Sep 9, 2021

Review--The Woods Are Always Watching by Stephanie Perkins


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.


Having loved Stephanie Perkins' first thriller mystery, I was eager to read her next one, The Woods Are Always Watching. While there is definitely an edge of danger and suspense, I found this one not as enjoyable as its predecessor. It was still terrifying and horrifying, it just took longer to get to those moments and since this was a shorter book than usual, that meant half the book read of normalcy.

Best friends, Neena and Josie decide to go on a little camping trip before they set off for college. They are going their separate ways and want to have a few last days to be together as they were close friends for most of their high school years. Except, things don't start off very well. Neither one has been what you would call outdoorsy or experienced in the wild, but they know enough to get by. Sadly, their trip starts off with more than one argument and it's not long before they are hardly speaking to one another.

It was a little sad to be honest, to see these two girls who are best friends start to drift further and further apart. The story is told in third person point of view. Not in the sense that we get both of the girls' perspectives every other chapter, that would be easier. Instead what we get is sort of the mishmash third person point of view. It's almost list you can see the camera dart back and forth when it's clear one girl is having a thought or feeling. It did make for some complicated reading at times.

Then finally, at the halfway point, things start to get creepy and terrifying! The girls learn they are not truly alone in the woods, true other campers come and go, but they only saw a couple on their first day and they went in the opposite direction. It becomes clear that there is someone in the woods and they appear to be hunting the girls!

Naturally, my mind went to an old episode of Supernatural where that very thing happened! Josie and Neena are no Sam and Dean, but they are still forces on their own. The perils that the girls got into in such a short amount of pages was terrifying. You're eager to see what will happen next but also scared that not everyone will make it out unscathed.

The ending was both satisfying and yet, not. While things are mostly wrapped up, there's a bit of aftermath that we don't get to see resolved and it nagged at me. I could make my own guesses as to what the outcomes would've been had they been said, but you never truly know, do you? Perhaps, this is what Stephanie intended as well. There's a bit of guessing at the end done by those left standing that question the very same thing. I guess that itself makes it a terrifying ending as well.

If you're looking for a chilling thriller this spooky season, The Woods Are Always Watching is a good pick. Be forewarned that though the pages may be short, half the book is setting up the story for its more scarier events. While I wasn't overly fond of this one, I would still read another thriller from Stephanie should she decide to write one.

Overall Rating 3.5/5 stars

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