Book Title/Author: The Nest by Kenneth Oppel (Author), Jon Klassen
Publisher/Year: September 29th 2015
Genre: Middle Grade, Childrens, Horror, Fantasy, Fiction, Magical Realism
“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?” (Goodreads)
I read this book in one sitting; I did not want to put it down.
Steve, a young boy who suffers anxiety, and is trying to understand and cope with his newborn baby brother’s disabilities and life-threatening conditions, and how it is affecting his parents. Tension, worry and sadness overwhelm Steve’s parents and Steve is old enough to grasp what is going on and want to find a solution to make everyone happy. That’s when a wasp appears and offers Steve a solution. Steve must overcome his fears to figure out the truth and then find the courage to do what is right.
I think this book is appropriate for readers age 8 and up. This book touches on themes of human mortality, illness and anxiety in an innovative, yet eerie way (if you like Neil Gaiman’s writing and Tim Burton movies, you’ll enjoy The Nest).
The illustrations were a nice addition — don’t get me wrong — I did enjoyed the illustrations, but I do not feel that the illustrations enhanced the story, just a nice to have. In other words, if the illustrations were not present my rating for this book would not differ. What I did like about the illustrations was the growing number of wasps on each chapter introduction page; this helped readers know that something menacing was coming, had you waiting in anticipation a bit.
I also enjoyed the suspense behind the reveal of who was to be trusted; readers are left wondering until the end: the wasps or if Mr. Nobody — a man who makes his presence known in strange ways and comes across benevolent?
“Nothing’s scarier than having a sick child, and one so newly born, and so vulnerable. It’s the worst thing for a parent.”
“Sometimes we really aren’t supposed to be the way we are. It’s not good for us. And people don’t like it. You’ve got to change. You’ve got to try harder and do deep breathing and maybe one day take pills and learn tricks so you can pretend to be more like other people. Normal people. But maybe…all those other people were broken too in their own ways. Maybe we all spent too much time pretending we weren’t.”