A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Bent Heavens is a science fiction thriller by Daniel Kraus, co-writer of The Shape of Water. High school senior Liv Fleming wants to know what happened to her absent father, who disappeared after supposedly being abducted by aliens. Her search includes scenes of violence and torture, leading up to a key bloody scene full of stabbings and beatings. There's frequent casual swearing ("hell," "damn," "s--t," "f--k"). One brief sex scene involves mutual masturbation. Liv's mother is an alcoholic and drinks in front of her.
What's the story?
As BENT HEAVENS opens, Liv Fleming is interested in graduating and going someplace where no one watched her father descend into mental illness. She maintains a friendship with outcast classmate Doug Mock and helps him inspect the elaborate traps and weapons her father set up to capture aliens. When something strange winds up in a trap, Liv and Doug believe they might have the key to the mystery of her father's disappearance. How far will they go to extract the truth from their odd, pathetic captive?
Is it any good?
Some novels start well and maintain a logical course until the end, but this gripping tale of torture and interrogation goes off the rails as it approaches its climax. In Bent Heavens, author Daniel Kraus keeps the reader guessing about the novel's central mystery, but come the big reveal, the reaction may be "Wait. What?" Discussing the revelation requires a spoiler alert, so let's just say that no one recognizes a major character when it would seem impossible not to. Be that as it may, the story is full of strong characters, intense suspense scenes, and an impassioned plea for tolerance. Readers may differ about the ending, but most will be heavily involved getting there.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Bent Heavens addresses the issue of torture. Is torture ever justified? Why do governments use it?
Why do people seek revenge? Is it a healthy strategy for individuals? For nations and governments? How far would you go to take revenge on someone who hurt you or your family?
What do you think of the violence in Bent Heavens? Is it easier to take when reading it on the page than when seeing it on a screen?
- Author: Daniel Kraus
- Genre: Science Fiction
- Topics: Great Girl Role Models, High School, Misfits and Underdogs, Space and Aliens
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Henry Holt & Company, Inc.
- Publication date: February 20, 2020
- Number of pages: 303
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: March 24, 2020
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