by Kenneth Oppel
Illustrated by Jon Klassen
Ages 10 and up
Reviewed by Elizabeth B., Reference Librarian
The Nest is about a tween boy named Steve who is worried about his baby brother. His brother was born a few days ago with multiple health problems that cannot be fixed with surgery or medicine, and he will have to live with these health problems for the rest of his life. This will be a great emotional and financial burden for Steve’s family. Naturally, Steve wishes there was something he could do to help his little brother, but he is powerless.
Then, 10 days after his brother is born, and shortly after Steve gets stung by a strange wasp, he dreams about a mysterious figure who tells him that it can help his brother. At first Steve thinks it's just a wishful dream, but then he starts to see little clues in the world around him that suggests the figure is real and that it really can do something for his brother. After having multiple dreams about the figure, he finds out that all he has to do to help his brother is say “yes” in his dream. However, Steve begins to suspect that he may be saying “yes” to more than just saving his baby brother and that the figure may have more sinister intentions...
This is by far one of the creepiest books I have ever read. Not only is the story truly frightening, but the writing is hauntingly beautiful, and the stark and simple black and white illustrations by Jon Klassen add to the creepy tone of the book. What really unnerved me about the story was how it turned something simple (such as a wasp’s nest) into something much more sinister.
Another aspect of the book I really liked were the numerous plot twists for which Kenneth Oppel is known. He knows how to turn your expectations around and totally surprise you by going in an unlikely direction. I also appreciated the main character, Steve. I found myself identifying with his feeling of helplessness and his desire to do everything possible to help someone he cares about. One thing I did not like was the cover of the book. It does not catch your attention and is not an accurate reflection of the contents of the book. If I was not such a big fan of this author, I would never have picked up this book based on its forgettable cover.
I would rate this book a 5 out of 5, and would recommend it to readers of Neil Gaiman’s Coraline and Patrick Ness’s A Monster Calls, or any reader looking for an unexpected horror story that will haunt them long after they have read the last page. Be warned though—you will never look at a wasp’s nest the same way again!
Editor's note: This book is on order for the Children's section and should be here soon to creep you out!