This is the second book I read by Orson Scott Card, the first one being Ender’s Game, which I was not a big fan of. This book has been on my TBR for a bit, and it sounded really interesting. However, this book was totally different than the book synopsis promised it would be.
Page Count: 528
Synopsis: Mormon computer programmer Step Fletcher and his family move into a new house in a small town in North Carolina, hoping to start over after financial difficulties. But soon strange things start to happen. His oldest son Stevie begins to collect imaginary friends of boys his age. Young boys are going missing in town. Insects of all sorts begin invading the family house, and the family encounters some strange individuals in town.
(Mostly) Non-Spoiler Review
I went into this book expecting a mystery and the dastardly depths going on in this town. All those things are contained in the book, but only for about 10% of the story. The rest is simply the documentation of the Fletcher family’s struggles in adapting to life in a new town. Step’s wife, DeAnne, is pregnant, trying to care for three young children. Step is having to survive in a toxic work environment when all he wants to do is program games. Step’s oldest son Stevie is being bullied in school. The family is trying to fit into the Mormon church in town. All these problems are forefront in the book, while the more mysterious elements make only rare appearances. The ending certainly focuses on the mystery more, but most of the book does not. Usually, with a book like this, I would find myself disliking the slowness and the lack of focus, but I found myself really interested in the life of this family. All the characters are very real. They deal with pain and conflict, and none of it feels overdone or manufactured to make the plot more dramatic. I also appreciated how detailed Card examined different elements. Like Step’s job as a programmer, or their Mormon faith. Just go into this book expecting a family drama with a little mystery, and you’ll love it. Saying that, I did feel like certain subplots were pointless, but for the most part I enjoyed it.
Card mentioned he was inspired to write this book after reading Pet Cemetery by Stephan King, and I can definitely see a similarity in the two authors’ writing style. Both have a focus on spending a lot of time getting to know the characters, and give great emphasis to character driven horror (all the badguys in Lost Boys are human, showing evil within humanity). Like King also, this book is extremely long and slow moving.
Saying that, I did love a lot of themes this book explores. Perhaps the most potent one is the idea of evil being around you, even in places which seem nice and pleasant. Evil is inside all of us, and people who seem nice and pleasant might be struggling with sin and temptation inside them. We see this with Stevie’s teacher, who encourages students to bully him and shows no remorse. We see this with the serial killer who is murdering young boys in the town. We see it between even Step and his wife DeAnne in their arguments, when they sometimes say cruel things and later realize they were wrong and must apologize. A young, mixed up boy Step befriends in his church turns out to be somewhat dangerous and highly deluded.
But other themes are also explored. For example, we must be aware of our surroundings because dangers are always going to be around us. Even if Step and DeAnne try to protect their children, at times it is not enough. Another might be to listen to children. Stevie knows what is going on far before his parents and yet because Step and DeAnne dismiss his imaginary friends as being imaginary, they don’t learn the truth until it’s too late.
The ending (within giving away spoilers) was pretty horrific and sad. The murderer is found, but at a terrible cost which left the Fletcher family trying to pick up the pieces of their wounded lives. The ended felt sudden, but not wholly unexpected and I will say I suspected the murderer for a while.
This book does play on a strange line between fantasy and reality. Besides Stevie’s imaginary friends, the book was entirely realistic, so it was an interesting choice to include ghosts in an otherwise normal world. But I thought the fantasy elements were woven in well enough that I didn’t mind any rational reasoning to why there were ghosts.
I really enjoyed this book, even if I went into it expecting an entirely different book.
Have you heard of this book? Does it look interesting to you? Have you read any other books by Orson Scott Card? Let me know your thoughts down in the comments, follow my blog for more musings and, as always,
Best wishes in your life full of adventure,