Mad World: Book One, Wakefield

★ ★ ★ ★ ★ "I absolutely loved this book. Loved it." – Goodreads reviewer

Orphans Astrid Chalke and Max Fisher meet when they’re sent to live at Wakefield, a residential and educational facility for teens with psychiatric and behavioral problems. Astrid’s roommate cuts herself with anything sharp she can get her hands on and Max’s roommate threatens him upon introduction.

Just as Astrid and Max develop a strong bond and begin to adjust to the constant chaos surrounding them, a charming and mysterious resident of Wakefield named Teddy claims he has unexplainable abilities. Sometimes he can move things without touching them. Sometimes he can see people’s voices flowing out of their mouths. Teddy also thinks that some of the Wakefield staff are on to him.

At first, Astrid and Max think Teddy is paranoid, but Max’s strange recurring dreams and a series of unsettling events force them to reconsider Teddy’s claims. Are they a product of his supposedly disturbed mind or is the truth stranger than insanity?

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ "...the ending was a complete surprise to me and I was reading with my jaw dropped open, unable to believe what was all happening, but it was perfect!" – Goodreads reviewer

The first book in the Mad World series takes place at Wakefield Residential and Educational Treatment Facility, an institution as cuddly as it sounds.

Imagine living in your high school. The staffers watch you like hawks and you have to spend twenty-four long hours every day with your classmates. And one more thing—they’re all crazy.

Astrid refers to Wakefield as a "place for messed up kids who couldn't handle the real world," and Max considers it a prison. The residents of Wakefield's four secured units run the gamut from violent juvenile delinquents to mousy girls with eating disorders. The staff consists primarily of underpaid twenty-somethings who do their best, or just the bare minimum, to maintain order amidst the chaos.

The building itself is designed to ensure the residents don't hurt themselves or each other. The beds are bolted to the floor, the bedroom and bathroom doors don't lock, and only plastic utensils are allowed in the dining hall. Residents who lose control are isolated in a "time-away" room until they cool down.

Wakefield may seem like a strange place, but is something even more unnerving lurking beneath the institutional veneer? Or is that simply nonsense from troubled paranoids...

★ ★ ★ ★ ★ "The relationships between all the characters was so real and made me feel like they were real people and I could really relate to them." – Goodreads reviewer

Meet some of the colorful characters who populate the Mad World universe.

Astrid Chalke. While typically smart, independent and a little self-righteous, Astrid arrives at Wakefield as a bitter and depressed fifteen-year-old still reeling from her mother's death. But don't let her prickly exterior fool you—this kid's got a massive soft spot for those who can't help themselves. When she's not questioning authority or keenly observing her peers with a mix of compassion and disdain, she enjoys long naps, loud music and Japanese comic books.

Read an interview with Astrid
Listen to Astrid's Wakefield Playlist

Max Fisher. Max took his normal teenage life for granted until it was snatched from him by a tragic automobile accident and a pencil pushing bureaucrat shipped him off to Wakefield. At sixteen-years-old, he doesn't know what to make of his new home or the bizarre dreams he's been having, but bonding with a few of his fellow residents and listening to his mom's favorite classic rock songs helps him cope.

Read an interview with Max
Listen to Max's Wakefield Playlist

Terrence “Teddy” Theodore. This poor rich-boy carries a laundry list of diagnoses and was admitted to Wakefield as a young teen because his wealthy family found him "inconvenient." Don't call him Terrence unless you want a plastic fork jammed through your hand in the dining hall. Though wild and unpredictable, Teddy is also be charming and fiercely loyal. Now at the edge of seventeen, he's ready to share a few secrets that could rattle the Wakefield status quo.

Read an interview with Teddy

Allyson “Ally” Brennan. Dubbed a "self-destructive walking cliche" by her roommate, Astrid, seventeen-year-old Ally feels no need to hide her addiction to cutting herself or her love of unbridled hissy fits. When she's not loudly chomping on watermelon flavored bubblegum or flipping through the latest issue of CosmoGirl, you can find her quietly plotting manipulative emotional sabotage against her so-called "friends."

Read an interview with Ally

Simon Clevel. As the sixteen-year-old leader of the bully-pack, Simon does the best he can to ensure that Max's first few weeks at Wakefield are a living nightmare. Is there a marshmallow with a heart of gold buried underneath that tough exterior? Anyone who wants to find out will have to tolerate daily torments or do something seriously amazing to get on Simon's good side.

Laura Spiegelman. Laura's a kind and cute fifteen-year-old girl, but she hopes you won't notice. The frequent target of a mean-girl staff member, she finds comfort in classic TV sitcoms and her large collection of stuffed animals, including Sertraline, the bunny she named after her favorite antidepressant. Her parents want her to be more like her outgoing, well-behaved sister, but she'd rather starve herself until she disappears.

Jonathan “Azrael” Applegarth. Azrael may not sparkle, but he'll never admit he's not a vampire. As the scrawny butt of a never-ending joke, this fifteen-year-old goth kid survives at Wakefield by hiding in his room with his collection of vampire encyclopedias and seeking out fellow misfits to befriend. He knows how to roll with the punches, but be careful how far you push him—he might bite. Maybe.

Read an interview with Azrael

Benjamin "Ben" Benson. Seventeen-year-old Ben's a nice guy but he spends most of his time following his roommate, Teddy, around like an over-medicated puppy. When Teddy's occupied, you can usually find Ben sitting in the common area, staring into space or trying to hide the tremors in his hands. You might not care about what goes on inside Ben's head, but just wait until he goes off his meds...

Eduardo Suarez. Fresh out of grad school, Eduardo's been a therapist at Wakefield for only a few months. He likes his job and works hard to balance it with his home life. But something about Wakefield seems a little off to him. Will he ignore his gut instincts, or go the extra mile to find out if Dr. Lycen is hiding something?

Dr. Lycen. As Wakefield's icy Director of Psychiatry, Dr. Lycen is responsible for prescribing meds to many of the Wakefield residents. Teddy thinks Lycen pays more attention to a "special" group of patients. Then again, Dr. Lycen will tell you one of Teddy's many diagnoses is paranoid personality disorder.

Director D’Arc. A devout Christian who's dedicated her life to helping troubled children, Director D'Arc runs Wakefield with a cool head and what seems like a kind heart. She's compassionate, but her work keeps her so busy she rarely has time to interact with the residents. Is she oblivious to the day-to-day or does she know more than she lets on?

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ "The ending of this book blew me away and I'd definitely be interested in reading the next book. It was a pleasantly surprising read with plenty of action and suspense! And a book I would definitely recommend." – TotalTeenFiction