Friday, April 20, 2012
Above by Leah Bobet
Matthew has loved Ariel from the moment he found her in the tunnels, her bee’s wings falling away. They live in Safe, an underground refuge for those fleeing the city Above—like Whisper, who speaks to ghosts, and Jack Flash, who can shoot lightning from his fingers.
But one terrifying night, an old enemy invades Safe with an army of shadows, and only Matthew, Ariel, and a few friends escape Above. As Matthew unravels the mystery of Safe’s history and the shadows’ attack, he realizes he must find a way to remake his home—not just for himself, but for Ariel, who needs him more than ever before.
Before I got the opportunity to read Above, it caught my eye with it's stunning cover prominently featuring the CN Tower right in the middle and the girl's wings seemingly glowing a little. When I read the description, I was sold, I knew I would have to read it soon, and I was lucky enough to get a copy from Scholastic Canada! After how excited I was going in, I was glad to find myself enjoying it quite a bit.
I adore this cover. It shows the grunge of Safe with the exposed pipes, and piles of dirt and exposed earth. All of the rough edges of Safe against the clean, downtown, urban look of Above. The color scheme was a good embodiment of the tone of the book, dark and not a bright time for most of the characters. My personal favorite part of this cover is the sun shining on the CN Tower in the center, because of the book being set in Toronto.
Character-wise, I really enjoyed Matthew. He was scared of Above, but he was able to pull through and be strong for his people when they were in danger. Ariel was a little hard to understand for me at first, but as the story progressed I was able to make more and more sense of her and her habits. The secondary characters were also very enjoyable, especially those who helped the refugees from Safe while they were in Above. Doctor Marybeth was definitely one of those characters, giving them refuge in a different world from their own without worrying too much about the consequences of doing so. I loved getting to see the point of view of those from Safe because they had a whole different take of the world than most books utilize, making the characters very unique and well written. Their struggles were raw and real, giving the story a rough edge that was great and really added dimension.
The writing style of the book was utterly unique and unlike anything I had just read before. The style was dark and clearly very personal to Matthew, the narrator. I enjoyed the point of view of Matthew, he was relate-able in the sense that, as the reader, I had felt the same range of emotions as him, if not on a less extreme scale. Everyone has felt like an outcast at some point or another, and that was where I really connected with the characters of this book. The story was fairly swift moving, but there were a few scenes that were a tad bit too slow for my taste.
The end was all I had hoped it would be, rewarding the reader with a cliffhanger, but a fairly satisfying end nonetheless. I'd recommend this book to anyone in the mood for some paranormal goodness, or if you want to give the genre a shot. I can't wait to see what Leah writes next, but until then, I give Above a 4/5.