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This is a review of the 1999 book 'Out of Nowhere' by Gerard Whelan. It is a young adult fiction book but I loved the sound of the write up so swapped for it on readitswapit website. I would describe this book as 28 Days Later meets the Demon Headmaster mixed with Survivors and Men in Black! If that hasn't got your interest then this book probably isn't for you.
The links (and a bit about...)
Stephen (aged 16) wakes up in a monastery with no memory of his life except for his name. <28 Days Later> the monks cared for him over the past few days having found him wandering alone outside and confused. One of the Monks is tall and possessed <Demon Headmaster> with an obsession of guns and Stephen is not sure if he is a friend or foe. Only animals are alive in the Irish area that they are in and the four monks, four very mentally ill patients and Stephen and Kirsten, (a girl who is in similar circumstances to Stephen). A car of men in suits <Men in Black> arrive in town and have the ability to heal and erase people's memories but are they here to protect or harm the Monks, Stephen and Kirsten? Finally, the small group go on a foraging trip locally to source food <Survivors> and library books but their trip holds a few surprises.
The book was a great read and I spent the whole time trying to work out what was going to happen in the end. A review on Amazon promised 'a great surprise' and I just couldn't guess the outcome. I sped through the book at a rate of knots and despite it being YA fiction, I didn't notice that so much.
I can see this book would have made a great children's drama. It holds a lot of suspense and has all the potential to keep readers guessing what on earth is going on. The Monks tell the children that they are the only people left in the world now.
Set in Ireland, the background is explained a few chapters in to the book, giving more detail on how the government call a meeting of worldwide leaders and experts to look into why a bubble zone is placed around this particular part of the country. Unbeknownst to the people in the Monastary the rest of the world continues in its daily life with a lot of interest about the inpenetrable force which surrounds the special zone. The Government do not get very far in their plan, they spend more time arguing, discussing, eating and sleeping in their underground bunker. Meanwhile people are arriving in Ireland daily to visit the bubble as an unexplained attraction.
Each chapter is short and titled, giving the book a good structure for young readers. You wonder about the relationship between the two youngsters. Are they just friends or is there a relationship forming? Stephen seems protective over Kirsten and the two provide each other with a lot of support during this scary time in their lives.
The book covers just a week in time, during which a lot happens. They are full of unanswered questions (as is the reader) and trying to establish what is happening to them and why they are special and being singled out in this silent world. As they have no memory they do not mourn the loss of any parents or siblings nor do they wonder much about their past.
This book is the epitome of the sort of thing I really enjoy reading and whilst it was for young adults, I still enjoyed reading it. I would have liked a little more in content but understand it had to be pitched for children and would have been enough for them to get their heads around.
In the book, the chapters jump around between the two children and the men in suits and a bit on the underground bunker. It gives a few different angles and I won't spoil the ending for you in this review but it wasn't one I felt was very satisfactory and it got a little complicated in its explanation. Perhaps I was trying to read a little too deeply into the book though!
I was expecting a lot, maybe too much from this book and whilst I enjoyed reading it I was left a little disappointed by the end of it and would say that the write up sounds a lot better than the actual book is. The first chapter is filled with so much potential and towards the end I was quite relieved that the finish line was in sight.