A NovellaBook - 2016
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This Census-Taker is set in an unnamed time and country in a rural mountain town. The story follows an unnamed small boy who lives a remote life with his parents filling his days watching his mother garden and drawing on the wallpaper in the attic. After he witnesses a traumatic event, he dreams of escaping to the town below and living with the street children he’s met on his few expeditions with his mother. As his fear of his parent increases, the looming dread of the story rises until a stranger comes to record an inventory of the household. Is this the solution the boy has been waiting for?
This novella is an enigmatic story told from the perspective of a 9 year old boy, along with a young child’s ability to interpret situations. This helps to increase the mysteriousness because you can never fully trust the narrator’s account or knowledge. The book changes from first person to second to third person regularly, which increases the uneasiness of the story. Shifting from “I” to “the boy” is a coping strategy for the narrator and makes the reader question his interpretation of events as well as his memory. As the boy deals with the repercussions of a harrowing event, he seems unable to fully make sense of what he has witnessed. What really happened? What are the true motivations of those around him? Who are his parents?
The writing style is Spartan, much like the life the boy lives, and it serves to instill the slow-building dread and trepidation in the reader. This book leaves much unrevealed and readers who enjoy ambiguous endings and interpretation of an author’s intention will feel very comfortable with this book. The story keeps the reader guessing as to what is real and what has been remembered.
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