Above by Leah Bobet


So… I just finished this book the other day and I still don’t really know what happened… The whole thing was so vague and confusing.

Above features Matthew, a teenage boy living in a subterranean cave/subway system known as Safe. It’s a haven for people with oddities, like his late lion-footed father and gilled mother. The leader, Atticus, has crab claws instead of hands. Got it?

Matthew is Safe’s “Teller.” He records and repeats the stories and histories of all of the underground residents. He’s in love with Ariel, a flighty waif of a girl who shape-shifts into a bee when under stress. He found her in the tunnels.

Life in Safe is secure until it is attacked by a former outcast member and its band of shadows. Yep, shadows are the enemy here and they can only be kept at bay with a lit match and are only killed with a torch. Now the group must risk going Above and the Whitecoats (aka mad scientists) in order to survive.

Believe me, this sounds interesting as hell, right?? I was tricked!! TRICKED! Tricked again by a beautiful cover!

To be fair, the premise was great. Powers and mutations and ghosts and shadows and hermaphroditic bad guys/girls…. What’s not to love?

Unfortunately, the stunted writing style, lack of description, and flat characters answered that question. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever had to go back and re-read passages so many times. Bobet’s writing style made it hard to go with the flow and made things really unclear in many parts of the story.

Like I said, I read the whole book and I’m still not fully sure what happened.

The world was just not fleshed out enough, nor were the characters. All of them had weird names like Whisper or Corner and most of them went unexplained. And I HATED Ariel, Matthew’s love interest. I know she had a mental illness, but it didn’t stop me from wanting to punch her in the face. They could’ve avoided so much trouble if it weren’t for her!

I guess I was hoping it would have the haunting ethereal beauty of Tithe by Holly Black, but it didn’t even put its toe in the same swimming pool. Booo. Lots of amazing potential down the sewer.

2 burnt matches of 5

About Chelsea McDonald

As an avid reader since I was big enough to hold a book, I continue to enjoy losing myself in the thrall of a good story on a daily basis. Since many of my cohorts do not share the same passion, Cracking Spines will be the perfect outlet to express my adulation or frustration concerning the books that cross my path. In this way, my loyal followers will be able to enjoy the stories that are worthwhile and avoid the duds altogether. I also have a Shelfari account at http://www.shelfari.com/chelseamcdonald15 View all posts by Chelsea McDonald

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