Book Review – ‘Survive the Night’ by Danielle Vega

A surprising read of rock chick goodness and terror in abandoned railway tunnels!

Survive the Night Book Review Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle.jpgGenre: Y/A, Horror

No. of pages: 263

From Goodreads:

We’re all gonna die down here…

Julie lies dead and disemboweled in a dank, black subway tunnel, red-eyed rats nibbling at her fingers. Her friends think she’s just off with some guy—no one could hear her getting torn apart over the sound of pulsing music.

In a tunnel nearby, Casey regrets coming to Survive the Night, the all-night underground rave in the New York City subway. Her best friend Shana talked her into it, even though Casey just got out of rehab. Alone and lost in the dark, creepy tunnels, Casey doesn’t think Survive the Night could get any worse…

…until she comes across Julie’s body, and the party turns deadly.

 Desperate for help, Casey and her friends find themselves running through the putrid subway system, searching for a way out. But every manhole is sealed shut, and every noise echoes eerily in the dark, reminding them they’re not alone.

They’re being hunted.  

Page border by Casey Carlisle

Survive the Night’ is like a teen horror flick – a gathering of rebellious youths track down an underground rave, get isolated and then picked off one by one. It’s a campy, scary, short book (fast read) and I felt like the story was only half way through when it ended… because I wanted more.

This girl was impressed with the cast of characters – nobody was perfect, and each had their own story to tell. A great way to draw the reader into the book!

Survive the Night Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle.jpgCasey (our protagonist and the novel is told through her point of view) is recovering addict who is slowly coming to terms with her illness and is taking responsibility for her condition and rectifying her life. It was nice to see how Casey’s perceptions, on and off drugs, shows an unreliable narrator at times. It added to the suspense and tension. I’d be dropping a load in my underwear if caught in abandoned underground tunnels with something hunting us in the dark.

The rest of her friends joining her for the adventure: Sam, the typical gorgeous lead singer type, has a great character arc well worth the read. Shana, the annoying druggy (passive aggressive) mean girl you love to hate. She had the most interesting personal journey of all.

And then we have Aya, the innocent (of sorts); Woody, the grungy musician; and Julie, the boy loving victim that sets off the chain of events… It has been a very long while since I’ve read such a diverse cast of personalities that felt so organic in the narrative. For this alone I highly recommend you give this book a go.

I liked how there were urban legends around previous disappearances in the tunnels that this group find the rave in after an extensive egg-hunt. The ‘big bad’ reveal was fun (a bit silly) but still scary and monstrous. I was shuddering and pulling my legs up onto the couch in several places – a sign of a well written book. There are only a few authors who have forced a physical fear response from me when reading.

Survive the Night’ is predictable on the most part as far as plot goes – who survives and who doesn’t – my initial thoughts were proven right; but I was thrown towards the end and changed my mind. Vega’s narrative lead me to a different conclusion, and then snatched it away. Loved that she had me questioning myself.

Such a fun exhilarating read. Vega’s writing style is punchy, cool and full of pop culture as you would expect from a YA horror. I would have rated it higher if there was more complexity in the story and less predictability.

Can I mention the cover art! I bought the hard cover and was struck by the design, bright colours, mixed with a skull covered in glitter- it so sums up the tone of the novel. Love the tactile feel of it too! A blurb on the back quotes “Page-to-page Stephen King style terror” and I’d have to agree.

I was a little confused at some of the low ratings I’ve seen this book get – it’s nothing other than what it states to be. A strong favourite for me.

Overall feeling: this gif of a baby sums up my reading experience…


Survive the Night Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle.jpg

Critique Casey by Casey Carlisle


© Casey Carlisle 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

I don’t do impressions anymore.

I don't do impressions any more by Casey Carlisle

I was the class clown growing up.

Many of my friends can attest to how I was frequently flailing, pulling faces and mimicking actors or cartoon characters. So many tipsy nights with mates, rolling about on the couch after my Scooby-Doo impression or a re-enactment, (when you’re built like a stick figure any movement invariably looks awkward and funny). But now, a serious adult, I’ve had to stop childish ways to be a role model for teaching, and to be taken seriously for my writing.

Well… who am I kidding? I still laugh at fart jokes, am frequently in hysterics over my uncoordinated puppies, and have the occasional juvenile prankster moment.

I know my flatmate is relieved I don’t get up to my old tricks. I can still remember deciding it would be a fantastic idea to scare my Grandmother when I was twelve years old. She was sitting at the dining room table, quietly sipping on a cup of tea and playing Patience like any respectable English woman.

I’d tied my hair up in rubber bands so it spiked out from my scalp in many different angles, practiced my crazy face in the mirror, and was currently crawling along the floor, marveling at my plan. It has going to be hilarious. Grandma would get a fright and then proclaim I was the funniest child in all the land!

Just as I got behind the kitchen bench with my target enjoying her afternoon respite, ready to pounce forth and roar “Surprise” my plan fell to pieces.

