Book Review: Suffer the Children
S Suffer the Children presents a terrifying tale of apocalyptic fiction, as readers are introduced to Herod’s Syndrome, a devastating illness that suddenly and swiftly kills all young children across the globe. Soon, they return from the grave…and ask for blood. And with blood, they stop being dead. They continue to remain the children they once were…but only for a short time, as they need more blood to live. The average human body holds ten pints of blood, so the inevitable question for parents everywhere becomes: How far would you go to bring your child back?
ashley | Suffer the Children by Craig DiLouie has a familiar feel to it; zoom in on a handful of families who loosely interconnect and are all dealing with their own personal problems and stressful lives. Then, completely unexpected, crisis hits that changes them all forever. The crisis in question, Herod’s Syndrome, kills every single child, immediately. Set the scene for chaos.
We’ve seen it often enough, how far people will go to survive. What I like about Suffer the Children is that DiLouie takes that idea one step further, pushing the boundaries of not what you will do for survival, but what you will do to yourself for the survival of your children. And I don’t just mean physically, I mean the mental toll it takes on you to continually watch your children die when you can’t provide enough to keep them revived, to keep having to commit an act that is hard to accept and hard to watch under normal circumstances.
Slowly each character is forced to either give up their child or give up their morals and standards and act out in more erratic ways. Reading that decline, witnessing these acts of violence and desperation, I was really just left with such a hopeless feeling. There’s a hint of understanding but more so that feeling of fear, knowing that this is the edge of civilization and I’m watching these people, one by one, jump off into a vast darkness that will consume their soul.
But it’s not just the people. The children, too, are declining into darkness and a war starts to break out. A war between people thriving to survive, a war between the adults and the children, a war between the children themselves, as everyone fights to survive a nightmare growing more and more out of control.
Suffer the Children ends up being both a vampire and zombie story. It’s interesting to me how you can have blood-drinking, decomposing children that are still the epitome of innocent and pure, with zombie parents suffering from severe blood loss committing horrible crimes in kind of an understandable way. There’s so many awful things happening, but it’s hard to say if any of us would act any different under those circumstances.
I was worried about reading this so close to having finished The Girl With All The Gifts, as both zombies and vampires are creatures that have been overdone and I wasn’t sure whether two books published around the same time would both be able to revolutionize the genre with a new storyline that I haven’t seen before.
But Suffer the Children took the traditional formula and did manage to make it something completely new. Witnessing the slow turn and transformation into madness through DiLouie’s eyes has the comfort of familiar elements, but the horror of a whole new terror we haven’t yet experienced. DiLouie has clearly created the perfect, gruesome monster story without using any actual monsters. Well, at least not in the beginning.