Review: The Murmurings

I received this book for free from YA Books Central in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The MurmuringsThe Murmurings by Carly Anne West
Published by Simon Pulse on March 5, 2013
Genres: Mystery, Paranormal, Romance
Pages: 384
Format: ARC
Source: YA Books Central
Goodreads
two-half-stars

Everyone thinks Sophie’s sister, Nell, went crazy. After all, she heard strange voices that drove her to commit suicide. But Sophie doesn’t believe that Nell would take her own life, and she’s convinced that Nell’s doctor knows more than he’s letting on.

As Sophie starts to piece together Nell’s last days, every lead ends in a web of lies. And the deeper Sophie digs, the more danger she’s in—because now she’s hearing the same haunting whispers. Sophie’s starting to think she’s going crazy too. Or worse, that maybe she’s not….

First Sentence: “I’m supposed to wonder why Gregor Samsa is a cockroach.”

Review:
It’s pretty safe to say from the reviews that have already come out and from what my own expectations were that The Murmurings is not the book most readers will be expecting. The cover and the blurb suggest and incredibly eerie, horror-filled read, but that really isn’t how West’s debut is. In fact, The Murmurings is largely a slower-paced contemporary on the nature of insanity, with a bit of horror and paranormal towards the end.

The best part of The Murmurings is the writing. West achieves a sort of distance in Sophie’s narration that perfectly suits her mental state and desire to keep herself apart from everyone. Below that frosty surface, you also get a sense of how open Sophie probably used to be. Both the contemplative and faster-paced scenes during the climax scenes are well-handled.

The concept of the murmurings creeps me out for sure. Sophie’s sister Nell was put into a mental institution because she heard voices and saw weird things in the mirror. Nell ended up escaping with one of the orderlies, but then is found dead in a nearby town, hanging upside down. Sophie has started hearing the murmurs too, and Dr. Keller of Oakside, the mental hospital, keeps calling to talk to Sophie’s mom. West sets up a seriously creepy concept and makes you curious to find out what’s going on at Oakside.

The mental hospital has a sort of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest Vibe. The workers are all horribly creepy and rude, obviously uninterested in the rehabilitation of the patients. They give out drugs to make the patients pliable and run painful experiments. It’s like only Nurse Ratched works at this place. Other than the fact that it seems to be really easy for patients to sneak out of their rooms, the mental hospital was sufficiently creepy and upsetting.

Sadly, I feel like the paranormal elements could have been a bit better-explained. I’m still not entirely certain what was going on, especially why victims ended up hanging upside down in impossible positions. Creepy? Most definitely. However, it leaves me with a lot of questions. Of course, I suppose all of it could be in Sophie’s mind as she sits, drugged, in the mental hospital…

If you’re looking for a gruesome, terrifying, fast-paced read, you might want to look elsewhere, but, if you like atmospheric novels and can deal with a slower pace, I would recommend The Murmurings.

Favorite Quote:

He said there’s a chance.
I say, What’s the point?
He points to me.

15 responses to “Review: The Murmurings”

  1. Faye M. says:

    I agree on the Paranormal elements. Actually, I was hoping there were no Paranormal elements at all. It felt as it it really went against the book’s contemporary vibes that filled, like, what, 60% of the book? Maybe I’d have appreciated it better if there were plausible explanations…

    Awesome review as usual 🙂

    • Christina says:

      Yeah, I’m generally not a fan when a book makes a sudden turn like this. I like the book to show it’s stripes right off, because you often get comfortable with what it was doing, and the change generally makes things worse.

  2. I think I still want to read this one. I think knowing before going into it that all the paranormal is toward the end, that I won’t be taken by surprise.

    Great review!

  3. Love that first sentence. It really got me intrigued. 😀 I love to read books with mental hospital setting, I don’t know but I guess I love all the quirky and crazy characters we get to meet that way.
    But I hate it when paranormal elements are left unexplained. My OCD hates loose ends. LOL. I think I am going to skip it for now.

    • Christina says:

      There are definitely some loose ends. It was interesting, but I mostly just feel like it could have been so much more. :/

    • I hate it when they do that – in books and movies. Especially since my husband always to my outrage shrugs and say: “They don’t have to explain everything. Use your imagination.” How should I know what they meant? I’m not a mind reader. :/
      And it’s always so sad when you read a book that could have been so much more… Well, at least you saved me from frustration. 🙂

    • Christina says:

      I mean, there are points where suspension of disbelief and imagination are needed, and there are times where the storyteller hasn’t done the work. It’s a question of whether it feels like the story has internal logic or not. I’m not convinced this does.

      For example, LOST. They didn’t know what was going on, so they never explained it and wrote a cop-out ending. NOT COOL.

    • Yes, I just finished watching Lost because friend convinced me that it was all resolved in the end. I was so disappointed – just like you said major cop-out.
      Almost like Stephen King and his Dark Tower series. For 7 books they travel to reach that tower (which is the center of everything blah blah blah) and then in the end – major let down. I love that series but the ending annoys me whenever I remember how Stephen King chicken out in the end…

  4. Kayla Beck says:

    *sigh* I’m so glad that you reviewed this. I think this is coming off of my TBR now. 🙁

  5. fakesteph says:

    I’ve been part way through this one for a while and it definitely was not what I was expecting.

  6. Renae M. says:

    It’s a definite shame that this didn’t turn out to be what everyone was expecting. I think that maybe, now that I know what I’ll be in for, I can read this and still enjoy it. Weird mental hospital with, distant narrator, slow pace—all things I’m prone to enjoy.

  7. Aww, I was looking forward to the more creepier elements, which is a surprise for me since I scare easily. I still might check this one out whenever I start reading ebooks. >.<

  8. I had such a great feeling about this one, but I truly did expect it to be creepy. Unfortunately, based on the reviews I’ve read (including yours) I might have to alter my expectations a little bit, but I think I’ll still read it, of only for the beautiful writing.
    Lovely review, Christina!

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