A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Crazy House is a violent thriller set in a dystopian world, written by James Patterson and Gabrielle Charbonnet. It features many violent scenes of gladiatorial combat between young children and teens, as well as execution by lethal injection. Swearing is frequent, with variants of "s--t" and "a--hole," as well as "hell" and "damn." Becca and Cassie each has a romantic interest, but there's little time for romance beyond a couple of passionate embraces.
What's the story?
CRAZY HOUSE opens with the mysterious disappearance of Becca Greenfield, one of the town troublemakers. The only person openly concerned for her safety is her twin sister Cassie, who is told to drop her investigation into Becca's whereabouts. Becca has been taken to Crazy House, a hellish prison for children, where the inmates fight bone-breaking duels, and everyone resides on Death Row. Eventually Cassie and Becca are pitted against each other in a desperate struggle for survival.
Is it any good?
Gladiator-style beatdowns between children and teens are extremely disturbing, and this dystopian thriller relies on them too frequently. James Patterson and his co-author deliver short, punchy chapters that will appeal to reluctant readers, but there's a whiff of exploitation in this tale of twin sisters forced to fight each other. It makes Crazy House seem like a Hunger Games wannabe. There's a big buildup to a climactic reversal, but so far it doesn't make a whole lot of sense.
The book ends with the strong implication that there will be continuing volumes, but there's no guarantee that all readers will want to follow along to the next bloody installment.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Crazy House and how it depicts a dystopian society. Why are stories about near-future authoritarianism so popular?
How is violence used in Crazy House? Is there a purpose behind it? Does that purpose make sense?
Do governments ever lie to their citizens? What can people do to learn the truth about political issues?
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