Hide by Kiersten White (2022)
YA Fiction | Horror-Thriller
The challenge: spend a week hiding in an abandoned amusement park and don’t get caught.
The prize: enough money to change everything.
Even though everyone is desperate to win–to seize their dream futures or escape their haunting pasts–Mack feels sure that she can beat her competitors. All she has to do is hide, and she’s an expert at that.
It’s the reason she’s alive, and her family isn’t.
But as the people around her begin disappearing one by one, Mack realizes this competition is more sinister than even she imagined, and that together might be the only way to survive.
Fourteen competitors. Seven days. Everywhere to hide, but nowhere to run.
Come out, come out, wherever you are.
A high-stakes hide-and-seek competition turns deadly in this dark supernatural thriller from New York Times bestselling author Kiersten White.
pooled ink Review:
1st Disclaimer: I am not, in general, a fan of the horror genre or any of its cousins. So, ya know, take my review with a grain of salt/that in mind.
2nd Disclaimer: This review contains major spoilers.
As I just mentioned, I don’t love the horror genre. In fact, I do pretty much all I can to avoid reading or watching anything of the kind. So why did I read this book?? Well…every once in a while a story catches my eye and I decide to nudge my toe into the shadows with a curious “what if”. The cover is what caught my attention. It’s phenomenal. I’m honestly tempted to buy a copy of this book (I borrowed mine from the library) just to have its awesomeness on my bookshelf.
Then I read the blurb and I was admittedly intrigued. It sounded like a thriller and for some reason I wanted to try it. It sounded a bit frightening yet exciting and I wanted to know the big secret WHY behind it all.
Now that I’ve read the book itself, I have a few thoughts.
Right away this book was c r e e p y which was absolutely its goal (point to the book!) and yet even though it made me shudder, I couldn’t look away. I simply kept turning the page. We meet Mack, the main character, and immediately are introduced to this hiding competition with a $50,000 prize. Mack, being in a desperate situation, takes up their offer and enters. I, being safe and cozy at home, am…not yet skeptical more curious. I know the competition is going to spiral into horror because the blurb all but said so, however I don’t yet know who to suspect or where to begin with guessing why. I do, however, know that this sounds like the stupidest competition idea ever. Did no one else think how truly awful it would be to hide and try not to move or make a sound or eat or pee or breathe fully from dawn to dusk for seven days?! No thank you, Linda.
NEXT, the competitors begin being gathered and shuttled and it’s a bit sus but okay there was a scheduling mix up so I can let it go. BUT THEN they arrive in town after (obviously – as Ava suspects to her credit) being drugged so they don’t know where they really are. That could be overlooked because sure they were pretty tired but the town?? And the townsfolk?? SO SUS. Oh my gosh the red flags really start popping up but when you’re not looking for them, as they weren’t, they can be hard to see and these people are so desperate for that prize money that they wouldn’t see a red flag if it slapped them across the face.
Creepy little town full of creepy people with their odd behavior and suspicious competition…everything should really have them suspicious and yet not a one (okay, Ava a bit) sniffs anything amiss. True they all get a bit uncomfortable, their subconscious likely sensing that something is amiss, but that prize and their egos are like self-woven blindfolds.
The lure of the money and the fear of being embarrassed for being afraid kept them in to begin with.Kiersten White, Hide
TIME TO BEGIN. The suspicious behavior/red flags are really getting obvious by this point, but alas they miss it and are now trapped within an abandoned amusement park and the competition has begun. It’s all a pretty good idea actually and I can see how the town has been able to get away with it for so long. I just don’t understand how these youngsters with their phones not once tried researching this competition or the company online?? I dunno, it feels unlikely. Wait, actually I think at least one person mentions that they tried and found nothing…which should make them suspicious especially in this day and age flooded with scammers…but anyway. There are a bunch of excuses like making them sign wildly intense NDAs and this being a test run for a potential reality competition show etc. but the way each person was invited, the way there’s not a single thing about it online, there are no cameras to be found, no representatives from the sponsoring company, and a bunch of other things really don’t add up and yet they’re so fixated on that prize money and how unhappy they are with their place in life that they just sprint right past it all into the jaws of Hell. Literally. Lol.
It’s amazing what we can convince ourselves to believe. Frightening, actually. In this case, deadly.
