The Facility

Simon Lelic

First Sentence: Welcome.

This is a thriller set in England during a time when the government has the power to detain anyone for whatever amount of time they see fit. Henry Graves is given the job of managing a secret government facility in the countryside which is filled with frightened detainees. Some have been detained because they have a life threatening disease while others, such as Arthur Priestly, have either been mistakenly incarcerated or purposely held captive for reasons unknown. Added to this we have the sinister Dr. Silk who experiments on the patients like they’re lab rats, and Tom Clarke, a journalist working with Julia Priestly (Arthur’s estranged wife) to find out the truth about Arthur’s disappearance. This is a fairly pacy read and certainly has its enjoyable moments but I just feel it started off very well and got steadily less interesting as it went on. On the jacket it gets compared to Kafka and Orwell, however I feel that’s more than a little bit misleading. It’s well written in parts and certainly better than a lot of other books in the same vein but it’s not going to change your life or anything. An intriguing concept does not necessarily make a great book. Fine if you’re looking for some mild distraction but definitely not essential reading.

* * *

Last Sentence: She steps and the boy follows and, though he is not yet by their side, he is with them as they fade into the black.

Last Sentence explained: As more and more patients die because of Dr. Silk’s experiments, and Tom and Julia get closer to the truth, Henry Graves decides to come clean and tell Tom about all the goings on inside the facility. This results in Henry being killed. Tom gets interrogated by the two mysterious figures who interrogate Arthur in the opening chapter (the strongest chapter in the book in my opinion) while Arthur is injected with the disease he never had in the first place. One of the things that didn’t work, for me, and I can’t really explain why, is the structure of the book. Each chapter was from one characters point of view and then the next chapter moved forward in time to another person’s point of view. (Chapter 1 is Arthur’s point of view, chapter 2 is Henry’s but maybe a few days later, chapter 3 is Tom ‘s, later again, and then 4 goes back to Arthur.) This style can be effective but it also leaves lots of blanks and isn’t an ideal setup for what is, essentially, a page-turning thriller. It just didn’t work for me for some reason and it made the plot unnecessarily confusing at times. The last sentence is Arthur watching his wife and Casper, his child, from a distance. He is still infected but has not given up exposing the truth behind the facility and all that went on behind its walls. For now though he can only watch as his family walk away.


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