It’s likely that most of Kiersten White’s readers have known from the beginning just what she’s capable of. However, I don’t think any of us could have expected that she would churn out such a dark and gutting social commentary for her adult debut, and she would do it so well. Hide hit me like a punch in the gut. I was absolutely floored by the sheer magnitude of the story and the pace at which it unfolded, coupled with a writing style that I feel, as a reader, I have had the privilege to watch grow into what it is now. Kiersten White possesses a stunning grasp of her craft, and has yet again delivered a novel I’ll remember for the rest of my life.
“Not a monster at all, but the most pathetically human of men.” –Hide, Kiersten White
Hide is slightly deceiving when it presents to you a story about a horrific, sadistic hide-and- seek competition. While the book is about a group of fourteen young people offered a chance to win $50,000 in this strange competition run in the abandoned Amazement Park, the story that is told is much, much more than that. Soaked in suspense and teeming with an unshakable sense of dread, Hide is so much more than what it appears to be. When I first read the synopsis of this book, I was of course immediately hooked by its dark and enticing premise, but I didn’t expect to be reduced to a puddle of tears at midnight on a Saturday night when I finally finished it, clutching my overly-annotated copy with shaking hands.
Hide is a story with several strengths. The writing alone stands out as capable of carrying the story even if the characters and plot were lacking—which they are most certainly not—due to its sheer power. Kiersten White has always been a strong writer, but she has absolutely outdone herself with Hide. Told in clever metaphor, brilliantly unique syntax, and omniscient third person, Hide reads as very cinematic, the choice of tense presenting the readers with an advantage that the characters will never have. The reader gets to peek into each of our fourteen characters’ heads, the writing style serving as a powerful tool to wiggle even the most unassuming—or even evil—characters into your heart. To me, the true gut-punch of this story was the cleverly-masked social commentary that spoke directly to me. Even the acknowledgments section of this book had me in tears. Though it may not be for everyone, I have always had a soft spot for art that screams at the world. This book understands what it’s like to be young in this country, and paints a haunting picture of a new generation condemned to damnation by their predecessors.
Though at times the narrative shifts to show the absolute worst of humanity, the most monstrous—or pathetic?—of us all, you’d be mistaken to think that Hide wasn’t a story about hope. Without spoiling the plot, this book was heart-wrenchingly beautiful. Full of sorrow and pain, but also hope, the promise of forgiveness, of victory, of happiness. This book was everything I wanted and needed, and Mack, Brandon, Ava, and LeGrand will be with me forever. Even after writing this review, I still don’t think I can properly convey just how badly you need to read this book.