J is a student at a school deep in a forest far away from the rest of the world.
J is one of only twenty-six students, who think of their enigmatic school's founder as their father. His fellow peers are the only family J has ever had. The students are being trained to be prodigies of art, science, and athletics, and their life at the school is all they know--and all they are allowed to know.
But J is beginning to suspect that there is something out there, beyond the pines, that the founder does not want him to see, and he's beginning to ask questions. What is the real purpose of this place? Why can the students never leave? And what secrets is their father hiding from them?
Meanwhile, on the other side of the forest, in a school very much like J's, a girl named K is asking the same questions. J has never seen a girl, and K has never seen a boy. As K and J work to investigate the secrets of their two strange schools, they come to discover something even more mysterious: each other.
In Inspection, the masterful author of Bird Box crafts a sinister and evocative gender equality anthem that will have readers guessing until the final page.
|Publisher:||Random House Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||6.10(w) x 9.30(h) x 2.30(d)|
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Good Morning at the Parenthood!
No boy had ever failed an Inspection.
For this, J felt no anxiety as the steel door creaked open before him, as the faces of the Parenthood looked out, as the Inspectors stood against the far wall, each with a hand on the magnifying glasses hooked to their belts. J had done this every morning of his life, every morning he could remember, and, despite Q’s theories on likelihoods and probabilities (his idea that eventually someone must fail in order to justify a lifetime of Inspections), J felt no doubt, no dread, no fear.
“Enter, J,” Collins called. Collins, the stuffiest, oldest, burliest Inspector of all. The man smelled of old textbooks. His belly hung so far over his belt D joked he kept an Alphabet Boy hidden in there. That’s where we come from, D had said. But all the Alphabet Boys knew they came from the Orchard, having grown on the Living Trees.
“Come on, then,” Collins said. It was a wonder any words at all made it through the man’s bushy brown mustache.
J knew the Inspector did not speak for himself.
D.A.D. must’ve given the signal it was time to begin.
To the snickers of L, D, and Q behind him, J entered and removed his pajamas, folding them and placing them in a neat pile upon the steel end table by the Check-Up room door. As the door was closing behind J, D called, “Shoulda showered, J!” And J pointed at him, the Alphabet Boys’ gesture that meant, You’re a jerk, brother.
The door locked into place, his clothes nicely piled, J stepped to the pair of rubber footprints on the cold steel floor. Winter was close, arriving perhaps as soon as tomorrow. And while J enjoyed the Effigy Meet as much as his brothers, he liked to keep the cold outside. The Check-Up room was as frigid as any he knew in the Turret.
“Turn,” Inspector Collins said. He and Jeffrey observed from a distance, always the first step of the morning’s Inspection. The dogs breathed heavy behind the glass door beyond the men. J turned to his left. He heard the leather of D.A.D.’s red jacket stretching. The man, as of yet out of sight, must have crossed his arms or sat back in his chair.
Winter outside the Turret could be brutal. Some years were worse than others. J, nearing his thirteenth birthday along with his twenty-three brothers, had experienced twelve winters. And with each one, Professor Gulch warned the boys about depression. The sense of loneliness that came from being stuck inside a ten-story tower, when the Orchard and the Yard froze over, when even the pines looked too cold to survive.
Hysteria, J thought. He shook his head, trying to roll the idea out his ear. It was a word he didn’t like anywhere inside his head. As if the four syllables had the same properties as Rotts and Moldus, Vees and Placasores. The very diseases the Inspectors searched him for now.
Collins again. His gruff voice part and parcel of the Check-Up room. Like the sound of clacking dishes in the cafeteria. Or the choral voices of his brothers in the Body Hall.
“Cold,” J said, turning his back to the Inspectors, facing now the locked door.
It was often chilly in the Check-Up room; unseen breezes, as if the solid-steel walls were only an illusion, and the distorted reflections unstable drawing on the wind. J imagined a slit somewhere, a crack in those walls, allowing pre-winter inside. It was similar, J thought, to the veterinarian’s office in Lawrence Luxley’s book Dogs and Dog Days. The brilliant leisure writer had described the poor animals’ reactions so well:
Unwelcoming, cold, it was as though Doctor Grand had intentionally made it so, so that the dogs understood the severity of their visits. And still, despite the inhospitable environs, the dogs understood that the room was good for them. That their lives depended on these regular visits. Some of them were even able to suppress their basest instincts . . . the ones that told them to run.
J had memorized all of Lawrence Luxley’s books. Many of the Alphabet Boys had.
J did as he was told. Always had. The routine of the Inspections was as ingrained in his being as chewing before swallowing.
