title: The Children Act
author: Ian McEwan
release date: april 9th, 2015
publisher: Vintage (imprint Penguin Random House)
I had been eyeing this book ever since I saw the trailer of the movie (starring Fionn Whitehead, I am so ready!). So when I stumbled upon it for the umpteenth time while in a bookshop this weekend I decided to treat myself and get a copy. Two days later I finished reading the novel and while writing this review, I am still not sure how I feel about this book.
The characters in this book were quite inconsistent in my opinion. Some were well-written, deep and relatable. Whereas others had absolutely no depth to them and were in my mind irrelevant to the story.
Let’s start with our main character and protagonist, Fiona Maye. She is a leading High Court judge (whatever that means) and is having trouble in her marriage. She also struggles with the responsibility she carries over the lives of the people in her court. At first, I quite enjoyed her as a character, but as the story progressed I found her to become less likable with each page. Her decisions bothered me a lot, I get that she is supposed to be a flawed character in order to feel like a real person but some of her actions truly didn’t sit well with me.
Fiona’s husband Jack, I feel is the only other major character in this story and I have to say even he felt flat to me. It wasn’t just the side characters who weren’t fleshed out very well. Jack
By far the best part of this book was Adam Henry. Hands down. He was such a joy to read about, his dialogue was witty and he felt very realistic. To be really honest, his parts were the only parts I liked reading. He added something different to the otherwise rather boring narrative. I found his personality enjoyable yet not too over-the-top. His intelligence, although advanced, wasn’t unrealistic for a boy his age. He was by far the most interesting character in this book.
Besides Adam, I also quite enjoyed reading about the court case concerning his health. Both perspectives were articulated and the dilemma at hand really makes you think. Unfortunately the trail wasn’t as big a part of the story as I was expecting. And the verdict was predictable and felt rushed.
My first dislike ties in with what I liked about this book, namely Adam. It really bothered me how little we got to see of him, his character is introduced quite late in the book considering how important he is to the story. And when we do finally get to see him, we only get a page or two before he’s gone. Meanwhile, we have to suffer through countless pages of Fiona’s inner dialogue and her personal issues which I didn’t give a shit about… I also would have liked to see more of the actual trial concerning Adam’s blood-transfusion. Again, considering the importance that trail played in this story I would have expected it to have a larger part.
This last part of my dislikes spoils the ending of the book, so if you have not yet read The Children Act and do not wish to be spoiled, please skip ahead to my final thoughts.
I didn’t love Fiona to begin with but I really lost all respect for her when she kissed (KISSED!!!) Adam, A TEENAGE BOY WHO LOOKS UP TO HER, and then continued to not explain herself, apologize or even acknowledge his existence! She was in a position of power, she was also well aware of his feelings towards her and yet she, a 59-year-old woman, decides to kiss him anyway. I do not care if you have issues with your husband and haven’t kissed him in God knows how long and you feel a closeness with this boy. You just don’t do that. But get this, that is not even the thing that bothered me most. It could have been played off as an accident, he turned his head, their lips met, she could and should have pulled away right that second. Everything would have been fine and dandy. But no! She lingers, fantasises about the kiss and when the boy, not knowing what to make of his feelings, reaches out to her SHE IGNORED HIM! In turn making him commit suicide. I can’t even properly explain how disgusting that situation is.
Do you think you have to suffer to be a good poet?
I think all great poets must suffer.
Overall, I have very mixed feelings about this book. Some parts were very interesting, whereas others were either unbearably boring or utterly disgusting… I do still plan on going to see the movie because I am curious as to how this narrative will translate to screen.
Have you read this book? Let me know your thoughts on it down below!