Monday, 22 October 2012

The Uninvited - Liz Jensen

This is another book I got off Netgalley. The minute I got the email that I had gotten access to it, I ran off to download it. I was very excited about this book and could not wait to get my hands on it.

The Uninvited tells the story of a rash of unexplained child attacks. Normal children, seemingly happy and well adjusted, start attacking family members for no reason. Meanwhile, our hero, Hesketh Lock, is sent on a strange business trip. He works for a company that helps corporations manage scandals. He is sent to Taiwan to investigate a whistleblower who seems to be more ashamed of himself than happy with what he's done.

Hesketh is an interesting main character. A man with Aspergers, he narrates the story with an interesting take as he views the world differently than many a protagonist would. He constantly reflects on a recently broken relationship, thinking back to why it broke up and how much he misses the boy he had become a surrogate father to. At first I thought all of the looking back and the pining was a bit much but it ties into the story about midway in a not unexpected but interesting way. Jensen even went a bit further than I thought she might have and I was impressed.

I honestly could not put this book down and finished it in about two days. There were twists and turns galore. At one point, I was reading the book on the train on my way to a friend's and actually gasped aloud. Definitely an edge of your seat thriller.

I was also impressed with how genuinely creepy Jensen is able to set the mood. Pulling off a "scary" book is one of the hardest things, I believe. When it comes to television and movies, the right atmosphere, lighting and music can set any scene but with literature, it all comes down to the right combination of words. I'm not usually frightened by books but there was a bit, when I put the book down after reading the chapter on the tower in Dubai, where I lay in bed and couldn't help but glance and make sure there wasn't an evil little girl in the room with me.

One thing that is absolutely lovely with this book is that every chapter drives harder and harder towards the end. Each chapter builds upon what it had before and creates a genuine and taut air of tension. I'm honestly surprised I managed to read it in two sittings. The only thing that disappointed me was that I felt the ending didn't quite live up to what came before. Was it a perfectly adequate and understandable ending? Yes. I just felt like there was a bit more coming, a new twist that ultimately was more expected than revelatory. It reminded me of Childhood's End by Arthur C. Clarke. Which is a good thing because that book is amazing. Still, though, it felt expected, in the way it hadn't in that novel.

Overall, I did absolutely adore this. It was right up my alley, scary, thrilling and full of twists and turns. I would recommend it in a heartbeat. You will not be able to put it down. 

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