The Nest by Kenneth Oppel and illustrated by Jon Klassen has to be the strangest, most unsettling book that I have read this year. There had been lots of hype leading up to its release and there were starred reviews popping up all over the place, so I had to read it and find out why. When you have two very talented storytellers like Kenneth Oppel and Jon Klassen collaborating on a book it is bound to stand out.
My first thoughts on looking at the book and flicking through were that it was a wonderful production. The cover, with the transparent dust jacket, is stunning and Jon Klassen’s black and white illustrations inside give the book a suitably eerie feeling. This feeling became stronger as I started to read Kenneth’s story.
The first time I saw them, I thought they were angels.
The baby is sick. Mom and Dad are sad. And all Steve has to do is say, Yes to fix everything. But yes is a powerful word. It is also a dangerous one. And once it is uttered, can it be taken back? Treading the thin line between dreams and reality, Steve is stuck in a nightmare he can’t wake up from and that nobody else understands. And all the while, the wasps’ nest is growing, and the ‘angel’ keeps visiting Steve in the night.
Reading The Nest was like slipping into a strange dream that I just had to see through until the end. It unsettled me and made me shiver but I had to know how it ended. I really felt for Steve and his predicament. His parents are distracted with his baby brother and he just wants his brother to be healthy so that his parents have time for him. Steve is given the chance to make his brother healthy and all he has to do is say yes. If I was in Steven’s situation I probably would have done exactly the same thing. The story is tense right from the start but Kenneth Oppel ramps it up until right at the end of the book. I didn’t know how it was going to end but it was satisfying.
I know that adults will enjoy this book but I’m not sure what children I would recommend it to. It would be best for children who like dark stories or maybe even fairy tales. It would probably work well as a read aloud in a class, as there could be a lot of discussion about it.
Check out the book trailer below and you can read an excerpt here.