Most helpful critical review
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Original, fascinating and slightly dystopian
on 8 March 2009
A fascinating novel, with original themes, written skillfully. 'The Child In Time' has a slightly dystopian feel, set in a UK with a Big Brother-ish government. The protagonist is Stephen Lewis, a children's author whose own daughter was kidnapped three years before the main story is set. The major theme is childhood, and the way in which children perceive time. As such the story mixes intellectual elements of storyline to do with the nature of time, with Stephen's emotional journey to cope with the loss of his child.
There is something oddly disjointed about the book which gives it a rather spooky, surreal feeling. Elements of it really don't ring true - the character of Charles Darke, for one, others being the ease in which Stephen walks into a primary school unchallenged and the relative lack of furore over the kidnap of Kate - given the massive media interest that usually gets shown in such cases. I also wasn't entirely convinced by the ending.
That said, it's a bold idea and its freshness and originality are to be applauded. McEwan does write well, rarely becoming overly intellectual despite the nature of some of his themes. This is a complex book and one that I imagine would be good to study for English Literature. It's also not a bad casual read either.