In Kiersten White’s bestselling HIDE, a group of fourteen contestants are brought to an abandoned amusement park to play a game of hide and seek for a big cash prize, only to find themselves playing the game for their lives. This had a fun premise, was very competently written, and has strong themes. I didn’t fall in love, but I enjoyed it.
The novel begins with Mack, an orphan who is the sole survivor of a horrific family tragedy. Guilt-ridden and with few prospects, she accepts a strange invitation to take part in a hide-and-seek competition hosted by a sporting goods company. Along with thirteen other contestants, she is taken to an abandoned amusement park. The rules: During the day, hide and don’t get found.
The writing is solid; White makes the pages fly by. The premise is great. Mack doesn’t have a lot of depth as a character, defined almost entirely by her tragedy and desire to disappear, but she’s likeable enough, and we get to know all the contestants more or less equally. There are themes criticizing capitalism that along with the premise are reminiscent of SQUID GAME.
There were a few aspects that kept me from falling in love. One is, well, hide and seek isn’t very exciting. Probably the biggest aspect was the mystery is fairly easy to unravel and ends up being at least partially explained early on. White does a great job tying together a lot of different parts to create a history of the town and park (there are a lot of moments where I said, “ah, so this or that makes sense”), but because the reader knows a lot of this stuff before the characters do, it robs quite a bit of tension; I was engaged with the characters but not always the plot.
Overall, HIDE is simple fun like hide and seek itself, a light summer horror read elevated by some punchy social themes.