Publisher: Penguin Random House Audio (Audiobook – 24 May 2022)
Series: Standalone/Book One
Length: 8 hours and 9 minutes
My Rating: 3.75 out of 5 stars
Get ready to run and scurry for cover in the intriguing new horror thriller from Kiersten White, Hide. Kiersten White is a captivating author who is known for her young adult and tie-in fiction novels. I best know her for her work on the extended universe of franchises like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, where she recently wrote a series of novels about a new Slayer, which started with the 2019 release Slayer. White is also making some waves this year with the new Star Wars young adult novel, Padawan, which follows a young Obi-Wan Kenobi and which is pretty high up on my to-read list. However, her 2022 release that intrigued me the most was the thriller release, Hide. Hide had a great concept to it and I couldn’t resist checking it out in the last week to see what it was all about.
Mack is good at hiding. She’s spent her whole life doing it after it worked so well to save her life as a child while her family died around her. However, after years of avoiding people, Mack is running out of options and money. So when a strange challenge arises, Mack has no choice but to accept, even if it brings back terrible nightmares from her past.
A mysterious corporation is sponsoring a new and unique reality competition with a prize of $50,000 to the winner. The challenge is simple: survive a week hiding in a creepy abandoned amusement park and don’t get found. The last person left hidden is crowned the winner and gets enough money to change everything.
Competing against a group of similarly desperate and determined young people, each of whom is hoping that this game will turn their life around, Mack thinks the odds are in her favour to win. However, there is something far more sinister going on than any of the contestants know. As the people around her start disappearing, one by one, Mack and the rest of the competitors begin to realise that something else is in the park with them, something that is hungry and unrelenting. Come out, come out, wherever you are.
This was an intriguing and fun book from White that I managed to get through in a few days. I loved the excellent premise behind Hide and I think that the author produced a pretty good story that appeals to both horror and thriller fans. While the book has a slightly slow start to it, once the competition starts I found myself getting pretty into it as I was very keen to see what happened. White ratchets up the tension day by day as the competition continues, and I think that the increased level of threat and uncertainty that occurred helped to keep my attention and make me want to figure out what is going on. There are some interesting revelations about halfway through the book that I thought were pretty clever, especially the reveal about what exactly is chasing them and why. Once that happens, it’s a pretty high-octane fight for survival that results in some fantastic and compelling moments. While there were still a few questions left over by the end of the book, I think White ended Hide pretty well and everything came together in interesting way. I do wish that there the competition was a bigger part of the plot, as that could have been pretty cool, but I guess you can’t have everything.
White utilised an interesting storyline telling method to get Hide’s narrative across, which worked for the most part but had a few issues. While the story is primarily focused around Mack, the book does quickly jump between the other characters in the book, giving some brief insights into their thoughts and history. While this worked to keep you in the loop about every contestant, it was a bit random at times and I felt that it impacted the pacing of the story, especially when it jumped between multiple perspectives in a very short amount of time. I also felt that the use of jumps resulted in some missing details in places, such as when some characters are removed from the contest without you realising it. I did think that White did a good job inserting the background lore behind the events of the book into the story through a series of journal entries, and that part of the book was quite fascinating, although I wouldn’t have minded a bit of a deeper dive. There is also quite a bit of social commentary chucked into the mix as well, especially when it comes to exploring the motives of the unsurprising villains, plus you must appreciate the strong LGBT+ elements thrown in as well. The story itself had a mostly fine flow to it, and you do feel the fear and terror of the contestants once they realise what is going on. All of this worked pretty well in the end, and I think that the story came across in a pretty accessible and compelling way.
White focuses the story on an interest group of protagonists, each of whom has their own reason to be there. Due to the way that the narrative jumps around to examine different characters, you get a decent look into the heads of each of the competitors, as well as some other characters, and you soon get some insights into why each of them is there. It soon becomes apparent that each contestant is pretty desperate and broken in their own way, which I felt added to the drama and intensity of the story. However, due to the quick-fire change in perspective, the reader isn’t given a lot of time to bond with most of the characters, and their eventual fates aren’t too shocking or moving as a result. The main exception to this is Mack, who you do spend quite a lot of time with. Mack has a very tragic backstory (it reminded me of last year’s book, The Final Girls Support Group by Grady Hendrix), which becomes a major part of her motivations and trauma in Hide. Watching her attempt to overcome her dark past and her reservations for being there is pretty intense, and there was some interesting character work there, as well as a potential for new friendships and romance. A couple of other characters who survive towards the end of the book (I won’t mention who) are also developed to a decent degree, and I felt that some of the story arcs around them were pretty intense as well. It was a little obvious which of them was going to survive and who was going to die, even with a few twists thrown in, although I did appreciate a few surprise changes in motivations that worked really well. An overall interesting group of characters, I do wish that we could have gotten to know a few of them a little better though.
I ended up listening to Hide on audiobook, which worked as an excellent format to enjoy this interesting horror read. Hide has a pretty short runtime of just over eight hours, so if you get caught in the story you can get through it rather quickly. I felt that this format did help to emphasise the tension and the rising panic of the protagonists, especially as narrator Emma Galvin does a good job telling the story. Galvin had an excellent voice that was pretty fitting to this setting and story genre, and she ended up doing a good job personifying the main characters. I rather enjoyed the tone and intensity that Galvin brought to this audiobook, and I felt that this was a fantastic format to check out Hide on.
Overall, I had a lot of fun with Hide and Kiersten White came up with a great story that I really enjoyed. While I do think that there were a few missed opportunities and pacing issues in places, this mostly came together pretty well and I think fans of exciting novels with horror elements to it will have a great time with Hide. An interesting book that is worth checking out.