts By J

    I agree with you, topics like kidnapping really interest me as well, but it might be because I’m a media student and I’m expected to keep up with such news stories. So sorry this wasn’t as great as you expected, the blurb made it sound so interesting. Question though, is Colin from the blurb Clover from your review? Haha I was wondering who Clover was! 😛

    • Jenni

      Oh sorry, I guess that’s something I should have explained a bit better. Yes, Colin is the captor and he has this odd obsession with flowers so in his world he’s Clover and he also changes the girls names as well. There’s Rose, Violet, Lily and Poppy. All very strange.

  18. Amy @ Book Loving Mom

    This sounds good, but I don’t think I would like the jumping around much either. It sounds like it really takes away from the emotional impact that could have been there. This cover is really gorgeous. I think at some point I would like to give this one a try, but it’s nothing I would rush out to get. Great review hon.