The Uninvited by Liz Jensen
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 behavioral patterns and an outsider’s fascination with group dynamics. Nothing obvious connects Hesketh’s Asian case with the atrocities back home. Or with the increasingly odd behavior of his beloved stepson, 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. Part psychological thriller, part dystopian nightmare, The Uninvited is a powerful and viscerally unsettling portrait of apocalypse in embryo.
Fans of Stephen King, James Patterson and Dean Kootz will enjoy Uninvited. I literally could not put this down, despite its meandering pace; I became completely caught up in the events that occurred within it’s pages. Jensen delivers a thought provoking, creep-tastic novel that had me on the edge of my seat.
The story is delivered through the voice of Hesketh. He has Asperser’s Syndrome and while it makes interaction and understanding with people difficult, it proves to be an asset on the job. His company assists businesses in finding whistle-blowers who sabotage the company’s reputation. Then they help them re-invent themselves. Hesketh is the man they send because he is able to put the pieces together, vet out the problem and find viable solutions. He has just ending a relationship with a woman, and while he is comfortable with it ending, he misses his stepson Freddy K. A large number of whistle blowers are emerging globally, but even more alarming children are killing their loved ones and exhibiting some strange behavior. The tale that unfolds was fascinating, and eerily realistic. This tale had me turning the pages to discover answers.
Hesketh is not an easy character to understand. At times he can be a little abrasive. He is extremely intelligent and the way his mind works fascinated me. He has formed a bond with Freddy K and it felt very genuine. As Hesketh meets each of the other characters it has a profound effect on him and his thinking process. Freddy K and the other children intrigued me, as I attempted to understand what was happening. These children appear to have no knowledge of the heinous acts they commit, and their physical and emotional changes were freaky-tastic. The author made me believe and I love when the lines of reality blurr as I am reading. Other characters were interesting, unique and added to the intensity of the overall plot.
Jensen presents such a unique tale. It had elements of horror and science fiction. The tale begins on the cusp of a truly scary dystopian world and she takes us along for the ride. I like that she used the voice of Hesketh to deliver the tale. The fact that he has Asperger’s Syndrome made his telling scientific, and I loved how his logical mind attempted to piece together what it could not understand. Jensen obviously did her research, and was able to show the compassion and feelings of the man as well. All of the characters, including the children were fleshed out and became very real to me. I could literally see these events unfolding. What occurred was chilling, mind-boggling and felt very realistic. Hesketh use of Venn diagrams held me captive as he slowly made connections. The why, was fascinating and clever and thought provoking. While the ending is not climatic it was extremely profound. I closed the book and thought, Wow, just Wow.
Fans of thought provoking, creepy dystopians will enjoy this tale. I also think fans of horror and science fiction will be drawn to this one as well. I simply loved this book and it left me completely satisfied on so many levels. I will definitely be reading more of this author’s work.
Five cups of high-test coffee out of five