Paul Jennings – The Nest

Paul Jennings – The Nest

“I suddenly feel apprehensive as my words turn to smoke and curl up the chimney.
Does my story hold the answer?”

Jennings’ first foray into young adult fiction is an alluring mix of realism, fairytale and horror – a cross which enhances the unsettling mix of innocence and darkness in Robin.
Robin is on the cusp of manhood, and in some ways is very normal. He goes to school, tries to sort out his feelings for two very different girls, and works for his Dad fixing emergency rescue snow mobiles on the snow slopes of Victoria. However, his imagination is dark. Robin gets flashes, like champagne corks popping, or snakes striking, of himself and his father engaged in violent and brutal fights. He questions his sanity. Most of all he questions his father, and what he did to drive his mother away.

On the downside, the narrative is occasionally predictable, and Robin often self-consiously naïve. The allegories are fairly transparent. Some of the horror elements stick a little strangely to the realism, but the ending is so shocking that it eclipses all the little kinks in this book for teens that Jennings will surely iron out for his next YA novel.

There is Jennings’ usual twist of humour in the form of the allegorical stories Robin writes. There are some very surreal moments in the book as well. Almost a murder mystery, almost a fable, verging on (but never quite grasping) reality, The Nest is a fast-paced enigma from the master of many much loved funny, creepy, weird, tricky short stories and novels for children.

(The Nest by Paul Jennings, isbn:9780143008002, published by Penguin, $19.95)

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~ by ConsanguineousMind on March 7, 2009.

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