by Kenneth Oppel
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
....Oh, how I love this book!
Truly horrifying and engrossing, this mid-grade read will appeal to horror fans. Kenneth Oppel has done the impossible--written a horror book that's scary, yes, but approachable for middle grades. The Nest has classic elements of horror: a family in turmoil, a boy who is a loner but longs for someone to talk to, a younger sister who is easy to approach, a mother and father busy with their infant son--too busy to see what's going on with their other children, a creepy knife sharpening man, a doctor who tries to help, a secret illness and a way to make everything perfect again.
Stephen worries when he hears his parents talking about the new baby's illness. He's just not right. The doctors always need to run tests; they worry the baby's heart will never be strong enough. Stephen's parents spend days and nights at the hospital leaving Stephen and his sister in the babysitter's care. Stephen begins to have a strange dream. Night after night, he dreams he sees an angel, and each night the angel becomes more clear to him. She talks to Stephen about the baby and offers to help the baby get well...to become perfect. At first, Stephen doesn't ask many questions. He realizes it's just a dream. An angel from a dream can't make things happen, right?
Stephen realizes the angel is a white wasp and her nest is the wasp's nest under the eaves of his home. Stephen becomes terrified then. The Queen wasp tells Stephen not to worry about anything; she will make sure his baby is fine. When Stephen realizes that the Queen plans on stealing the baby and replacing it with a "perfect" one, he tells her that he won't help her. There's nothing worse than an angry wasp, but an angry wasp Queen?
Descriptions of the nest will terrify and the thing that lives within will haunt my nightmares. From the mid-point of the book until the last page, readers will rush to turn pages at a breakneck speed. A quick read; this book should appeal to reluctant readers.
The Nest will top all "Best of" lists and I expect it will win awards (it's too bad Oppel is Canadian and not able to win the Newbery). The Nest is truly a unique read for middle grades.
FTC Required Disclaimer: I received the ARC from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.
This review has been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf)