The Uninvited, by Liz Jensen


What a bizarre book. This starts out almost like an apocalyptic or near-dystopian sort of book. Two seemingly disconnected things start happening all around the world. First, there are the children who suddenly attack their parents in gruesome ways, afterwards not remembering what they’ve done, or shutting down completely. Second, there are the adults around the world who sabotage something important to them, and then kill themselves, claiming that their mythological heritage forced them to do both things. The narrator, Hesketh Lock, is a man with Asperger’s syndrome, who investigates the adult suicides, and eventually starts to put the two disconnected happenings together.

Originally, I thought this book was going one direction: a plague or virus or ghosts or aliens causing the children and adults to act this way, and somehow Lock would find a way to “cure” everyone and fix everything. But no. It wasn’t like that at all. In the end, it turns out to be time-jumping children of a hundred-years-distant generation coming back to destroy current society so that their society, many generations later, won’t die out. In the end, all the children run around like wild creatures, killing adults, living off the land, eating mass quantities of salt and bugs; and the adults are stuck without any sort of infrastructure to help them survive (grocery stores, internet, phone, etc). So frickin’ bizarre, and honestly, I’m not sure I liked the book.

The premise was interesting enough, in the beginning. The killings and suicides weren’t too gruesome, and the atmosphere, between the murderous children and the adults screaming about ancestors/trolls/djinn/etc, was incredibly creepy. At the same time, the narrator wasn’t my favorite person in the world, and I didn’t really care about his plotline (separated from his girlfriend, who cheated on him with another woman, and then there’s her son, who Lock thinks of as his own son by now…). His story kept breaking into the main story, probably to give it some sort of human element and/or to really freak us out when the ex-girlfriend’s son kills his mother, when I was more interested in the other parts of the plot. By the end, the whole thing felt contrived. Would an autistic man really form a bond so great to a child that wasn’t even his that he would risk his own life and the lives of other people to save said child? Would said child, who already killed one adult, somehow continue to live with this autistic man who isn’t even a parent without showing any sort of violence OR affection? And so on. By the end, it felt like Lock and the boy, whose name I don’t remember, were only still together so the author had a reason to explain what was going on with the kids.

So the book started out on a high note, and completely fell apart by the end. Maybe I should applaud it for taking the unusual route (nothing is fixed, the world is destroyed), but it was just so weird that I can’t.

About Amanda

Agender empty-nester filling my time with cats, books, fitness, and photography. She/they.
This entry was posted in 2013, Adult, Prose and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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