Eyes Wide Open
Seventeen-year-old Christy Snow just wanted to find her missing locket, which still holds its original photo of two strangers. She hopes someday it will hold the smiling faces of people she loves, but since everything prior to age 13 is a blank, she has no such photo. Living on her own after four years at an orphanage, Christy aches to recover her missing years. But for today, she’d just be happy to recover the locket. She retraces her steps to the abandoned storage room of an old hospital, which she’d visited with her friend, Austin Hartt, the previous day. In her attempt to retrieve it from behind a coffin, she winds up falling through a trapdoor, which leads us to the intriguing opening line of EYES WIDE OPEN:
My name is Christy Snow. I'm seventeen and I'm about to die. I'm buried in a coffin under tons of concrete. No one knows where I am. My heart sounds like a monster with clobber feet, running straight toward me. I'm lying on my back, soaked with sweat from the hair on my head to the soles of my feet. My hands and feet won't stop shaking. Some will say that I'm not really here. Some will say I'm delusional. Some will say that I don't even exist. But who are they? I'm the one buried in a grave. My name is Christy Snow. I'm seventeen and I'm about to die.
"Dekker combines creepiness, action, excellent storytelling and a thought-provoking thematic premise to weave an unusual tale chock full of twists and turns."
Spoiler alert: Christy doesn’t die, because that would make for an incredibly short novel. She sends Austin half a text before her cell dies, then breaks free from her confines, only to find herself in the hospital’s psych ward. Her clothes torn and filthy, Christy slips into a hospital garment before going further into the ward. When the authorities see her in-patient clothing, without any identification, they assume she’s the girl who was admitted that morning and ran away. Her lack of family and memory only serve to convince them further that she is, without question, the missing patient. And so begins a nightmare of unconventional psychological treatments for Christy --- treatments that will have her mired in hallucinations and questioning what is real and what is delusion.
Austin and Christy met at the orphanage, both suffering from amnesia that erased their entire childhoods. Like Christy, Austin lives on his own and has a trust fund from an anonymous benefactor. With a genius level brain and more thoughts than his head can hold, Austin has read thousands of books and completed courses at MIT and Harvard. But now his overloaded brain is racked by excruciating headaches, and he fears a brain tumor. Just before meeting with his doctor, he receives Christy’s text and knows just where to look. But when Austin follows her tracks to the old hospital storage room, he is led to the same psych ward in which Christy now resides. Through a series of circumstances, Austin is given another identity and admitted as a patient, just like his missing friend. The “treatments” that follow leave him wondering what is true and whether or not he even exists. Author Ted Dekker’s clever storytelling techniques leave readers asking the same questions.
I won’t say whether the two friends escape the psych ward or cross the line from delusion to reality, because that truly would be a spoiler. I will say that you are likely to keep reading past bedtime to find out. Dekker combines creepiness, action, excellent storytelling and a thought-provoking thematic premise to weave an unusual tale chock full of twists and turns. And though his ending provides answers, it also leaves plenty of room for a sequel.
What I liked: The fast paced, edge-of-your-seat style and intensity, as well as the symbolism and great storytelling technique.
What I didn’t like: A bit too much implausibility for my taste, especially the explanation of their amnesia, which comes at the end.
Reviewed by Susan Miura on January 23, 2014