Jess Moulson is an addict. It used to be she was only hurting herself but during one of her highs she set fire to her flat and the resulting blaze killed a 10 year old boy. She’s sent to Fellside maximum security prison, riddled with guilt and hoping for an early death. But once there she starts to have visions of the little boy, and he tells her his death wasn’t as it seemed. Is this her own mind talking or is there something to it?
Like many, I loved The Girl with all the Gifts and was excited to read more from the author, but I did not finish this one. I don’t like to write reviews when I’ve given up on the book, but given I got almost 200 pages into this one I figure it’s ok. I’ll read an extra one to make up for it.
I had many issues with the book, but the most significant was that it’s dull. And far too long. You’ve got a prison full of the usual bad folk and drug smuggling and guards on the take and a bit of paranormal activity going on for good measure. It should be a page turner, and yet it was a chore to pick it up every time. And I could only manage small chunks before giving in again. Part of the issue is that Jess is not a dynamic character, and she also disappears for parts of it as the omniscient narrator tells us (in minute, unnecessary detail) about all the other goings on and inmates/staff within the prison. So any tension that is building around her dissipates for long periods before you’re back with her again. And she has no real agency, or at least not at where I got to, so it’s hard to care what happens to her.
Overall it just doesn’t feel very fresh or interesting, definitely not in the way The Girl with all the Gifts was. Other than the possible ghost aspect it’s a straightforward prison story except the characters don’t come close to making up for that. Glad I bought it at a discount.