The Uninvited by Liz Jensen

The Uninvited

Five words from the blurb: child, violence, Asperger’s, psychological, connect

As you may know, I make an effort to read as many books as possible that contain characters with Asperger’s syndrome. On Autism Awareness Day Hannah pointed out that The Uninvited fitted my criteria and so I added it to the top of my wish-list. By a strange twist of fate I was offered a review copy just a week later and so I accepted, keen to try one of Liz Jensen’s books for the first time.

The Uninvited is a psychological thriller in which children start attacking adults for no known reason. The central character, Hesketh, is an anthropologist. He is sent to Taiwan to investigate fraud within the timber industry, but quickly finds himself involved in the global child violence crisis.

The book begins well, with a vivid scene in which a seven-year-old girl kills her grandmother with a nail gun, but unfortunately that level of tension failed to re-appear later in the book. The scenes of violence were too fragmented and the explanations for the attacks were too far fetched for me to become fearful.

Hesketh has Asperger’s and I found him to be well developed, with realistic traits for someone on the spectrum. I liked the way Asperger’s was portrayed in a positive light, but I found mentions of the condition too frequent. The reader is made aware of the Asperger’s early on, but I found the continual reference back to it burdensome. If you don’t know much about the condition then you will find it useful, but I wish it hadn’t had such a dominant role.

One of my chief coping mechanisms, in mental emergencies, involves origami: I carry an imaginary sheaf of delicate rice paper in my head, in a range of shades, to fold into classical shapes. When the image of Freddy shooting Kaitlin first reared up I swiftly folded eleven of the Japanese cranes known as ozuru, but I couldn’t banish it.

The Uninvited has a lot to recommend it. It is a fast paced, entertaining read that treats Asperger’s with sensitivity, but I’m afraid the plot lacked the realism required to give it real impact.


The thoughts of other bloggers:

…one of the most genius and bizarre pieces of literature I’ve read in a very long time. A Bookish Libraria

…everything was bogged down in tedious and ultimately tiring details… Judging Covers

 While the book showed lots of promise, ultimately the ending ruined it for me. Book Addiction

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  1. stujallen says:

    seems like an interesting read ,not read her yet but nice to see the subject treat with sensitivity,all the best stu

    1. Jackie says:

      Stu, I’ve heard some amazing things about her earlier books – especially Louis Drax – I will have to try that at some point too. I’ll be interested to see what you think of her writing.

  2. I loved this book. I agree some things were kept quite vague but I didn’t mind that. I loved the mystery of the book/situation. Here’s my review, which I’m sure you’d like to revisit:

    1. Jackie says:

      Judith, It sounds as though you enjoyed this one a lot more than I did. You’re far more tolerant of weird than I am!

  3. Teresa says:

    Hmm, don’t think it’s for me. Thanks for the balanced review, as always, Jackie.

    1. Jackie says:

      Teresa, It might be worth you reading this just for the positive treatment of Asperger’s – it’s the sort of thing that does warm the heart of a mother. :-) Shame the rest of the plot wasn’t as good.

  4. Do plan on reading this one as I have the eGalley. Thanks for sharing your thoughts

    1. Jackie says:

      Diane, I think you’ll enjoy this more than I did. I look forward to reading your thoughts.

  5. Hannah says:

    I’m glad you enjoyed it! I think without Hesketh and the portrayal of Asperger’s he represents the book would have a lot less going for it though ;)

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