Thursday, June 11, 2015

Review: The Nest by Kenneth Oppel

Title: The Nest
Author: Kenneth Oppel
Publication Date: October 6, 2015
Target Age Group: YA
My Rating: 5 out of 5

Book Description (from Amazon)

Steve just wants to save his baby brother—but what will he lose in the bargain? This is a haunting gothic tale for fans of Coraline, from acclaimed author Kenneth Oppel (Silverwing, The Boundless) with illustrations from Caldecott Medalist Jon Klassen.

For some kids summer is a sun-soaked season of fun. But for Steve, it’s just another season of worries. Worries about his sick newborn baby brother who is fighting to survive, worries about his parents who are struggling to cope, even worries about the wasp’s nest looming ominously from the eaves. So when a mysterious wasp queen invades his dreams, offering to “fix” the baby, Steve thinks his prayers have been answered.

All he has to do is say “Yes.” But “yes” is a powerful word. It is also a dangerous one. And once it is uttered, can it be taken back?

Celebrated author Kenneth Oppel creates an eerie masterpiece in this compelling story that explores disability and diversity, fears and dreams, and what ultimately makes a family. Includes illustrations from celebrated artist Jon Klassen.

My Review

This is a newly acquired book from Book Expo America 2015 book. Many thanks to BEA and to Kenneth Oppel for the opportunity to review it before its release.

I have a weakness for really creepy books that crawl right into your mind and haunt it. This, dear readers, is just that type of book.

Steve's new baby brother is very sick, and all he wants is for him to get better. Not only because it's his brother, but for other selfish reasons. Steve is portrayed as a very real boy with real emotions concerning a very real problem. His parents are spending all their time with the baby and not enough on him. 

Then some very cool, unreal elements come into the story. "Angels" appear and say they can make the baby all better, and Steve agrees to let them help. Who wouldn't jump at that opportunity? The angels appeal to Steve, not only because they will help his baby brother, but also because they can help him as well. Steve's parents will be able to spend more time with him instead of worrying about the baby. And, oh by the way, they can make Steve better too, because he's a very anxious boy with OCD. He's "broken", like the baby, but the angels say they can fix him too.

At the same time all this is going on, there's a giant wasp nest growing outside Steve's house, and as it gets closer to the time the angels promise the baby will be all "fixed", the nest grows and grows. And the truth of what these angels have in mind grows more and more apparent, and frightening. 

Not only is this a really cool and creepy story, but there are a lot of very complex, philosophical questions addressed in this book concerning both physical and mental illnesses and how they should be handled. The book works on different levels for this reason. I guarantee both those philosophical questions and the creepiness will take up residence in your head by the end of the story.

I highly recommend reading this book.

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