And with this third turn, he faced D.A.D.
A thrill ran through him, as it always had, twelve years running, to see D.A.D. for the first time in the day.
The bright-red jacket and pants were like a warm fire in the cold Check-Up room. Or the sun coming up. “Did you sleep well, J?”
D.A.D.’s voice. Always direct, always athletic. J wasn’t the only Alphabet Boy who equated the man’s voice with strength. Comfort. Security. Knowledge.
“I actually did not,” J said, his twelve-year-old voice an octave deeper than it was only a year ago. “I dreamt something terrible.”
“Is that right?” D.A.D.’s hazel eyes shone above his black beard, his hair black, too. J had black hair. Just like his D.A.D. “I’m intrigued. Tell me all about it.”
“Turn,” Collins said. And J turned to face the Inspectors and the dogs all over again.
No longer facing D.A.D., the color red like a nosebleed out of the corner of his eye now, J recounted his unconscious struggle. He’d been lost in a Yard four hundred times the size of the one he enjoyed every day. He described the horror of not being able to find his way back to the Turret.
“Lost?” D.A.D. echoed. The obvious interest in his voice was as clear to J as the subtle sound of his leather gloves folding around his pencil.
Yes, J told him, yes, he’d felt lost in the dream. He’d somehow strayed too far from the Turret and the Parenthood within. He couldn’t remember how exactly—the actual pines framing the Yard in were not present in this dream. But he was certainly very anxious to get back. He could hear his floor mates Q, D, and L calling from a distance but could not see the orange bricks of the tower. He couldn’t make out the iron spires that framed the roof’s ledge like a lonely bottom row of teeth. Teeth J and the other Alphabet Boys had looked through many nights, having found the nerve to sneak up to the roof. Nor could he see the tallest of the spires, the single iron tooth that pointed to the sky like a fang. Gone were the finite acres of the Yard, the expanse of green lawn between himself and the Turret. So were the reflections in the many elongated windows of the many floors. In their stead was endless green grass.
“Well, winter is upon us,” D.A.D. said. His voice was control. Always. Direction. Solution. Order. “Couldn’t even see the fang, hmm? No sign of the Parenthood at all. No sign of home.”
J thought of the yellow door on the roof, visible all the way from the Yard below. He thought of the solid orange bricks and how, on a summer day, the Turret resembled a sunrise.
“No,” he said, shaking his head, looking to the silent faces of the Inspectors, who quietly fingered the magnifying glasses at their belts. J understood now, as a twelve-year-old boy, something he hadn’t at eleven: The Inspections didn’t begin when the Inspectors used their glasses. It began the second you walked through the door.
“You must have been so scared,” D.A.D. continued. His voice was fatherhood. Administration. Always. “But, tell me, did you eventually find the Turret before waking?”
J was quiet a moment. He scratched at his right elbow with his left hand. He yawned a second time.
Hysteria, he thought again. He actually made fists, as if to knock the thought out of his head. Professor Gulch taught psychology and often stressed the many ways a boy’s mind might turn on itself: mania, attention deficit, persecution, dissociation from reality, depression, and hysteria. For J, it had all sounded like distant impossibilities. Conditions to be studied for the purpose of study alone. Certainly J wasn’t afraid of one day experiencing these states of mind himself. Yet here he was . . . twelve years old . . . and how else could he explain the new, unknown feelings he’d been having of late? What would Gulch call the sense of isolation, of being incomplete, when he looked out across the Yard, toward the entrance to the many rows of the Orchard? To where the Living Trees grew?
The boy recalled his childhood as though through a glass with residue of milk upon it. Unable to answer the simple question: Where do I come from?
Another Lawrence Luxley line. A real zinger, as Q would say.
But no, J thought, there in the Check-Up room. He wasn’t trying to answer that question at all. No boy had ever determined which of the cherry trees in the Orchard were the ones they had grown on. And as far as J knew, they were fine with that.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
After reading Bird Box I knew I had to get my hands on this new title by Josh Malerman. I thoroughly enjoyed his previous ones and this one lived up to the hype. While this was more a slow burn till the last quarter or so I was still majorly engrossed by his writing. I enjoyed the use of alphabets for the children and showing just how detached the "parents" stayed.This novel was very unique and outside the box. While not as fast paced as Bird Box I really enjoyed it and his world building leading up to a fantastic finish!!!
