Title: The Woods Are Always Watching
Author: Stephanie Perkins
Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers
Release Date: August 31st, 2021
Page Length: 240
Age Range: YA
New from bestselling author Stephanie Perkins, and the perfect companion to her New York Times bestseller There’s Someone Inside Your House, soon to be a Netflix feature.
Bears aren’t the only predators in these woods.
Best friends Neena and Josie spent high school as outsiders, but at least they had each other. Now, with college and a two-thousand-mile separation looming on the horizon, they have one last chance to be together—a three-day hike deep into the woods of the Pisgah National Forest.
Simmering tensions lead to a detour off the trail and straight into a waking nightmare … and then into something far worse. Something that will test them in horrifying ways.
Stephanie Perkins, the bestselling author of There’s Someone Inside Your House, returns with a heart-stopping, gut-wrenching novel about friendship, survival, and navigating unmarked paths even as evil watches from the shadows.
Thanks to Edelweiss and Dutton Books for Young Readers for providing me with an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
I still haven’t read Perkins’ other horror, There’s Someone Inside Your House, but after reading the synopsis of this one, I knew I had to read it. I ended up reading this really early at my friend Melanie over at TBR and Beyond. I’m really glad I had her to talk about this book because I had thoughts lol.
First off, the characters! OMG did I ever hate the characters. I felt they were naïve and doing fairly stupid things – despite supposedly being smart. They whined and bickered basically the entire trip. There were many, many, many points where I wanted to push the two main characters off of the cliff (while admiring the gorgeous view). They felt like the worst people and I had no idea how they had managed to stay friends for that long. However, at that glorious halfway point my opinion of them changed and I was suddenly rooting for them.
The atmosphere in this book was amazing! Once it becomes dark, everything become ultra spooky! Perkins’ did an amazing job at making the reader feel entirely lost and isolated (even during the daylight). The description of the park was amazing, I wanted to visit. I was also surprised by how gruesome Perkins’ descriptions were with the gore potion of the book. I think that really added to the overall atmosphere and tension of the book.
I will admit the first half of the book was a real slog! I hate the main characters and it was just a hike in the woods (beautifully described, but I came here for horror!). But once I hit that halfway point (almost 50% exactly), I couldn’t put the book down! I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough! That ending too was worth everything in the end and I’m so glad that was the direction that Perkins went.
I don’t think I will ever understand why the two main characters went camping by themselves when they were so inexperienced, but in the end I’m glad they did because it made for an entertaining ride in the end. I highly recommend for anyone who enjoys the all out horror with gore and surprises, but you need to be willing to put up with the annoying characters (but trust me it’s worth it). I would highly recommend binging this during a dark (possibly raining), windy, fall night!