Book Reviews

The Cellar

Shoutout to COVID-19 for keeping me in the house and forcing me to pay attention to my blog again! #socialdistancing

Knowing I’d be stuck in the house for a little while now that classes are cancelled and I’m working remotely, I decided to pick up another book to keep me busy/sane. In the naming of switching things up, I opted for Natasha Preston’s The Cellar, a young adult ~novel~ about an abducted teenager.

It’s a pretty straightforward plot: insecure white girl, Summer, ignores her gorgeous and tan boyfriend and walks to a party alone and gets kidnapped seven pages in (so much for character introductions before shit gets real) by a “freak” and a “psycho,” which seem to be the only two words Preston could come up with to describe the kidnapper. She’s then forced to live as a “perfect family” with other young kidnapped women. They’re all renamed as flowers: Lily, Poppy, Violet, and Rose because flowers are perfect and this is the perfect family. Not cliche at all. Thus, ensues the *checks notes* eight-month search for the missing Summer, which seems a completely unrealistic amount of time for a search to go on, even an informal one made up of concerned neighbors. At some point SOMEONE would have had to be like, “She’s dead.” Right? Her family might’ve gone on, sure, but being able to gather a task force of community members ~67% of a year after someone’s gone missing seems totally far-fetched. Anyway, that’s it, the whole plot. Spoiler alert: Summer’s found. And lives happily ever after.

OR DOES SHE??!?!?!?!

I actually don’t know. The book ends on a pseudo-cliffhanger, and The Cellar is listed as #1, meaning more books on our dull protagonist and her kidnapper are out there somewhere waiting to taint the youth’s reading lists, but I will not be reading any further than this book.

So why the hate? It’s just not a good book. It’s poorly written, there’s the occasional grammatical error (annoying, where are the editors!??!?!!?!?) characters who are denied decent descriptions and personalities that go beyond either crying or being angry, and a completely unrealistic dynamic between a teenage couple that was almost nauseating. The ending is completely rushed with its miracle rescue and Summer being able to integrate back into her old life after months of being trapped in a cellar watching women get murdered and being herself abused. It’s fiction, I know, but Christ, even fiction has its limits before it’s just too much. And that’s what The Cellar is. Too much and not enough at the same time. Just “yuergh” everywhere.

I can’t even give it the satisfaction of saying that while I didn’t enjoy it, it was at least a decent escape from being stuck in the house indefinitely. Because it wasn’t. It was just annoying and cheap. I actually skimmed the last fifty pages or so just to be done with it. I’ve got nothing good to say about The Cellar. I picked it up because I do love a good thriller and I haven’t read a young adult fiction book since I myself was a young adult, but man was this bad. I’ll also admit, I thought adults who read young adult books were weird and felt a little guilty about it – people should be able to enjoy what they enjoy without judgement – so that’s also why I picked it up. Maybe I’d find some pleasure in YA books again even though I’m 24 and a half and basically a decrepit old woman. But, unfortunately, this was not the book to regain my interest in YA fiction. Zero stars.

Prior to The Cellar, I’ve only ever genuinely hated one book in my life: Fahrenheit 451. Read it in middle school, haven’t picked it up since, couldn’t even tell you what the plot is in entirety. But I remember hating it. Hated it so much I used it as a doorstopper, and I’d NEVER treat a book like that normally. Well, move over Fahrenheit 451, The Cellar has come to take your place as Amber’s Most Hated Book.

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