A seven-year-old girl puts a nail-gun to her grandmother’s neck and fires. An isolated incident, say the experts. The experts are wrong. Across the world, children are killing their families. Is violence contagious?
As chilling murders by children grip the country, anthropologist Hesketh Lock has his own mystery to solve: a bizarre scandal in the Taiwan timber industry. Hesketh has never been good at relationships: Asperger’s Syndrome has seen to that. But he does have a talent for spotting behavioural patterns, and an outsider’s fascination with group dynamics.
Nothing obvious connects Hesketh’s Southeast Asian case with the atrocities back home. Or with the increasingly odd behaviour of his beloved step-son, Freddy. But when Hesketh’s Taiwan contact dies shockingly and more acts of sabotage and child violence sweep the globe, he is forced to acknowledge possibilities that defy the rational principles on which he has staked his life, his career and, most devastatingly of all, his role as a father.
I was already inwardly at odds over this novel before I started reading it. The world as we know it is changing, and giving way to something terrifying and strange – I’m in! Yet, it is narrated by Hesketh, an anthropologist with Asperger’s, which means that the narrative style is comparable to the naive child narrators that irritate me so much. However, the premise was intriguing, and having read Liz Jensen’s novel Ark Baby and loved it, I had relatively high hopes for The Uninvited.
Unfortunately, it just didn’t light my fire. All the way through the novel I was waiting, and waiting, and then desperately hoping that something just a bit more exciting would happen. Due to the narrative style, everything was bogged down in tedious and ultimately tiring details, which to me seemed to detract from the story rather than add to it. The story is very interesting though, and I think with better execution it could have been fascinating. The idea of young children mindlessly murdering close family and loved ones is haunting, and Jensen paints a bleak picture of the fallout from these attacks.
I was kindly granted access to to a Kindle version of The Uninvited on NetGalley.com.