Author: Liz Jensen
Publication Date: January 8th 2013
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. (less)
First things first: I love this book! Love it! The Uninvited is one of those books that I just get and has so many elements that I love. I might use the word love a lot in this review, so be prepared. It’s also one of those books that I am holding close, and don’t want to hear if people didn’t like it or if they had any issues with it. I honestly don’t care, because The Uninvited is now a high favorite of mine and will remain so for a long time. It’s books like this that frustrate me because I want to convey so badly exactly why I love it, but I know I won’t be able to the way I want.
When Hesketh is sent to various countries within a short time to investigate saboteurs of huge corporations, he starts seeing the pattern and connections between them, even though they are continents apart. At the same time, something very frightening is going on with the children all over the world. Every one under 10 turns on humanity. What unfolds is a creative and compelling story that I was completely absorbed in. The psychological, anthropological, and societal aspects of this book were incredibly intriguing. It pulled me in, making me need to understand and figure out what was going on. And the way the author incorporated various cultures and their beliefs was brilliant.
The Uninvited did something that very few books can do to me – freak me out. Zombies, werewolves, vampires, and all of those other creatures don’t affect me. Little kids turning into killers? That gets me. Right off the bat, the story starts with a 7-year-old girl killing her grandmother with a nail gun. I do admit, the story seems to be on the slow side for the 30 or so pages after that, but then it picks up and gets back into the truly disturbing stuff.
The way this book is written is great. It may seem like the author veers off sometimes, but every single thing is said for a reason. The Uninvited is sort of like a puzzle. You are given individual pieces, and then you start putting little sections together; it just keeps building until you get the full picture. I can’t even express how much I love that. It’s not a story that’s just laid out neatly before you. It takes you on a ride that gives you plenty of “oh, wow” moments as you piece things together. Things that might seem irrelevant at first, will have meaning eventually and give some understanding to a situation or character.
Liz Jensen has created a main character that I find absolutely fascinating. Hesketh Lock is a 36-year-old man with Asperger’s syndrome, but he has observed the behavior of other people and adapted his social skills. He is always logical and analytical, and doesn’t really feel regular emotions. His boss/friend even calls him Spock because of this, which makes for some funny moments. Hesketh’s ability to find patterns and connections makes him the perfect behavioral pattern expert.
Looking at everything from Hesketh’s perspective was interesting. And what the author did so well, was allow us to read others’ assessments or body language from Hesketh’s perspective, even though he wasn’t always able to. In other words: the reader knew what the other person was conveying, even when Hesketh didn’t. I hope that makes sense. I also loved his relationship with 7-year-old Freddy, even when things got bad.
Through the whole book, especially once I started realizing how much I was enjoying it, I kept hoping the ending or the cause of the pandemic wouldn’t be lame. Thank goodness Jensen didn’t let me down! It was really creative and brought everything together. I was left feeling completely satisfied and reflective.
So again, what it all comes down to is this: I love The Uninvited!
“And I know, definitely: a new phase of human history has begun.”