I just finished reading this while on holiday, and thought it best to write a review while it’s still fresh in my mind. But it was quite a thought provoking novel, one which I will be thinking about for a while yet, and not one that will slip from the memory relatively quickly.
Firstly, the negatives. Well, there is only one, but it’s quite a big one. The blurb on the back of this book is quite misleading, and after I got about 40 pages in, I stopped reading it for a few weeks, feeling a little disappointed. The blurb was so intriguing I bought the book immediately. It starts like this: 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. When anthropologist Hesketh Lock travels to Taiwan to investigate sabotage in the timber industry, he has no reason to connect the events there with the incidents back home. Or with the increasingly odd behaviour of his beloved step-son. The opening of prologue of the book is just as promising: Mass hysterical outbreaks rarely have identifiable inceptions, but the date I recall most vividly is Sunday 16th September, when a young child in butterfly pyjamas slaughtered her grandmother with a nail gun to the neck.
But this issue of children killing their family members isn’t really mentioned again after that for another 100 pages or so, and except for Hesketh’s stepson, the children and their specific point of view don’t feature in the novel at all. They are figures, albeit significant ones, in the background. So I can see why The Uninvited has had some negative reviews – the blurb, and indeed the cover of a book, are its selling points. The cover art of this book too, in its various forms, makes a suggestion about its contents. These things should be accurate, and not misleading.
However, on returning to this book, I was happy that I persevered. It might not have matched his description, but it was a great read none the less. Hesketh makes for an interesting narrator, his high functioning Asperger’s giving him a perspective on the world that others in the midst of this crisis don’t, which can be both a help and a hindrance when it comes to trying to work out what is going on. He and others try and get to the source of the problem, namely, why adults across the world are unconsciously sabotaging the corporations they work for, and how this might be connected to the spate of children murdering their own family members, before these events begin to break up the fabric of society as we know it. Could there be a cure for the irrational behaviour, or is it caused by something supernatural?
The Uninvited is a thought provoking, if indirect, look at the way we live our lives and the way the human race functions as global consumers, and what affect this could have on our futures. Reader beware – if you’re expecting a horror story about demon children, that isn’t exactly what you will get. But what you do get is intriguing, chilling and unsettling, though perhaps not in the way you might have expected.