Halloween Reads : Youth In Revolt

Me too, Gerard… Me too.

Children are a staple of horror fiction. Be they victims, corrupted vessels or just a perfect way for evil to go undetected by disguising itself in something seemingly innocent. Typically it is the very young who provide the inspiration for us ladies to want to set our ovaries on fire, but this time I want to take a look at their older, wiser and far more terrifying, teenage counterparts.

we-need-to-talk-about-kevin-book-coverWe Need To Talk about Kevin by Lionel Shriver

Privileged, handsome, intelligent young man goes on a murderous rampage through his high school just because he can, we could call this Patrick Bateman: The Early Years. Unlike most fictional psychopaths -adult and child alike- Kevin just has no justification for his crimes. He isn’t bullied or abused, he doesn’t ‘snap’, he’s just born nasty, with a seemingly ingrained resentment for the whole world. But even though he exhibits the coldest, most inhuman behaviors directed initially at those who love him the most even from the earliest age, the notion that a child could just be born hateful made me continuously try to find ways to blame his long suffering mother for his actions, as if that would make it okay. How awful is that? It’s just disturbing from beginning to end.

IMG_8925The Fifth Child

Born to parents who have always wanted a large family and home filled with joy and laughter, Ben their fifth child, crashes the party with his peculiar demeanor, creepy eyes and apparent hatred of his mother that begins to rear its ugly head before he’s even born. Commitment, or what? He’s naughty and violent and a pretty accurate representation of any mother’s worst nightmare, in which you can’t ever tell if his behavior is the cause of their failure to bond or the result of it.

567678Wasp Factory by Iain Banks

In this one, our bright, young psychopath is a boy named Frank, who carries out his acts of violence in a series of staged ‘accidents’ whenever the opportunity arises, which is evidently rather regularly considering he lives on an island, quite far from human contact. He spends his days maintaining his weapons and traps he’s set up around the island, brutalizing small animals, building a kind of machine that tortures and kills wasps in order to supposedly predict the future and occasionally murdering his relatives. But unlike …Kevin, Frank may have an underlying cause for his madness, being raised by a distant and incredibly secretive father, his birth undocumented and his existence relatively unknown, his brother locked away in a mental institution and his mother out of the picture, Frank’s developed sense of identity is in a constant state of flux. It’s a gripping but deeply unpleasant book. You wont be able to put it down.


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