Review: The Nest

Publication: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers 
Genre: Fantasy, Magical Realism
Format: Hardcover, 256 pages
Add this on: Goodreads

Steve is worried. He's worried about his baby brother, whose congenital birth defects mean constant illness. He's worried about his parents trying to handle it. He's worried about the wasp nest outside of the baby's window. But then the wasp queen appears in his dream, offering to fix his brother, promising to make all those worries go away, and all he has to do is say yes.

I quite enjoyed this one. I generally really enjoy Kenneth Oppel's writing, though I was a little underwhelmed by The Boundless. This one, though, I liked a lot. It is labelled as Middle Grade, but it is definitely enjoyable by older audiences looking for a strange, quick read.

Steve is a character that you don't really see all that often in protagonists for Middle Grade novels, in that he's serious, introverted, and struggles with anxiety. It isn't something you typically see explored in younger protagonists, and I really appreciated seeing it. It is something that makes this book is as much an internal plot as an external one, and adds a lot of complexity to what would otherwise be a fairly simple plot. This is a novel that I can easily see twelve-year-old Kelly reading.

This is a strange little book. I would probably describe it as magical realism- set in the real world, but with a magical or surreal element. In this case, that element was the wasps that offer to "fix" Steve's baby brother. As with most bargains with supernatural beings, the agreement isn't what it seems, and soon it takes a turn for the dark and dangerous. Its such a bizarre concept, and makes for a very interesting reading experience.

The way this book is packaged is beautiful (plastic dust jacket, patterned under the cover), but I'm of two minds on the illustrations. Though they added some visual interest, they weren't really to my personal taste. I don't think I would have missed them, but, that said, they do contribute a bit to the atmosphere. They're more eerie than illustrations you would typically find in a MG novel.

Overall, this book is a little strange and a little dark, a unique Middle Grade novel with a refreshing protagonist, and I would love to see more books along the same lines.
author image

Kelly

I'm a reader and reviewer from Ontario, Canada, which mean that sometimes library trips take place place through a foot or so of snow. I'm going into my third year of university, studying Environmental Sciences, which I juggle with my almost constant reading. I've been blogging at at my own blog since 2012, and I'll be helping Yani out here on Paper Boulevard as a co-blogger.
Kelly

I'm a reader and reviewer from Ontario, Canada, which mean that sometimes library trips take place place through a foot or so of snow. I'm going into my third year of university, studying Environmental Sciences, which I juggle with my almost constant reading. I've been blogging at my own blog and I'll be helping Yani out here on Paper Boulevard as a co-blogger.

13 comments

  1. I work at a bookstore and I keep seeing parents buying this one for their children during my shifts. I'm kind of intrigued by it just because of that. I'm glad you liked this one Kelly!

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    1. I'm glad to hear that its been selling well, I think its really valuable to have books like it for Middle Grade readers (and it has such a lovely cover, too...)

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  2. I like magical realism, this does sound unique.

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    1. I don't think I've read anything quite like it before, especially not intended for younger readers. Magical realism is quite enjoyable, and I'd definitely like to read more of it!

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  3. I don't read a lot of MD but it's true that it's something quite atypical

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    1. It really isn't like anything else I've read. It's such a strange idea- baby and bizarre magic wasps. If you're looking for something unlike any other MG novel, this would definitely be a good one.

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  4. This book sounds so different and unique... I'm not used to reading Middle Grade stories, but this one makes me so curious...I might have to check it out sometime! :)

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    1. It is definitely a unique read- not only does the magical realism of the wasps makes it very strange, but our hero is unusual for a MG novel as well. It makes for a really interesting reading experience, and one well worth checking out if you're interested.

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  5. Ohhh, I want to try this badly now!! I haven't really ever read an MG that actually acknowledges anxiety like this, so need it. Plus I do like some fabulous magical realism. XD I'm definitely off to add this one on Goodreads!!
    Thanks for stopping by @ Paper Fury!

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    1. It is definitely fairly unique in its hero- he's struggled with anxiety a long time, and it is definitely shown as something that is very present in his life. I found it well done, because though it really is present, it doesn't completely define who Steve is.

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  6. I absolutely love magical realism but I don't think I've ever read an MG magical realism novel. This sounds like a fascinating read, and I love books with illustrations in them, even though they weren't to your liking. It's also rare to see an MG character deal with anxiety, so I'm excited to see how this book plays out.
    Jenna @ Happy Indulgence

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    1. This one definitely seems like new ground for Middle Grade. I haven't seen magical realism in MG aside from this one, and anxiety is definitely something that doesn't often appear. I'm looking forward to hearing what you think of it!

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  7. Nice review. I haven't heard of this one before, but magical realism is a genre I generally really enjoy. Can't wait to read it.

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