Rating: ★★★★★ Synopsis: J is a student at a school deep in a forest far away from the rest of the world. J is one of only twenty-six students, all of whom think of the school’s enigmatic founder as their father. J’s peers are the only family he has ever had. The students are being trained to be prodigies of art, science, and athletics, and their life at the school is all they know—and all they are allowed to know. But J suspects that there is something out there, beyond the pines, that the founder does not want him to see, and he’s beginning to ask questions. What is the real purpose of this place? Why can the students never leave? And what secrets is their father hiding from them? Meanwhile, on the other side of the forest, in a school very much like J’s, a girl named K is asking the same questions. J has never seen a girl, and K has never seen a boy. As K and J work to investigate the secrets of their two strange schools, they come to discover something even more mysterious: each other. Review: Thanks to Del Rey Books and the author for an advance review copy of Inspection in exchange for an honest review. Receiving this ARC in no way influenced my thoughts or opinions on the novel. But if there was one thing the Parenthood taught them, it was that a boy and a girl couldn’t be brave unless they were scared of something to begin with. I’m sure most of you have, by now, seen Bird Box on Netflix. It was only a world-wide phenomenon for the streaming service, a great depiction of a fantastic story, and an excuse for several people to blindfold themselves while doing daily tasks. But ask those of us who read the novel before a movie was even being discussed, and we would tell you what a magnificent work it was, how Malerman deserved a movie deal, and how we couldn’t wait to see what would come next from the author. Well, here is the next big thing in Malerman’s catalog. Though I enjoyed Unbury Carol and have yet to get to Black Mad Wheel, just the synopsis of Inspection had me hook, line, and sinker. And now, having binged through the novel over the past couple of days, I can safely say this is the author’s best work to date. The absolute originality of the story, the craftsmanship that went into holding my undivided attention, and the surreptitious reality of the characters’ situations blew me the f^*k away. Malerman’s use of the written word and the punctuation within paragraphs to fine-tune the pace, along with the capitalization of key words in certain situations just kept you wanting more. He had me at every turn, craving to know what happens next; buying time when possible to just read one more page. One more page…just one more. What happens, Warren wondered… when a man feels so much guilt that he must perform self-surgery, must remove it from his body? And what does that man do with it once it’s gone? And what does he do with the empty space? His world-building is claustrophobic yet there is this huge world yet to be explored, and the characters will have your emotions performing back-flips. Not since King’s The Loser’s Club has a group of kids had me so engaged in their story, their fight for survival and truth. I can continue on for days about how Inspection gave me the ride of my life, but I’ll just let you find out for yourself why this book is so special.
This was a very odd story about a man and woman who are conducting the experiment of a lifetime. They have two towers several miles apart in the remote countryside. Each tower started with 26 children. One tower with the boys and another with the the girls. They "couple" who are leading this "experiment" are referred to as M.O.M. and D.A.D. and both have raised the children to not know the existence of the opposite sex. They want to prove that know about the other sex stiffles their imagination and intelligence. The experiment has been going on for twelve years when things start to go terribly wrong. I found the story unique and quite interesting but not all that exciting. Until the end that is, then everything got crazy. I definitely would like to know more about what happened afterwards! Thank you to NetGalley for allowing me the chance to read this unique book.
This is my third Malerman book, and I've decided his books should come with a guarantee - the plot will be entirely original, and unlike anything you've read. It's a fascinating premise - raise children from infancy, seclude them from the outside world, educate them at an advanced rate, and control everything in their lives to include what they wear, read, eat, and do in their leisure time. All while making sure they're unaware of the opposite sex. You can't deny it's thought-provoking, and would certainly inspire some fascinating book club discussions. But what happens when the children learn they've been lied to their entire lives? Especially considering their advanced education and thought processes? Even though the childrens' world is limited, learning it took a bit of time - it's bizarre on one level, but practical on another. Malerman elevates common terminology to sinister levels - 'the Corner' and 'spoiled rotten' - and the inspections are just downright creepy and disturbing. D.A.D. and M.O.M. are psychologically demented and unbelievably narcissistic, and the reader is given insight as to how this inhumane experiment came to be. Some of their scenes are cringe-worthy and profoundly unsettling. Inspection is more of a slow burn horror novel, then jumps into light speed near the end - and this is an ending you don't want to miss. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the digital ARC.
4 Big Time Stars for ORIGINALITY! Like so many, I love love loved BIRD BOX, (both novel and movie) enjoyed THE HOUSE AT THE BOTTOM OF THE LAKE and UNBURY CAROL, and now after reading INSPECTION, one thing I know for sure is....with Josh Malerman, you never know what you're going to get! So cool...... "They deserve the truth." Malerman sets the stage by introducing the reader to a bizarre school of trusting young teens living in a secluded world of strict laws and fear of disease. One must ALWAYS stay clean and NEVER EVER become spoiled rotten or consequences could be fatal....with a trip down to T.H.E.C.O.R.N.E.R. Daily morning INSPECTIONS are invasive and bare all, but innocence turns surprisingly DARK when suspicions bring about dangerous adventures that expose a shocking world of lies. I prefer the even darker, more suspenseful side of Malerman best, (BIRD BOX) but sign me up for whatever he dreams up next!
