At an English Boys Private School children are going missing, they are dreaming and then disappearing but no one knows where they’ve gone.
I wasn’t expecting to like Lost Boys, coming of age stories aren’t really my thing. I was expecting a Lord of the Flies all boy camp bonding thing, if that’s what Lord of the Flies actually is, but that’s the impression I got from hearing about it.
There is a bond between the missing children and it’s a boy in their dreams. At the start of the novel we follow Timothy Dashwood as boys around him disappear and he dreams. We follow the effect that has on him and others around it until he too disappears.
But that isn’t really what this book is about. It’s about why he and the other boys, they’re mostly boys, have gone and what that leaves behind for their parents.
Anyone who is a parent, or is going to be a parent, should read this book. Miller explores the world we have created for our children and how a world of war, alienation and rejection separates children and adults and how that may mean they turn their backs, and weapons, on us.
This is a fantasy but one grounded in real conflicts. Arthur Dashwood, the father we follow, is powerless even to the end to save a child that doesn’t want saving. In fact his child and the other children are fighting against their parents.
Most of the conflict and exploration is internal as Arthur searches for his son and Miller cleverly takes the reader in directions and places that aren’t clear at the beginning as things are connected by links that are revealed in the telling.
The breakdown of Arthur both from internal and external events is extreme but fits the character and the story. The other characters, the wife, the au-pair, the brother and other supporting cast, feel real and rounded. Miller has drawn from a deepwell for this tale.
The only slight thing that jarred was with the sex as desire, lust, and animalistic exploration was missing from the equation for most of the novel but the stories tensions had there release in the final disturbing chapters. Though I don’t think it was about sex but more about power and loosing control of yourself and putting it someone elses hands.
Lost Boys by James Miller is a shocking and startling debut. It’s a powerful exploration on the world we are presenting and leaving our children. It’s a disburbing take on what could be. Well worth reading but don’t expect any happy endings.