What a creepy book! But the real scary aspect of this novel is the truth about the gang mentality… kids being lead astray like lemmings to the sea. The impulsive, easily lead 13-14 year old succumbing to the power of peer pressure and how that sense of belonging to a group can override morality and conscience to the point of non-existence. So true! I’ve seen it for myself with my own class peers from grade school who fell into a similar but not so extreme kind of impulsive sine-questioning-consequences-behavior in order to be considered “cool” and accepted by the in-crowd. The behavior of the kids in this book is the acme of this type of behavior rising above strange, and I can certainly understand why this book was considered so controversial when it was published.
What doesn’t work for this novel is the adult involvement, and at times, lack of. If you go beyond a surface of reading of the text, the overall plot isn’t really plausible. For example, Pierre Anthon’s decision to walk out of class and stay out of school for so many months without getting penalized by school authorities or truancy officers. If you’ve researched the Denmark School System, they have strict regulations regarding truancy and notifying parents regarding lack of school attendance. Thus, Pierre’s situation is certainly unique and out of the ordinary. Also, the idea of having a representative from “a big museum in New York” offer $3.5 million for that decaying heap is something I can’t quite comprehend. Viewing this situation from a financial point of view, couldn’t this investment be considered a potential loss since this macabre masterpiece is essentially quite perishable and rather unpleasantly pungent? I have heard about artists using crazy types of media for their art—blood and other bodily fluids—but the masterpiece described in this novel, I think, is a bit over the top.