The Death House by Sarah Pinborough (Spoilers)(4 Posts)
I've just finished it today, and although I enjoyed it I did wonder about quite a lot afterwards.
What was the defect they had? It was never properly explained as far as I can tell. They found it in their blood, but they all had it at different ages and apparently would have been okay after the age of eighteen.
This was clear because some of the children in the house were much younger than others, and Tom made a big point of saying he was "seventeen...and a half" when they asked his age, and they all sympathised because in six months more he would have been safe.
It also showed it's symptoms in different ways, so what was it? Why would one bruise, and one develop shaking limbs, and another lose sensation and urinate blood, and another have cold-like symptoms? What would cause all those different symptoms but still be the same defect?
And why did they think it would turn them into something? That kept being hinted at and outright discussed at one point "if you change first I will shoot you and then myself." Change into what?
And it seemed to be in the future. They said they hadn't had snow in England for over a hundred years. Even if they weren't in England anymore, if it hasn't snowed in England in over a hundred years then how far in the future are they? And does that matter?
They say the defect almost destroyed us at one point. But now it's not as common. What is it? When is it? What did it do in the past?
And what happens in the sanatorium? Do they just die? Are they kept alive and taken away? Are they killed? Are they observed as they change and then taken away or killed? Why aren't they killed as soon as they are tested positive? What's the point in keeping them for weeks in the Death House anyway? What do they do with the bodies?
I feel a bit frustrated that we have no idea, or if we do then I've missed a lot of the book. The more I've wondered about it, the more frustrated I've felt at not knowing.
So if anyone knows or has theories, I'd be glad to hear them.
If you've read the whole book and you still have this many questions, then there's something wrong with the writing, not the reader.
I've been digging about a bit to try and find answers, and nobody seems to be any the wiser than I am.
The only thing people agree on is that it is set in the near future.
Other than that nobody really knows anything more than I do.
I'm sure it was written like this on purpose, but it's really annoying me now.
I don't think it's set in the aftermath of a nuclear war, everything still feels to stable and normal for that.
And if it were chemical or biological, I don't think they'd be calling it a defect, it would be more of a virus surely?
And they wouldn't say the defect almost wiped them out, they'd say the attack did, or the accident did, or the virus did.
I'd still like to know where they are in the world. They still seem to think they are in England, although maybe on an island off the coast. And it has to be North as they saw the Northern lights.
But they could be in Scotland or even further north. Which means it's irrelevant that it hasn't snowed in England, if they're not here.
I think the point about it not snowing in England for 100 years was made to put the date of the story in the future, possibly also to explain why none of the children had seen snow before, but if you are making a point surely you ought to give a reason for making it.
I can live with not knowing exactly where they are though, because the children themselves didn't know where they were.
But I feel really annoyed that nobody knows what the defect is, what it does, or why the children die so quickly once diagnosed. If they do die, because nobody seems sure about that either.
Even the children speculate about what happens, so whatever it is, it's not common knowledge even though the defect has obviously been around for many years.
And nobody knows why the children are taken to a Death House in the middle of nowhere to die, rather than just killed or kept in hospital closer to home until they die there.
I did like the book, the writing was good even though details are very thin on the ground. But I couldn't recommend it to anyone when I have this many unanswered questions about it.
Whilst I don't mind a few loose threads at the end of a book, that sounds like a ridiculous amount and to me, that's poor writing. I know Sarah is prolific, but that's just bad writing.
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