I loved the idea behind The Purgatorium. It is a fast paced YA novel that mixes adventure, horror and romance. It involves kids sent to a resort like island that is part nature reserve and part historical ruin, and something else entirely. One of the characters (the main) is a very troubled girl. All of these points hint at a really great read. So when I received the novel in exchange for a review, I was eager to get started with it.
In the story, the main character Daphne
Janus and her best friend Cam travel to an island resort that is clearly not
what it appears to be. Strange things happen almost from the moment
Daphne arrives on the island. First Daphne witnesses a possible crime
and then is terrorized by people dressed as ghosts. Many unusual and
even dangerous events follow. Daphne begins to wonder about what is
really going on at the island and makes arrangements to leave, but her
attempts to leave are foiled. Worse, she begins to wonder if she can
truly trust her best friend. As the reader moves through the story, it
is revealed that Daphne has experienced a family tragedy. She blames
herself for the tragedy and has not been able to cope for some time. The
real reason Daphne is on the island is not for a resort holiday but for
extreme therapy (experimental therapy). But is the extreme therapy going to be effective or is
it dangerous enough to get her or others killed?
The best parts
of the novel, I thought, were the descriptive paragraphs that gave the
reader an excellent view of the island. Also, the plot kept moving and
the main character was busy enough to not dwell too much on a few
emotions that could slow the story down. Although the character does
return again and again to her guilt and the reason she is on the island.
I would have preferred that the author give the Daphne character more
details from her life, and more detailed interactions with the other
characters to build character depth, rather than just the replay of
Although I really liked the idea behind the story, there
were a few things that completely held me up at places. A strong feeling
that the story was a kind of... what would happen if the Hotel
California was made into a YA novel - was one of those things. I can't
help it. It just really made me think of that old song even though the
island was more of a treatment centre than an asylum. (The story just had that *patient is trapped and surrounded by dangerous possibly crazy people feel*). That feel also kind of spread out into the plot. The plot jumped around quite a bit and took the reader in a few very different and unexpected directions. It's almost impossible to explain without giving away too much of the story.
The other hold back point was the love
interest angle. It was problematic for me. It's a YA novel with romance, so
it's not unusual for the main character to have at least three guys
interested in her. However, two of those guys (one being her ex
boyfriend) seemed to be too old for her (yuck) - although I admit that I
was a little confused about what her age was supposed to be (17) and
exactly how long after the family tragedy this therapy was taking place
(2 years) when I was reading the story. It made me think of those
reverse harem animes that don't make sense (and have those too old guys
interested in too young girls). I know that some high school girls date college
age guys, but given the main character's circumstance, it just felt
creepy. Other readers might not see it that way.
Overall though, I
really did like the idea behind the novel and I think that the story
moves quickly enough that the series has potential. Oh, and the title is awesome.