Audiobook Review: The Insect Farm by Stuart Prebble
Narrator: Rupert Degas
Published by Hachette Audio, Mulholland Books on July 7th 2015
Genres: Thrillers, Suspense, Psychological
Length: 9 hours 31 minutes
An eerie debut suspense novel that explores how little one man may know his own brother--and his own mind. The Maguire brothers each have their own driving, single-minded obsession. For Jonathan, it is his magnificent, talented, and desirable wife, Harriet. For Roger, it is the elaborate universe he has constructed in a shed in their parents' garden, populated by millions of tiny insects. While Jonathan's pursuit of Harriet leads him to feelings of jealousy and anguish, Roger's immersion in the world he has created reveals a capability and talent which are absent from his everyday life. Roger is known to all as a loving, protective, yet simple man, but the ever-growing complexity of the insect farm suggests that he is capable of far more than anyone believes. Following a series of strange and disturbing incidents, Jonathan begins to question every story he has ever been told about his brother--and if he has so completely misjudged Roger's mind, what else might he have overlooked about his family, and himself? The Insect Farm is a dramatic psychological thriller about the secrets we keep from those we love most, and the extent to which the people closest to us are also the most unknowable. In his astounding debut, Stuart Prebble guides us through haunting twists and jolting discoveries as a startling picture emerges: One of the Maguire brothers is a killer, and the other has no idea.
The Insect Farm by Stuart Prebble is a fascinating look into one man’s life, and his relationship with his brother. Jonathan is the younger brother of a much better looking, but also simple minded Roger. Much of this book revolves around their relationship and the impact it has on Jonathan’s life.
The book is set in the 70s, and honestly, could never be placed in current day. There are a few mysterious deaths, and the use of todays technologies (cell phone signals/localization, security cameras, etc) would completely obliterate some of the mystery, providing investigators with concrete proof, something to work with. But I enjoyed it and thought it worked well.
We are never told exactly what is “wrong” with Roger. Honestly, I don’t think Jonathan knows exactly, just that his brother is mentally impaired in some way and not able to function normally in society. But not any way that you would easily recognize, he is someone that can pass as “normal” at least on visual inspection. During their childhood, Roger starts working on the “insect farm”. At first it seems to be a good hobby, something he can work on and be excited about. But then it becomes an obsession where he seems to be playing god to all these scurrying creatures.
Jonathan is trying to live a normal life. He goes to college, falls in love and seems to be headed there. But, his insecurities can make it difficult. And then he is called back home, leaving the “typical life” behind.
As a reader I couldn’t help but theorize while reading this, trying to solve the mysteries that accrue during the story. And while I got some right, I got others wrong. There is a bit of unpredictability in this. We are seeing things from Jonathan’s perspective, so we only get the information he is aware of and finds important.
This is not a speculative fiction book and I am honestly not sure what I’d classify it as. Maybe mystery? It is more a of a introspective look at the relationship between the brothers. From the description, I expected a creepier, more suspenseful book. But, I really enjoyed the book for what it is. And it definitely has a dark edge to it, sometimes books without any sort of supernatural element can actually be much more disturbing because it is a look into what humans are capable of.
After finishing, while writing my review, I chatted about this book with Lynn from Lynn’s books. I loved getting to do this, because it is a book that really can cause speculation and deeper observation into the motivations of characters. After you finish, you can’t help but still try to puzzle all the pieces together and look back at the entire story from the beginning and wonder about so many things that happened early on. Trying to decide if there were ulterior motives that you might have missed on the initial read.
There was one detail in the ending that is hard to accept, but overall still a fascinating story and relationship that I am sure I sill be thinking about for a while.
For the audiobook version, Rupert Degas was a captivating narrator. Not only did he completely give a good presentation overall, but he also did a wonderful job of reading Roger, getting the subtle speech and inflection differences to make his patterns of speech come across as somewhat different, but not exaggerated.