Lost Boys by James Miller – not to be confused with the great 80s film starring Corey Haim (whatever happened to him?!) – is set against the Iraq conflict. It takes place in an unnamed but presumably present day London. Affluent, mainly white, school boys keep disappearing from their homes. The book weaves together the different perspectives and voices all connected with one family to shed some light on these vanishings. The story revolves around the Dashwood family and the disappearance of the oldest son, twelve year old Timothy. The boy tells part of the story himself and it was this young voice in particular that I enjoyed reading the most. There is an authenticity to Miller’s evocation of childhood traumas and lonely school days.
A growing sense of unease pervades the narrative, growing with each successive section, until the book is buzzing with secret whisperings that the reader is never fully allowed to hear. Miller treads a fine line between suspense and bafflement but I believe he weaves his way with skill. My only regret is that there wasn’t more of the boy’s voice although I understand the writer’s choice (for me the later emails from Timothy were not so convincing). Miller wants the reader to remain in the dark to a certain extent, and the call that summons the boys is not for adult ears although they are complicit in it.
This is a world full of disillusioned, disenfranchised young boys. The book deals with the decadence and decay of Western Imperialism. A generation brutalised by the wars created by their parents, trained in combat by obscenely violent video games. A true call of the wild beckons them that I as a reader may not be able to understand but can appreciate as the first step in the journey nonetheless.
Languages (book tip): English