J is one of only twenty-six students, all of whom think of the school’s enigmatic founder as their father. J’s peers are the only family he has ever had. The students are being trained to be prodigies of art, science, and athletics, and their life at the school is all they know—and all they are allowed to know.
But J suspects that there is something out there, beyond the pines, that the founder does not want him to see, and he’s beginning to ask questions. What is the real purpose of this place? Why can the students never leave? And what secrets is their father hiding from them?
Meanwhile, on the other side of the forest, in a school very much like J’s, a girl named K is asking the same questions. J has never seen a girl, and K has never seen a boy. As K and J work to investigate the secrets of their two strange schools, they come to discover something even more mysterious: each other.
This is my third Malerman book, and I’ve decided his books should come with a guarantee – the plot will be entirely original, and unlike anything you’ve read.
It’s a fascinating premise – raise children from infancy, seclude them from the outside world, educate them at an advanced rate, and control everything in their lives to include what they wear, read, eat, and do in their leisure time. All while making sure they’re unaware of the opposite sex. You can’t deny it’s thought-provoking, and would certainly inspire some fascinating book club discussions. But what happens when the children learn they’ve been lied to their entire lives? Especially considering their advanced education, maturity, and thought processes?
Even though the childrens’ world is limited, learning it takes a bit of time – it’s bizarre on one level, but practical on another. Malerman elevates common terminology to sinister levels – ‘the Corner’ and ‘spoiled rotten’ – and the inspections are just downright creepy and disturbing.
D.A.D. and M.O.M. are psychologically demented and unbelievably narcissistic, and the reader is given insight as to how this inhumane experiment came to be. Some of their scenes are cringe-worthy and profoundly unsettling.
Inspection is more of a slow burn horror novel, then jumps into light speed near the end – and this is an ending you don’t want to miss. This novel is scheduled for publication April 23rd, 2019.
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the digital ARC.