- Hardcover: 288 pages
- Publisher: Gollancz (26 Feb. 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1473202329
- ISBN-13: 978-1473202320
- Product Dimensions: 14.2 x 2.6 x 22.4 cm
- Average Customer Review: 109 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 665,993 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Death House Hardcover – 26 Feb 2015
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shocking and gripping, albeit ultimately hopeful and utterly moving, and it's Sarah Pinborough's finest novel to date (Sci-Fi Now)
A bleak but compulsive tale...The Death House could be her finest novel yet (The Big Issue)
The Death House is a stunning novel, and a harsh reminder that our lives are simply fragile, fleeting, heart-breaking and most likely destined to end long before we want (Starburst)
First things first: Sarah Pinborough's latest novel, The Death House, made me cry...The Death House is the best book you'll read in 2015, guaranteed, and Sarah Pinborough cements her place as one of our finest living novelists (Reader Dad)
The Death House is a dazzlingly emotional account of growing up, death and bits in between as well as an early contender for the book of the year (Upcoming 4 Me)
The Death House is something completely different and doesn't fall into one definite category. There are many thoughts underlying the storyline but the most prominent ones are an extraordinary love story...it won't let you go without breaking your heart (The Book Plank)
The attraction of The Death House is its tragedy. This book is bleak and horrible and you will love it (Geek Native)
The Death House was a marvel of a read, beautifully emotional, so terribly addictive that I read it in one afternoon and just as a warning, will stomp all over your heart and make it bleed (Liz Loves Books)
Death becomes her - Sarah Pinborough's most powerful work to date (Sf Bulletin)
The Fault in Our Stars for the dystopian fan?....brilliantly written and moving, this is definitely recommended (Civilian Reader)
A heart-breaking, heart-stopping tale of love, life and death which will take your breath away.See all Product description
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However I was completely blown away. I found it to be a beautifully written story, detailing the emotional fragility of the children involved.
(also as I was a teenage bride at 17 - so many moons ago) I found this reminded me in some way of the innocence of falling in love in youth.
I found the ending very moving & sad. I don't think this will be a novel I forget in a hurry!
I have read 133 novels so far this year and the 2 by Sarah Pinborough place her firmly in my top 3 favourite authors! (no bigger recommendation than that!)
Kids’ blood is being tested and when they are found to have a certain genetic defect, they are sent away. Our main character is one of those kids who arrives at a big house on an island after his blood test came back positive. This is not a voluntary decision though, kids are literally taken from their parents, whether they want to come with or not. They also don’t know where they are being brought, only that kids who are taken never return.
It is kept very vague what the genetic defect actually does. It is only hinted at throughout the book, but it seems to be linked to events in the past and this kidnapping thing is a sort of prevention to stop it from happening again. The house has several kids, all divided over dorms. Whenever one of them gets ill they know that person will be taken to the elevator and brought to the top floor very soon. They don’t know what happens there, kids who get ill just get taken during the night, wheeled in the elevator and never come back. The symptoms are never the same, so people are never sure when they are actually ill from their genetic defect or if they’ve just caught a bug. This brings a lot of uncertainty and fear, but also denial and hope.
These are kids we’re talking about and even in their circumstances they will try to shift everything into a simpler situation. That’s why a sort of rivalry between the different dorms happens. Toby’s dorm is the only dorm that hasn’t had anyone taken yet and he wears it as a badge of honour. He frequently clashes with the leader of another dorm, especially when another batch of kids arrive and this time a beautiful girl is among them. Far away from home and faced with an uncertain future, these kids live through jealousy, fear, elation and love.
A very remarkable part of the book is when the kids see snow for the very first time. This is another hint at the fact that this might be a post-apocalyptic world where snow is not common at all. It’s like a light has finally been turned on in this glum part of the world where they have been brought. The kids can be young again, without thinking about their future or getting ill.
There are some truly heart breaking parts in the book. It’s easy to get attached to the different characters, they’re kids and they’ve abruptly been taken from their home knowing they will never return and will probably die. That is also a thing all the kids have in common and though there is a fierce rivalry going on in the house, it still connects them on some level. So when one of my favourites got ill, the storyline that followed literally broke my heart.
The ending is surprising and heart-wrenching, showing how the kids through their ordeal have become very mature and are capable of making choices that are beyond their years. This book has shown me a different side of Pinborough’s work. Where here “Dr. Thomas Bond” books used a historical mystery to create an amazing story full of real historical facts but with a supernatural twists; and 13 minutes is a dark coming-of-age tale with a surprising twist; The Death House is a dark and gloomy book packed full with emotions. I’m very excited to read more of her books and find out what else she is capable of!
Although the house is situated on an island, it’s about as far from paradise as you could get. The dormitory situations exhibit the customary bashful awkwardness, pecking orders and bravado. Despite these daily distractions, everyone’s thoughts are overshadowed by disbelief and the nightmarish unknown that no one wants to talk about.
Fuelled by fear, unthinkable rumours about their fate circulate among their group. Yet this only emphasises the need to live life to the full. The focus on Clara and Toby’s blossoming relationship may appear futile, but even given their dire circumstances there are choices they have the power to make.
I liked the casual nod towards Lord of the Flies as the choice of study material in the lessons none of the students paid much attention to. There’s a subtle comparison to the friction and friendship within the death house and how events conspire to change the outlook of the residents.
Not exactly what I’d call a ‘happy’ read, but it didn’t leave me feeling downhearted either. It’s a convincing drama / love story about unfortunate youngsters who are singled-out on medical grounds – they’re just riding the storm as best they can, knowing that lightning could strike at any second.
*** Actual Rating: 4.5 / 5 ***
Some may find the central love story a little bit too sickly sweet, but I think that was needed for the story, and the fact that this was dealing with young love meant she could get away with it, and of course it sets up the ending very well, an ending which was handled very sensitively and was perhaps more unpredictable than I imagined. All in all then a good read, if not a great one.
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