Kierstin White is one of the most notable young adult authors working in the genre. Her fantasy and horror young adults novels range from fantasies set in the Ottoman Empire and Arthurian legends to retellings of Frankenstein’s monster.
I was excited to try out Kierstin White’s adult debut Hide that released on May 24th, 2022 because of how loved her young adult novels are. I am not a reader of young adult, but am always game to try a successful author’s adult debut, especially one that uses mythology (no spoilers, promise).
Reviews of Hide boasted praise such as this from Booklist: “The suspenseful plot combines elements of Thomas Tryon’s classic Harvest Home, Netflix’s Squid Game, and the social commentary of Jordan Peele’s film oeuvre and mixes these with a revelatory pacing reminiscent of Spielberg’s Jaws.”
Mack is invited, with a group of others, to embark on a large-scale amusement park game of hide-and-seek. The winner gets enough money to change their life. Everyone is desperate to win, locked in an arena, tasked with not being found by the searcher.
Mack knows how to hide: her father murdered her mother and sister as she hid in a cabinet. Mack’s trauma comes roaring back as the players realize that the game has higher stakes than anyone thought. People are actually dying when they’re found.
Fourteen players and seven days. Hide for your life.
The concept of Hide merges The Hunger Games with Maze Runner. The contestants try to find their way through the game of sinister hide-and-seek to escape their deaths. While Hide is marketed as Kierstin White’s adult debut, it is definitely more young adult than I’m sure the publisher would like it to be. Fans of Hide will be fans of high-stakes young adult contest novels.
If you like serious horror, you should pass on this one. There are many juvenile aspects to this novel. The characters are not fleshed out in the way they could be. The main character, Mack, is the only character I felt I knew about 70% of the way. All other secondary and minor characters were very flat and not in the least multi-faceted. As soon as I finished this book, I forgot the names of all the other 13 characters promptly.
This novel is more like slightly spooky teenage candy rather than a serious attempt at horror like the cover and description would have you think. The atmosphere is not as dark as it could be as there isn’t a lot of world building, and the “seeker” in the story is hard to wrap your mind around. Explanations are wobbly and characters and how they relate are shallow.
The positive aspects of the novel are really to be found in the pacing. I was pushed along in the journey trying to find out what was seeking the players and why as well as who would live, if any. This is a good novel to read for a little fun, but keep expectations low. You’ll find it more fun this way!(2.5 / 5)