As a huge fan of John Wyndham I was intrigued to see what David Owen would do with this Midwich Cuckoos inspired young adult novel. The thing about the original Midwich was its close-knit community, where the village rallied round to help the mysteriously pregnant women. Sadly in this contemporary council estate setting, there is nothing of the sort.
When the residents of Midwich Towers fall asleep simultaneously, Keisha is streaming (on something similar to Twitch) and her viewers witness it but switch off before they can see her being dragged away from the camera. In the end, four young women become pregnant, three of whom are teenagers. You can imagine the assumptions people will make about these teen pregnancies from the estate.
A teenage girl who isn’t ready, who should have been able to do better than this, who let herself down. Except that’s not quite right and I force myself towards the truth of it: they see exactly what they expect of a girl like me.
The Fallen Children explores how difficult it is for young people to escape their circumstances. In part this is shown through the reactions to the pregnancies, but also through Keisha’s ex who borrowed money from the estate’s drug dealer to better himself and the alien children themselves. They are good kids but people expect the worst from them just because of where they live.
It touches on the violation of these girls and how they feel no one will believe them. Whilst the characters react to their offspring differently, there is a lack of connection for some. How do you love the child born out of rape? Never mind that they might not be human. It reflects the experience of young mothers in general, who might not be ready for the responsibility or prepared for the practicalities of raising a child.
I can’t be to blame for how he turns out. It can’t be my responsibility. I was born in the block, and it trapped me into this life. My attempts to escape were futile.
Maida is a young Muslim girl who feels empowered when she realises what the children can do. I think it goes to her head a bit. Unfortunately her influence, combined with a lack of motherly love from another, ends up doing more damage than good. Children are somewhat a product of their environment but a good parent should lead them in the right direction. There is a scene near the ends which is so powerful and moving. Poor Zero, is all I can say without spoilers.
I found it a little slow to get going but loved it by the end. The different narrative voices aren’t that distinct so it took we a while to differentiate the characters. I’m not sure we really needed the story line about the inappropriate teacher either.
Oh yeah, and this book has been released with 360 different colour variations of the cover! Go forth and find your favourite now.
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Book Source: Purchased
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