I was really excited to read The Fallen Children – I’ve heard a lot about John Wyndam’s The Midwich Cuckoos, so I liked the idea of a modern retelling.
From the blurb:
Young people on the Midwich Estate don’t have much hope for their futures. Keisha has lived there her whole life, and has been working hard to escape it; others have just accepted their lot.
But change is coming…
One night everyone inside Midwich Tower falls mysteriously unconscious in one inexplicable ‘Nightout’. No one can explain what happened during those lost hours, but soon afterwards Keisha and three other girls find they’re pregnant – and the babies are growing at an alarming rate.
As the news spreads around the tower its residents turn against them and the situation spirals toward violence. Keisha’s life unravels as she realises that the pregnancy may not have just ruined her hopes for the future: she might be mother to the end of the world.
The Fallen Children is a story of violation, of judgment and of young people who must fight to defy what is expected of them.
Keisha, Maida and Siobhan are three teenagers who live at Midwich Towers, a grotty estate.
Keisha was a bit of a bad girl, but a year ago made the decision to change her ways, after almost getting expelled from school. Keisha dreams of going to university and streams her gaming, asking for donations to her university fund from her viewers.
Maida lives above Keisha with her devout Muslim parents. Her father is always worried about her going off the rails, and keeps a close watch over all her activities. Maida feels trapped and wants to make her own decisions about her life.
Siobhan used to be Keisha’s best friend, and they used to get up to lots of shenanigans on the estate with their neighbour and Keisha ex-boyfriend Morris. When Keisha decided to turn over a new leaf, and it was clear Siobhan wasn’t interested in doing the same, Keisha ended their friendship, leaving Siobhan heartbroken.
Morris has left school, but hasn’t been able to find a job. He rather stupidly “borrowed” £3,000 from his former friend turned drug dealer Tyrone, and doesn’t have the money to pay him back. Morris sent a chunk of the money to his dad in Nigeria, bought some suits for interviews, and put money towards his nan’s nursing home.
Tyrone is threatening to beat the crap out of Morris unless he works for him, or pays back the money he owes, plus extortionate interest.
One night Tyrone corners Morris with two of his mates, but something strange happens; a weird force field comes over the Tower, and everyone in the vicinity passes out.
Inside the building, everyone is asleep, and something takes advantage of the three unconscious girls, and their neighbour Olivia.
The next day, all four girls are vomiting bright blue liquid and feel wrong. It becomes clear that they were raped by something or someone, and they have been impregnated.
The pregnancies are not normal, the foetuses growth is accelerated to a rate of 2 weeks per day, and the girls begin to fear that their babies may be evil…
I’m going to start by saying I loved the science fiction elements of the story. I’m not sure how much of the plot was carried over from John Wyndam’s novel, and how much was from the mind of David Owen. I have the original book, so I’m going to read that to do a compare and contrast.
Despite the excellent sci-fi elements, I gave this book 2/5 stars on Goodreads. I hated the characters and the social message being pushed by the author.
The characters were the most unlikeable, whiney, stupid teenagers ever created.
Keisha infuriated me. She constantly moaned that people prejudged her, and expected her to get pregnant because of her social situation, but then made no attempt to defend herself or fight to change their views.
Morris leant money from a drug dealer, refused to pay it back or work it off, and then expected sympathy. I don’t even know why he borrowed the money, except to look like a hard man in front of his dad on Skype. The whole thing was ridiculous. In the entirety of the book he didn’t seem to make an effort to get a job, just turned up at the job centre every two weeks to sign on.
When Keisha gets pregnant Morris is way too into it. It’s disturbing. He refers to the baby as his child, and behaves as though they are instantly a family, but still doesn’t make an effort to step up.
I hated this book. Hated it. I saw no evidence of the characters fighting to defy expectations, beyond Keisha studying in the first few chapters. I mean, studying is what you’re supposed to do when you’re at school… right? Baffling.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments.