‘The Nest’ by Kenneth Oppel [Book Review]

Today I finished one of the most unique books I’ve ever read: The Nest by Kenneth Oppel for the 2017 Reading Challenge. Unfortunately, it wasn’t unique in a good way. I did blaze through it though; it was a strangely addictive read.

Title: The Nest
Author: Kenneth Oppel
Released: 2015
Pages: 246
Category: #53 A book featuring magical realism
Rating: 4/10

“‘Yes’ is a very powerful word. It’s like opening a door. It’s like fanning a flame. It’s the most powerful word in the world.”

When Steve’s parents bring home his deathly ill baby brother, his entire family are in turmoil. Out of the blue, a wasp offers Steve a deal: trade his sick sibling for a shiny, new and healthy one. Our protagonist battles mental illness, and has to fight his fears to decide what is real and true.

As a novel it is incredibly strange. I’d heard it likened to A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, but that is doing a disservice to Ness’s masterpiece. In reality it is simply weird, and not in a good way. It is strangely aggressive for a middle-grade book, but the illustrations were beautifully haunting, partially making up for what I can only deem a disappointing novel.

I wouldn’t go as far as saying I hated this book, but it absolutely wasn’t what I expected it to be. It was dark and depressing, and I couldn’t work out (even upon the conclusion of the novel) what was real and what was a figment of Steve’s imagination, so in my opinion it kind of failed in the magical realism genre. Despite a disheartening introduction into Kenneth Oppel’s work, I have heard very good things about The Boundless, so I’m not going to write him off as an author just yet.

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