I hadn’t accounted for the family cat.

Said feline sat upon the kitchen bench, watching my approach. Now I don’t know what I had done to offend poor pus, but just as I had reached my hiding spot she began to hiss and arch her back.

Grandma, seeing the feline’s distress, hopped up to calm its nerves… and found me hunched behind the counter, giggling silently to myself, with hair like a space alien.

“SURprriisseee….”  I stood up, the wind taken from my sails in response to a polite ‘Oh’ at my discovery.

Foiled again! Dastardly cat!

After that episode, jumping out to scare people didn’t feel quiet as much fun, and I transitioned to more sophisticated jokes, like whoopee cushions and prank phone calls.

Casey's Childhood Banner by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

It’s serious work, bruising your bum… by Casey Carlisle

I can hear a ringtail possum… oh no, it’s Casey falling down.


For those who know a little about Melbourne’s Maribyrnong River, you’ll know that the name comes from the Aboriginal saying ‘mirring-gnay-bir-nong’ translated as ‘I can hear a ringtail possum.’ Part of this beautiful estuary lies right at my back door. I walk my dogs along it of an afternoon; sit in the park beside its banks for picnics and the occasional break from the office to write in a creative-inspirational surround.

I’ve been involved in marine research in the past (you can read some stories in my previous blogs), however recently that habit has fallen by the wayside. Lacking the connections I had in Townville, Darwin or Perth; and I certainly don’t have the expendable time I used to having spent long weekends away on a fishing trawler or research vessel. But I do desperately miss the scent of salt air and marine adventures.

Then one afternoon, with three fur-babies dragging me along a path next to the Maribyrnong River, I almost smacked my forehead with a realisation. There’s got to be a way I could get involved right here. I mean it’s not more than twenty paces from my front door! And so I jumped on the computer once I got home and shot off a few emails… and was rewarded by getting in contact with Andrew, currently completing his Honors degree – and yes, he needed help collecting data for his research.


Map complements of Melbourne Water

I met with Andrew two months ago to volunteer as a Research Assistant (along with five others), to identify and record numbers of species, measure water temperature, dissolved oxygen, salinity, pH levels, nutrients, faecal  contamination and metals in the waterway. The small group of recruits met every Sunday to survey a football field sized area, ending the day in a barbeque and a glass of beer or bubbly. Little did I know that this was not only the beginning of a great time with some hilarious people, but the birth of the “Butt-plant Betting Pool.” Only because I had the displeasure on our first outing to trip and fall … twice… and then again the following weekend.

ImageAlong with discovering that there are ten species of native fish and four species of exotic fish in the area nearest to my house, of 70% sampled was dominated by the Eastern Gambusia.

In the summer months you can find gentlemen fishing off the banks and pontoons for Bream and Jewfish; one of which was witness to my slip, landing on the hard edge of the warf. I sported a grapefruit sized bruise for two weeks. It must have looked so glamorous as I toppled over, flailing my arms and legs Kermit-the-frog-style. But the elderly gentleman respectfully never cracked a smile in amusement. Anonymous fisherman – I humbly thank you!

ImageI can’t say the same for Dan, another volunteer, whereupon watching me slide on some treacherous mud, like Bambi on ice, only to land in fully seated position in the warm brown silt. I just loved spending the afternoon looking like I had sharted. But I got to hold an Eastern Long-necked Turtle and Pobblebonk (Southern Bullfrog) and managed to catch and release a Short-finned Eel.

My next fall from grace was helped along by a comedic friend (Dan) when he brandished a Freshwater Shrimp (Atyidae) in my face – it was primary school all over again. Happily, karma justified my retaliation later that day when he managed to stir an ants nest; I only wish I had my phone on to capture his awkward slapping dance.

There is a lot of redevelopment going on around my suburb, and more catchment areas with ponds in parkland are sprouting up along the riverbank. It’s wonderful to see what will now grow into beautiful little nature reserves. A bountiful number of birds, bats and land mammals can be enjoyed if you chose to peruse along the walkways and jetties. A great deal of history is waiting to be uncovered, with Aboriginal artefacts, mounds and sacred trees along Maribyrnong River’s meandering path to the ocean. Additionally, you can also find the occasional Heritage registered site.

And for those of you who are interested, the “Butt-plant betting pool” ended at 6 falls for 8 weekends, netting Ashley a cool fifty bucks (which she is splitting with me).

So the next time I’m kicking back under a tree, or on a park bench to do some writing by the river, I have a much more intimate knowledge of what lurks beneath it’s waters and hides in the banks. Although I wasn’t swimming with sea turtles or diving on a reef, I certainly got to get my feet wet (and the seat of my pants).

*For information on Andrew’s Honors Thesis, findings are set to be published in a Journal after his graduation. I will post a link for interested parties upon its publication.


© Casey Carlisle 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.