There are so many criminal happenings in society that it almost seems inevitable that a book like The End of Alice would come into print; when murder and crimes against children dominate the national headlines, the common question that almost always seems to arise is, How could somebody do something like that? What does it take to be that evil? How does that evil manifest itself? And the national inquiry grows layer upon layer.
A.M. Homes tries to tackle those questions, but she addresses them from the point-of-view of the protagonist, a pedophiliac child-killer, a middle-aged, nameless man who has spent decades behind bars in Sing-Sing Prison for his horrific crime. By turns, the man is a contemplative intellectual whose spoken articulation sets a most refined presence during the course of the novel, even though the bulk of it takes place behind prison walls. On the flip side of the coin, he is a psychotic sex deviant who can not control his aberrant lust impulses. And if anyone dares cross him when he's about to break (the prison rape scenes can attest to that), he flows over with uncontrollable rage.
The monster details his own disturbed upbringing by an abusive mother and her unquestionable deeds, how one act of evil against innocence can begat evil towards the next generation of innocence; the monster is not merely a victim and criminal all in one, he is the bridge that connects past crimes to the future perpetrated ones.
While in prison, he gets dozens of letters. But on one occasion, he gets a mind-bending one from a young woman who has heard of him and is curious of his actions. She has a disturbing respect for him and wants to learn and apply his methodology for seducing youths, for she has her own plans in mind. While he is the monster behind bars, she is the monster wanna-be roaming around in free society; they are brother and sister in criminality, and what he can not start and finish, she does, for she is an offshoot of his influence.
In essence, The End of Alice tells about three disturbing stories that all intertwine to form one whole novel. One is the monster's early violated childhood and his later life behind bars as the infamous child-killer. The second involves the young female teenager who writes to him seeking his advise on her own premeditated act of molestation on a youth named Matt. The third is about Alice, the young victim who the monster manipulates and later murders. Each chapter grows in its horror, evoking a sense of jaw-dropping disgust that a reader will not be able to contain; they will just follow right along with the informal yet tight prose.
The End of Alice was a great book, despite the fact that many people wanted to ban it; it does what good fiction is supposed to do. It enlightens and enrages and reaffirms what a good society is supposed to do--foster laws for life imprisonment, the death penalty, chemical castration, all of it. By getting to the core of evil, it propels justice to the climatic peak of where morality dominates, for if justice fails the victims, vigilantism will surely rise in society.