Book Review: The Uninvited by Liz Jensen

The Uninvited by Liz JensenLiz Jensen is one of those quiet writers that you don’t hear a lot about, but who has a few titles in her name. Her most well-known is The Ninth Life of Louis Drax but more recently her book The Rapture has had some attention on the book blogs. I have read several of her books and enjoyed them to 4 stars or higher. Both The Rapture and The Paper Eater are dystopian/apocalyptic novels just like The Uninvited. Jensen’s book are always a bit odd which makes them good fun.

The Uninvited: What it is about

From the publishers: “A seven-year-old girl puts a nail-gun to her grandmother’s neck and fires. An isolated incident, say the experts. The experts are wrong. Across the world, children are killing their families. Is violence contagious?

As chilling murders by children grip the country, anthropologist Hesketh Lock has his own mystery to solve: a bizarre scandal in the Taiwan timber industry. Hesketh has never been good at relationships: Asperger’s Syndrome has seen to that. But he does have a talent for spotting behavioural patterns, and an outsider’s fascination with group dynamics.

Nothing obvious connects Hesketh’s Southeast Asian case with the atrocities back home. Or with the increasingly odd behaviour of his beloved step-son, Freddy. But when Hesketh’s Taiwan contact dies shockingly and more acts of sabotage and child violence sweep the globe, he is forced to acknowledge possibilities that defy the rational principles on which he has staked his life, his career and, most devastatingly of all, his role as a father.

Part psychological thriller, part dystopian nightmare, The Uninvited is a powerful and viscerally unsettling portrait of apocalypse in embryo.”

The Uninvited: What I thought

I loved this book! I loved the main character, 36 year old Hesketh, who has Asperger’s Syndrome and has his own way of dealing with people and situations. When it gets too much, he carries out his hobby, origami paper folding, in his head: he thinks through the steps of folding a swan in order to calm himself down and to shut himself off from his environment – what a fantastic idea!

He also creates flow charts in his head to work out the possible outcome of situations, which he uses during his investigations into industrial sabotage and parent-killing children.

This novel is an apocalyptic mystery story in which Hesketh tries to find out what is going on with the world. Things seem to get worse and not just in his own country: all over the world similar things happen. He gets very close to the action when he is a first-hand witness of both a suicide and of a murdering child as well as a sabotaging colleague. He slowly realises what is going on.

Weird things happen in the book. I loved trying to work out what could be happening to the world and used each “clue” to think along with Hesketh and his colleagues in order to solve the mystery. The build-up to the ending seemed unsatisfying at first, but when I finished the book, I was happy with the solution after all.

Rating: 5 (out of 5)

Number of pages: 320

First published: 2013, January 8th (USA, 2012 UK)

I got this book: from the publishers for review via Netgalley

Genre: contemporary fiction, speculative fiction

Extra: Other books I read by Liz Jensen: The Ninth Life of Louis Drax, The Rapture, The Paper Eater and My Dirty Little Book of Stolen Time


Have you read this book?

What did you think?

About Leeswammes
I'm owner and editor at In my free time, I read and review books on my two blogs, Leeswammes' Blog and De Boekblogger.

15 Responses to Book Review: The Uninvited by Liz Jensen

  1. Charlie says:

    This book sounds interesting on many levels, especially what you’ve said about being able to use the clues as a reader. One for the TBR definitely.

  2. Definitely one for my list! 🙂

  3. Kelly says:

    I loved this book as well! I wasn’t sure of the ending at first either, but after I thought about it for a while, I felt that it was a good fit.

  4. I own 3 Liz Jensen books, but still haven’t tried one. Another author I somehow need to cram into 2013! It is great to see you enjoyed this one so much. I think I might start with Louis Drax – do you think that is a good choice for me?

  5. This sounds awesome. I love the overview and was so happy to see you loved it.

  6. Marie says:

    I have been wanting to read this for a while now and even more when you tell me that the reader can put the clues together to work things out alongside the plot – I love books like that! They’re so satisfying.

  7. Athira says:

    I’ve been seeing this one around and that premise is very very compelling. I am hoping to get my hands on this one soon.

  8. I really struggled with this one. I wanted it to be so much more than it was, but found it so waffly and all over the place. It seemed to end where it should have begun–I think that the concept raised at the end was just way too huge to be able to write about adequately, which is why it ended where it did.

    It had a lot of potential, but felt a bit flat for me.

    • Leeswammes says:

      Stephanie, what a pity the book didn’t work for you! I agree the concept at the end was a biggie and could have been expanded quite a bit. Still, for me the book was really good fun.

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