Top positive review
which is a sequel to the brilliant THE FIFTH CHILD
on 2 October 2017
Sequels can be challenging. This book, which is a sequel to the brilliant THE FIFTH CHILD, has the added problem that the main character, Ben, is a feral being who doesn't have recognisable human emotions or feelings. It is therefore very difficult to connect with him, and in this book unlike the first he is the main focus.
Given that it isn't as brilliant as the first book, BEN IN THE WORLD will intrigue any fan of the first book because it answers so many questions about Ben. In the Fifth Child we were deliberately left wondering whether Ben's family, especially his mum, were to blame for his categorisation as 'feral'; perhaps it is their family resentment of him, a baby too many, that made them shut him out of the family. However, as we look at Ben's life as an adult we see that the rest of the world have this same judgement of him. As a throwback caveman, unable to understand how modern people work, Ben is vulnerable to exploitation and we see him cheated and bullied by a whole series of people. Luckily, there are a few people who try to protect him (all women who are outsiders themselves). At the end of the story, some evil scientists (stereotypically evil, in fact) entrap Ben and experiment on him to try to discover whether he is really human.
The ending is shocking, and vividly described, making the slightly disappointing narrative leading up to it worth reading.