Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Book Review: Suffer the Children

Suffer the Children
Suffer the Children by Craig DiLouie
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I received a copy of the book through NetGalley in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

The story begins with a pediatrician who decides that he should provide some free pre-natal care in order to grow his practice. He hopes that the expectant mothers will choose him as the pediatrician for their child once born. David, the pediatrician, works with his wife Nadine. They lost their son to an accident and, though David wants to go on with life, Nadine seems to be trapped into endless grieving.

As the couple is having lunch with another couple (friends), they notice that there is something going on as the television screen in the restaurant they were eating in was broadcasting some terrible news. Soon there was a commotion and people screaming.

Children seem to be dying and fast. Young children are dropping like flies and parents are distraught and shocked at how their healthy children can just die in front of their very eyes. Everywhere children are dying and before explanations can be found, bodies need to be taken care of and buried properly. But with parents shocked, grieving, and distraught, very few people are back at their jobs and keeping things running. The "Herod Event" happened everywhere. No child is immune. Not even those still in the womb.

As parents start to come to terms with the loss of their beloved children, they are again in for a great shock. The children have risen up from their resting places and are back, seemingly alive. Happiness is short-lived as the children again "go to sleep." Then some parents figure out that the children need blood to "live." Blood, ingested, keeps them alive for a few hours and then they "sleep" again. Everything starts to unravel as parents can't keep giving the children blood without endangering their own lives.

After a while, blood becomes the most precious commodity there is. Every parent wants it for their child. Soon, as parents become too weak from blood loss, the children start fending for themselves. But what happens when all the blood runs out? Will parents start to turn on each other? What happens when the children no longer have parents to "feed" them?

Suffer the Children is a horrifying tale. Having said that, I will have to mention that, as I was reading the book, I was reminded of the book Night of the Purple Moon by Scott Cramer. In that book, all the adults die leaving only the children who also die when they reach puberty. Another book that I am reminded of is the one written by Michael Grant entitled Gone. In Gone, all the adults disappeared leaving only the children to fend for themselves and the kids would disappear as they reach a certain age. In Suffer the Children, it is the children that "die" leaving only the adults but there is something almost similar about the three books.

As much as I enjoyed reading Suffer the Children, the story starts to fall flat after the first few chapters. The narrative is chilling and disturbing as parents become crazed about how they could keep their children "alive." But, everything starts to grow old after a few chapters. There are also elements missing that would have helped the story evolve.

Plus all the parents seem to be sooooo happy to get their kids back though the bodies of the kids are so obviously decaying. It appears no one is really terrified of those zombie kids -- they were dead and buried, hence the term zombies. Parents are just so happy to take them home though they smell awful with rot. Well not all of them are soooo rotted -- but you get the picture.

So the kids are now bloodsuckers and they need blood every few hours with parents resorting to crazier and crazier schemes just to get the blood their kids needs. I cannot, for the life of me, understand why there are no sane heads among those parents at all. As much as I know about how far parents are willing to go for their kids, I also know that there are a lot of parents out there who do have cooler heads and are very much able to stay on a saner plane even when all hell breaks loose -- there aren't any in the book. Even the pediatrician who tries his best to be "logical" is somewhat weak and as insane as his nutcase of a wife.

The book's cover is misleading. There are no mad "Chucky" dolls or any doll in the story. And it is not really a horror novel -- at least, not for me. I would definitely give the book more stars if things just didn't go so flat in the middle (and I mean a really big number of pages).

It was a chore and a major effort to finish reading the book but I do realize that there are a lot of people who may actually enjoy it. An okay read if you keep the thinking to the absolute minimum and just lose yourself in the narrative.

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Posted by: Bames Pabla
Bames Live, Updated at: 3:13 PM