About the Book:
When Molly, home alone with her two young children, hears footsteps in the living room, she tries to convince herself it’s the sleep deprivation. She’s been hearing things these days. Startling at loud noises. Imagining the worst-case scenario. It’s what mothers do, she knows.
But then the footsteps come again, and she catches a glimpse of movement. Suddenly Molly finds herself face-to-face with an intruder who knows far too much about her and her family. As she attempts to protect those she loves most, Molly must also acknowledge her own frailty. Molly slips down an existential rabbit hole where she must confront the dualities of motherhood: the ecstasy and the dread; the languor and the ferocity; the banality and the transcendence as the book hurtles toward a mind-bending conclusion.
In The Need, Helen Phillips has created a subversive, speculative thriller that comes to life through blazing, arresting prose and gorgeous, haunting imagery. Helen Phillips has been anointed as one of the most exciting fiction writers working today, and The Need is a glorious celebration of the bizarre and beautiful nature of our everyday lives.
“And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness she called Night.”
‘The Need’ is one of the best and most unforgettable books I have read this year! A dreamy, eerie and speculative story that explores motherhood and touches on the supernatural, this book is a real page-turner.
Written in short chapters, ‘The Need’ is the story of Molly, a paleobotanist who is working on an excavation site. The scientists at the site have begun to unearth very strange objects at the site that all seem to be unrelated: a Bible, an Alotids tin, a Coke bottle. The artifacts have begun to attract crowds of tourists, and tours are given every day. What is the meaning behind these ordinary yet off objects?
“Every time she saw the Bible, even there beneath the glass, Molly experienced the same dangerous charge, that buzz in her fingertips a month ago when she first carved away the dirt around it.”
Certain members of the crowd begin to frighten Molly, as the public does not seem to be as excited about the artifacts as Molly is. In addition to being pressured at work, Molly is overwhelmed at home with the constant demands of motherhood. Molly’s husband is traveling for work for most of the book and their two young children are exhausting Molly.
The author’s best writing is when she describes the brutality and the beauty of motherhood. Molly is constantly exhausted but completely devoted to her children. When a masked intruder breaks into their home one night, Molly’s entire world is turned upside down.
“She wondered if other mothers experienced it, this permanent state of mild panic, and worried that perhaps they didn’t, that perhaps something was wrong with her. What a phenomenon it was to be with her children, to spend every moment so acutely aware of the abyss, the potential injury flickering within each second.”
‘The Need’ is part thriller, part science fiction and all imagination. Parts of the book reminded me of Blake Crouch’s ‘Dark Matter’ but the writing here is dreamy and lush. I also felt that this story was almost painfully real! The conclusion is like nothing I have ever read.
Even though this book has its dark and eerie moments, there is still plenty of humor to lighten the mood. There are also powerful messages about motherhood and marriage. I literally flew through this book in two days which is very unusual for me. Although I may not have agreed with Molly’s choices in the book, I applaud the author for the incredibly creative plot and very beleivable characters.
‘The Need’ is definitely among my top favorite books this year. It is unique and beautiful and thought-provoking!
(ARC was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)