This review is from: The Cement Garden (Paperback)
Re-reading The Cement Garden after several years, one is struck by two things. Firstly, what a darkly compelling little novel it is, with its portrayal of a nightmare situation as something almost ordinary in nature. Secondly, what a tightly constructed piece of storytelling it is - way better than anything McEwan has done since.
The book is practically perfect in its construction, with a bleak, queasy world unfolding before our eyes, as told through the teenage Jack. In so many ways it is like an updated Lord of The Flies, with its shocking breakdown in social order, and acceptance of strange behaviour as the norm. In this respect, McEwan pretty much sets out the blueprint for other "shocker" novels like this that followed, such as Iain Banks' debut The Wasp Factory.
This is superior to that in many ways - the lean nature of the storytelling, the poetic language used to sketch out an ever darkening and decaying world in which the characters wander; the gentle power of the conclusion. With later books, McEwan always seems to run out of ideas right at the end - but here the mood is sustained right to the very end. As other reviewers have commented - a modern masterpiece. Haunting, horrible, brilliant.