The concept of this book is an interesting one; take 26 girls and 26 boys and raise them completely isolated not just from the outside world but from the opposite sex. They have no knowledge that such a thing exists. The premise of the two rich weirdos enact the plan is that without the “distraction” of sexuality they will become prodigies and high achievers. The fact that sexuality is fluid apparently never occurs to these two. When the book begins the children are twelve and the experiment has apparently been a success so far. We meet boy J and girl K (the children are all named after the letters of the alphabet) who are just beginning to question the world around them and the absolute authority of both DAD and MOM (the leaders of the boys and girls, respectively).
I think the disconnect for me was that the premise was pretty high concept but the author (Josh Malerman, write of the stellar Bird Box) wanted to ground the book in the real word and it didn’t really work for me. There is also a tonal shift at the end of the story. Most of Inspection reads almost like a YA novel and then takes a hard left turn into horror at the end. I didn’t mind the slow burn or even the slight repetitive nature of the book as it switched from the girls’ facility to the boys. The conclusion is spectacular and satisfying on some level but ultimately leaves the readers with more questions than it answers. I think this could have been interesting as the beginning of a series because there really is a lot more I’d like to know about this world.