Inspection by Josh Malerman
Like thousands of other readers on the planet, I was enticed to read “Inspection” after having read “Bird Box”. My curiosity was tickled by the idea of what this unconventional author might come up with next. Also, he’s a Michigan native, and I’m always interested in reading home-grown literature. Both books, to my mind, might be considered “present day dystopian” novels. What I mean by that is that they have storylines that seem to have events that take place in another time – but through closer attention – could actually take place in the here-and-now. It wouldn’t be that big a stretch.
This was my experience of “Inspection”. It’s a bizarre thought, raising children in a protected space… feeding them selective information and emotional understanding, cut off from the rest of society. Yet, when I consider the idea more closely, it’s what many cultures are doing already, and have been doing for centuries.
The most striking part about this book for me was the idea that revolution, insurrection, and redemption are (or can be) discovered through the pages of a book. That simple idea, that the printed word might change an entire community’s concepts of self and others, is profound in my head. Mr. Malerman takes this possibility, dumps it upside down, and allows all the gooey stuff to seep from his characters into his readers, achieving a cacophony of silent defiance.
Two small warnings: this book includes some graphic violence involving pre-teen children near the end chapters, so I wouldn’t recommend it for readers younger than fifteen. And, as with Bird Box, the story doesn’t definitively end… so if you like tightly wrapped packages, you may want to skip this one.
I listened to the audiobook version, and I think it was beneficial to have two narrators, one male and one female. I’m not sure the nuances of characterization or setting description would have struck me in the same way, had there been a single narrator, or had I read the printed page in my own voice.
I’m curious to see what Mr. Malerman comes up with next.
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