Now, up until…I guess about the halfway mark?…it was red flag city BUT it was so creepy and tantalizing and just wow I could not look away! I wanted so badly to know the why of it all! The writing style, the way the horror was implied but never explicitly shown honestly made it so much more creepy. 10/10 for the writing. And then we get to this point in the book and an unlucky lad discovers the secret and I felt a bit disappointed haha. I don’t know why because it was obvious, but maybe a part of me wanted there to be some way clever reason I hadn’t even begun to consider. Instead we find out that basically some of the townspeople in the 1920s made a deal with a demon, or excuse me I mean “the universe” *eyeroll at Linda*, (which included letting it eat them alive as payment. ew. wtf.) to protect their bloodlines from the horrors of the world as they’d just left WWI behind and were shooketh (but come on, when has a deal with Hell ever been a good idea or remotely worth it and also you were barely a part of the war AND HOW DID YOU CONVINCE YOURSELVES TO BE OKAY BEING DEVOURED?!). Of course, that barter for protection and good fortune only lasts for seven years so after that their relations had to pull straws or trick fourteen more of them to go into the creepy temple and be eaten. This insanity has apparently being going on generation after generation (because prosperity is in the bargain, not immortality) ever since up to the day this book takes place. Another seven years, another fourteen people. Insanity.
ALSO all of those people are seriously okay with murdering members of their family every seven years?? It’s just FINE?! And okay yes there are several family members that abandon the town and their mad relatives BUT DO NOTHING ABOUT IT?! They take the prosperity the sacrifices bring but do diddly squat to save their unsuspecting relations. Also, how come only some family members get the good luck while others clearly don’t yet they’re all eligible for being accepted/eaten by the demon?? I get that one really shouldn’t get hung up on the details or the plot holes as the point of the story isn’t really what’s literally happening in the story but rather the theme/deeper message, but omg burn it all down I hate them all.
It’s all very creepy, but come on, what else could it have been? When the book goes *REVEAL* I was just like yeah, yeah I figured. Lol. It seemed pretty obvious from the get-go that this was some sort of psycho sacrifice plot and selfish morons dabbling with the demonic oddly enough seemed more likely than just idk hunting people for “fun” or whatever. At least in this book. It just gave off those vibes.
But yeah, PSA: deals with Hell are just idiotic don’t do them okay please and thank you. Don’t barter, chat, or fiddle with them.
People pretend things aren’t wrong, even when they can feel the truth, because they’re too afraid of what it means to look right at the horror, right at the wrongness, to face the truth in all its terrible glory. Like little kids, playing hide-and-seek. If they can’t see the monster, it can’t get them. But it can. It always can. And while you aren’t looking, it’s eating everyone around youKiersten White, Hide
Anyway, the writing was great, very captivating and creepy, and the use of third person omniscient POV was great, but for some reason when I got to that part and then the others return to base camp to a pool of blood and a trashed site and THEY’RE NOT FREAKING OUT NEAR ENOUGH I was just like smh I can’t with you people. I think it was my curiosity that had kept me going at first and now with that pretty much resolved all that was left were characters I didn’t have time to care about, a weird sort of romantic thing between Mack and Ava (seriously, NOT the time like how can you even feel anything but freaked out okay sure you’re both dealing with past trauma and think the other person is comforting but you’re both also the only ones SUPER on edge about the competition from the start so like idk priorities lol. It just felt unnecessary if that makes sense and that it didn’t add anything to the story.), a creepy but predictable plot, and yeah my interest began dwindling quickly.
I didn’t really connect with any of the characters so I didn’t really care who died or who survived, the plot overall was pretty predictable (as horror stories tend to be, to be fair), and the best part, which was the creepy draw on my curiosity, was gone. I mean, I finished it just to see who did make it out alive and how they deal with this insane sacrifice nonsense, but I wasn’t as into it.
THE ENDING. Open-ended and only semi-resolved in a classic horror story way (’tis a trope requirement it seems). Contains a message for the audience to take away (beyond don’t make deals with devils lol) which the author sums up neatly on the very last page as a closing dedication:
To the youngest generations we’ve tasked with saving us all: You shouldn’t have to. I’m so sorry.Kiersten White, Hide
I think that the writing was solid, the premise intriguing, and White chooses an interesting message around which to craft her horror story, but as a non-horror fan it didn’t do it for me. I need to care about the characters and I crave a satisfying resolution, neither of which can be found often in either the horror genre or in real life, which is why I read to escape reality and I don’t choose to read horror haha. If you are a horror-thriller fan, however, you’ll probably binge the hell out of this so definitely go give it a look. I’m not saying it’s bad, it’s a top-notch horror genre story check-list, I’m just saying it wasn’t for me. Anyway…
Hide is a skin-chillingly creepy, yet familiar and somewhat predictable, twist on the childhood game of Hide-and-Seek that explores human desperation and the lengths to which they’ll go to alter their own sight, their own beliefs, their own clawing fears, all to “win” this very real and far less controllable “game” of life.
Meet Kiersten White!
Kiersten White is the New York Times bestselling author of many books for teens and young readers, including And I Darken, Now I Rise, Bright We Burn, The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein, and Slayer. She lives with her family near the ocean in San Diego, where she perpetually lurks in the shadows.