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.
The story opens with the reader meeting 17 year old Christy, who says she's been buried alive. Dekker forces the reader to sit through a few pages of squirm-inducing anxiety and a sense of Christy's claustrophobia before Christy starts to explain what led her to this terrifying reality she's now experiencing. Christy explains that it all started with a simple heart locket. She and her friend Austin -- you'll get to know him better in Hacker (Outlaw Chronicles #3) -- are exploring a somewhat abandoned storage section of a local hospital, the section that just happens to be attached to the hospital's psych ward. During this little excursion, Christy loses her locket but doesn't realize it till she gets back home. She decides to go try to track it down the next day. She finds the locket but in the process of trying to pick it up falls through a trap door in the storage area, dropping her into a room she can't seem to find a way out of, so she uses the little bit of battery life left on her cellphone to call Austin for help, only able to leave a message. When she does manage to find an exit, it leads her straight into the psych ward. When Austin gets her message and tries to come find her, he too is led into the psych ward area and they are both quickly & mistakenly admitted as patients. While trapped in this hospital, Austin and Christy meet Alice Ringwald, who gets her own story in Water Walker (Outlaw Chronicles #2).
As you might expect, Dekker also gives this place Fort Knox level security measures, so the reader becomes just as anxious as the characters for them to find a way out. The longer they're in, the more Christy starts to believe the things the doctors are telling her about herself, leading her to lose her grip on reality more and more. Christy's story hit a little close to home for me, as I read about her struggles with weight, body image and emotional abuse. And WOW. The urge I had to punch Dr. Lawson for the things he said to her! It wasn't just with her either , he just becomes an increasingly disgusting character as the story progresses. The way that Dekker has the reader experience Christy's inner turmoil makes for a strong, beautiful and truly satisfying sensation when you see her find and embrace her inner strength and uniqueness, using that to battle her naysayers, quieting their acidic verbal barrages.
Having now read all three of the Outlaw Chronicle books -- not sure if there will be more, but some of what I read in these stories led me to believe there could easily be more to the series -- I can say that each book got progressively better for me, which is the way you want a series to be! I also liked that there was an underlying message to each story that Dekker leaves you to think about and be inspired by.
The message in Eyes Wide Open? I'd say it was something to the effect of learning to get out of your own mind sometimes, learning to turn away from those mind demons we all have, that side of each of us that self-berates and lives for sabotaging all our dreams, goals and pockets of happiness. Yeah, tell those self-worth attacking mind demons to STFU. And anyone else outside of your own mind who similarly tries to keep you down. Be humble, be grateful, but also be confident that you are here for a reason and have something worthwhile to offer this world. Live the way that feels true to your own soul, not the way someone else wants you to be so they'll be more comfortable with you. I think that's the message here. And a good one it is!
FTC Disclaimer: Worthy Publishing kindly provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. The opinions above are entirely my own.