Author: Liz Jensen
Rating: 4 Stars
Review By: Shana
Another book in the long line of horror and horror-adjacent stories that casts children as antagonist, monster, an inscrutable and malevolent force.
Jensen sets the stage with what appear to be two pandemics sweeping the globe, both with apparent tinges of mass hysteria. One is a rash of corporate sabotage, always performed by insiders who had no reason to commit sabotage and find themselves baffled and blaming supernatural forces (djinns, ghosts of ancestors, folklore trolls). The second is a set of inexplicable attacks committed by prepubescent children, who murder and grievously injure adults close to them.
Jensen tells the story of these unfathomable actions through main character Hesketh Lock, a man with Asperger syndrome, who works as an anthropologist identifying behavioral patterns as an effort to troubleshoot corporate problems. As news mounts and Lock investigates the adult saboteurs, he begins to intuit a link to the extreme violence engaged in by children. The plot steadily unfolds and is made richer by Lock's interpersonal difficulties. He is struggling to interact with people naturally while simultaneously attempting to deal with the aftermath of a romantic break-up, a break-up that results in his separation from a boy he has come to see as a son.
In the end, my one complaint is that the book seems to rush in the final chapters to reach the conclusion, not letting it unfold at the pace of the rest of the story and failing to feel organic. But all in all, a successful novel that balances unsettling premises with a critique of modern life and the world we are creating for future generations.
My love of reading was sparked in 3rd grade by the promise of personal pan pizzas via the BOOK IT! Program. Hmmmm... any chance that someone might give adults free food for reading? Asking for a friend...