Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Cellar by AJ Whitten

The Cellar
AJ Whitten
Houghton-Mifflin Publishers
YA Horror/Fantasy
Publication date:  May 2, 2011
Grade:  B-
Meredith Willis is suspicious of Adrien, the new guy next door. When she dares to sneak a look into the windows of his house, she sees something in the cellar that makes her believe that Adrien might be more than just a creep—he may be an actual monster.
But her sister, Heather, doesn’t share Meredith’s repulsion. Heather believes Adrien is the only guy who really understands her. In fact, she may be falling in love with him. When Adrien and Heather are cast as the leads in the school production of Romeo and Juliet, to Heather, it feels like fate. To Meredith, it feels like a bad omen. But if she tries to tear the couple apart, she could end up in the last place she’d ever want to be: the cellar. Can Meredith convince her sister that she’s dating the living dead before it’s too late for both of them?  (description from publisher via Netgalley)

My Review
I am having a difficult time reviewing this book.  Not because the book is bad, but because this is definitely not a book for everyone.  Who is this book for?  It is not for the faint of heart or the weak of stomach, that much is for certain!
I wasn’t sure that I was going to finish this book.  The story was actually rather engaging, in an unusual sort of way.  I had many moments of disbelief as I was reading.  However, what stopped me many times and made me question my ability to finish the book was the “gore factor”.  This book had some really creepy parts that were very gore-filled and truly horrible.  This is most definitely a horror book.  I would say that if you like scary books and you love slasher films, this book might appeal to you.
The story was quite original and I really enjoyed its development.  It was interesting to note the Romeo and Juliet parallels of the story.  I really felt sympathetic toward Heather and the whole issue with the father having been killed and the absentee mother.  At first, I was intrigued by Adrien and I really wanted to like him.  I actually thought more of him at the end of the book, but I had a hard time getting past the fact that he was truly a monster.
The character that stole the show for me was Sam.  I LOVED Sam!  I’m not sure how Heather ever gave him up, but I was happy for Meredith that she did.  I wish that I had been able to see more of Sam in the novel, but of course, the story wasn’t about him.
I suppose that in the end, I found that I had actually enjoyed the book, and I had a difficult time putting it down in the last part.  The story was good and the characters were likeable, but this is probably not a book for everyone.  This book doesn’t “pretty up” the monsters.  They are still monsters and there is killing and gore to prove it.  So, if you decide to give this book a try, be forewarned!  And don’t read on a full stomach!
I gave this book a B- because the story is interesting, the characters are engaging, but the book should probably come with a warning label:  “Caution:  Do not attempt to read this book if you are easily grossed out.  No food should be consumed while reading.”

Thank you to netgalley and Houghton Mifflin for the opportunity to read and review this book.


  1. Thanks for the review! I just got this one off of NetGalley but hadn't started it yet. I was hoping it wouldn't be too gross/gory (it's YA!) but it sounds like maybe it is. I'm kind of easily grossed out so now I'm curious about how gory it is. Are there any books you would say are similar?

  2. There were chapters that described the two zombies actually tearing strips of flesh off of someone who was still alive and eating them.....it was quite disgusting!! I don't read a lot of straight up horror for that reason, so I have to say that I have never read anything comparable to this one. The worst I've read is Anne Rice and she doesn't come anywhere close to this gore!

    If you're looking for a good zombie book, I just finished Die for Me and I'm about to post my review of that.....it's an amazing book!