The Need by Helen Phillips

The Need by Helen Phillips

Molly is a scientist and a mother of two who recently found some strange things on the site where she and her colleagues are digging up plant fossils. The objects seem everyday, but each has a slight impossible difference and none of them should be where they were found. As the strange objects draw attention to the site, her husband leaves on a work trip, and Molly struggles through her day on a lack of sleep at home.

At first when she hears the sounds down the hall, she’s not sure what to think: she’s made some mistakes lately through tiredness. But then she realises… there’s someone in her house.

I don’t want to say any more about the plot than that. I went into this book not knowing exactly what it was about and it was so much more fun that way. But just so you have some idea about whether this book is for you or not, I will say that it explores themes of the wonderful and terrible sides of motherhood and juxtaposes them against thriller elements and a bit of existential exploration too.

I couldn’t think of another book I’ve read that takes a concept like this one and applies it to the life of a mother, and a working scientist mother at that. Books about motherhood and parenting tend to be dramas, and thrillers about women tend to be based around women who aren’t mothers or the trials of parenthood are glossed over. I found that kind of refreshing. That said, I think father’s will relate to this book really well too.

Helen Phillips writing style feels lyrical and thoughtful, quite intelligent. Sometimes I did feel like the book was very slightly overwritten, times when Molly thinks of the exact speed of the planet when she feels nauseous for example. Also I felt like Molly complained a lot, making her a little unlikable. I couldn’t always relate to the choices that she made as the plot progressed, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing at all. It made me think, what would I do? What are her options? I really liked that.

I think the ending as well is pretty great. I think I know what happened but I think maybe someone else would get something different from it. I like that kind of thought provoking ending.

On the whole, this is a really interesting read and one that I would recommend. If you like thrillers and interesting female protagonists, then this book should be in your reading list.

Read It If: You’ve ever been an overtired parent, if you like thrillers and if you like books that make you think. (You’ll probably like this if you’re not a parent too)

Thank you Simon and Schuster for sending me this ARC for honest review. All opinions in this review are my own.

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