I was so excited when I won this book from DelRey Publishing. I am familiar with Josh Malerman's name, as is everyone. But the little I had heard or read about this book made me believe I was going to enjoy it even more, because it sounded like a "coming of age" book, and I do like them. It's an interesting time in life to begin with, and a good writer can certainly play with the fears, misconceptions, etc. that plague that age group. One of my favorites, of course, is The Body. This book is so good that I just sat here for minutes trying to find that one word that would express what I'm trying to say. Astonishing? Exceptional? Awesome? It is all of those things, and more. I won't tell you anything about it because I don't need to. When you read the first sentence, you're already all in. After that, the tension and excitement just keep building. And then, you're given new information and while you are trying to formulate that, you're awed. Awed. And then when you're supposed to be cooking, or sleeping or something....well, you're still reading because you can't stop just yet. Seriously, I loved this book on so many levels. I won't be able to start a new one for a bit. I'm still in that world. It's about everything. Life and all it's parts are addressed within the story. In a completely one of a kind way. You just have to read it. I just saw that it is in stores today! Go get one!
Having read two other books by Josh Malerman, I was looking forward to reading Inspection, his most recent work. It has a very interesting premise in which children are separated by gender and are not even aware that another gender exists. Sadly, I just never connected with the story. I have to say that I didn’t finish this one. I know others have really enjoyed this story, but I just couldn’t stick with it long enough to find out how it ended. Many thanks to NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group-Ballantine for allowing me an advance copy to read and give my honest review.
Ahoy there me mateys! I have become a major fan of Malerman's work. Ye tend to always get interesting concepts, compelling characters, and ambiguous endings. This book had all of those things even if the execution was less than desired. The concept is that there are two towers in the wilderness set up for an experiment called the Parenthood. The goal is to raise children to the best of their potential with a focus on mathematics and the sciences. To do that the curriculum must be strictly adhered to. The distractions that must be avoided at all costs a) religion; and b) the opposite sex. The complete focus ended up being on gender. One tower is for boys and the other for girls - 26 of each gender and named after the letters of the alphabet. Raised from infants, these children have reached the age of 12 and puberty is on the horizon. The Parenthood is determined to protect their innocent charges from the ravages of their hormones. But what if these pre-teens start questioning their elders? The book is set up in four parts 1) the alphabets boys; 2) needs; 3) K; and 4) spoiled rotten. What is most interesting about this book to me was the structure. The first part relates the boys' life in the tower and ye are introduced to (boy) J. I actually really enjoyed J's perspectives and character and watching his journey was the most satisfying part of the book. In the second part ye be introduced to an adult in the facility who be having "the guilts" and is part of the propaganda writing machine. These are interspersed with (boy) J's doubts. I liked the juxtaposition of the two. The third part introduces the girl's side of things and how they are questioning their environment. I loved that the girl's are substantially further along than the boys in both education and rationale and are so practical in discovering answers. The girls resort to action and the boys don't. Nice change of the usual. And of course part four is where all hell breaks loose. There were major problems with the book's structure and plot. One is that the pacing is extremely slow, especially at the beginning. Because both the questions and answers are handed out piecemeal, the flow of the writing was impeded in multiple parts. Two, I thought the motivation of all the adults were rudimentary at best. Only the "M.O.M.", "D.A.D.", and two novelists really have any personality even if it was cliche. All the others are lost in the background, basically nameless, and rather pointless. Third, I thought that even the concept of gender was dealt with in the most arbitrary and surface way. For example, all the children are assumed to be heteronormative. It would have been nice to have some nuance to sexual development in an arena where sex as a concept has been avoided altogether. And some things were just plain stupid. Boy meets girl for the first time and basically immediately start kissing and making out. Life altering facts have been discovered, they are complete strangers, and yet they take a break and jump right into bed. Bleck. Four, from the makeout session the plot literally spiraled into almost a farce of ridiculousness. Believability and reality went right out the window. It made me laugh but I don't think that was the intention. All those problems aside, I got what I love Malerman's works - cool ideas that make me think. So I am very grateful to the publisher for me review copy. I will be reading the next book from Malerman. Arrrrr!