Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Bedbugs by Ben H. Winters

Book Details
Bedbugs by Ben H. Winters
Paperback, 256 Pages
2011, Quirk Books
ISBN: 1594745234

FOR RENT: Top two floors of beautifully renovated brownstone, 1300 sq. ft., 2BR 2BA, eat-in kitchen, one block to parks and playgrounds. No broker’s fee.

Susan and Alex Wendt have found their dream apartment.

Sure, the landlady is a little eccentric. And the elderly handyman drops some cryptic remarks about the basement. But the rent is so low, it’s too good to pass up.

Big mistake. Susan soon discovers that her new home is crawling with bedbugs . . . or is it? She awakens every morning with fresh bites, but neither Alex nor their daughter Emma has a single welt. An exterminator searches the property and turns up nothing. The landlady insists her building is clean. Susan fears she’s going mad—until a more sinister explanation presents itself: she may literally be confronting the bedbug problem from Hell.

Bedbugs is a thoroughly creepy read. It's not horrific in the way we commonly think of the horror genre. Bedbugs gets into your psyche, instilling a paranoia that will have you scratching incessantly while convinced you just saw a bug out of the corner of your eye.

I loved the family in Bedbugs and would have enjoyed their characters in any story. I particularly "got" Susan, a woman who has recently quit her job to pursue her dream of being an artist. She and her husband have a daughter, with a nanny that comes during the week so Susan can work on her art. Susan struggles with the guilt of being home and still employing a nanny, as well as feeling her husband resents her for not working while his business is struggling. She's a character most women will easily understand, because at one time or another we've all suffered from a version of mommy-guilt or wife-guilt. Also, with no history of mental illness or hypochondria, she sees bedbugs while others swear there aren't any. This too will be relateable for many, since most people have experienced a version of hypochondria, however minor, in their lives at least once.

Bedbugs is scary, especially because you don't know where the story is going. With a title like Bedbugs, you'd think the matter would be pretty self-explanatory. I personally pictured one of those creature movies Syfy always features. This definitely wasn't the case. The story takes unexpected turns that surprise and work very well in the plot as a whole.

Bedbugs frightens because the idea of being infested by tiny bloodsucking insects is traumatic and very possible, especially now when outbreaks of bedbugs are often in the news. Bedbugs is relevant and will make your skin crawl.



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