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Review: Inspection by Josh Malerman

book review of inspection by josh malerman

Inspection

Josh Malerman

J is a student at a school deep in a forest far away from the rest of the world. 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…more.

My Rating:

Two people, a man and a woman, who for better or worse should be deemed a couple, imagine a brave new world in which they raise children without the opposite sex nearby, claiming such distractions will allow them to exceed beyond normal intelligence in Josh Malerman’s Inspection. Are they disillusioned to believe such a life, a boy not knowing of a girl, and a girl not knowing of a boy, wouldn’t leave scars, or perhaps create its own rebellion? These are some of the question explored in this polarizing novel.

This was an interesting read on an experience level, because I got to listen to about half of this on audiobooks, and then read the rest, thanks to getting the hard cover book in my Nightworms box, an awesome subscription box for horror fans! What worked best about this novel was the separation between the boys’ house and the girls’ house. The whole time reading (or listening), I kept imagining the fantastic, atmospheric movies by Pascal Laugier (Martyrs, House of Voices).

In fact, if it were to be adapted, I’d recommend him as the director. It also had a sense of Never Let Me Go, by Kazuo Ishiguro and Death House, by Sarah Pinborough. The difference was, Inspection took place in the middle of the very first experiment, which may or may not lead to a dystopian future, while the others are set in said future, where the lifestyle has already been well ingrained in the inhabitants of the plot.

Each and every one of the main characters in this book are remarkable, in that they could be understood, even the couple, D.A.D and M.O.M., who though misguided (or are they?), their points are well made, and they are human in all aspects. But, on a critical level, I’m not sure if this is the near future, which would be something more easily grasped with the current events of our time, or if it’s the distant future, where it would be more of a comment on what’s being planted now and how it might blossom and change. The book also lacks a sense of reasoning in the grand scheme. Did these people actually think such an experiment would reasonably play out well for all involved? Even for a scientist, the experiment seems a very far stretch and likely not feasible.

There is a Romeo and Juliet experience here as well. Two young people, enlightened beyond the means of what their ‘families’ are brainwashing them with, who want to see beyond the limitations of the life they’ve been fed. Mix that with some Lord of the Flies children doing what they must to survive, Inspection mixes so many classic themes into a new arena that draws out the ‘mama bear’ in all of us. Thematically this novel is so familiar, even the slight changes of character and plot don’t detract from what readers already know and expect. It wasn’t a surprise, but the gore was well written, the prose expertly woven and the hope that these children succeeded in freeing themselves (even with the violence) so prominent that the book is worth diving into.

Side note: Level 16 a new movie released in 2019 is a story about girls only but worth watching if you’re looking for something in the similar vein as above mentioned horror films.

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book review of inspection by josh malerman
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