Expected Publication Date: April 1st, 2012
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books
Page Count: 368 pages
*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own*
A gorgeous urban fantasy about dangers outside and in.When I first saw this book I was completely hooked. The cover is gorgeous, it sounded incredible, but sadly it didn't really live up to my expectations. While I enjoyed the story enough to want to finish it, I just wasn't sure what was happening most of the time. The dialect had me really confused a lot of the time, and a lot of the time I had to go back and reread what just happened. The characters were somewhat flat, and no one stood out too much, but their stories were interesting to read about. Overall, I wish this story was easier to understand, but I'm glad I took the time to read it.
Matthew has always lived in Safe, a community hidden far beneath the pipes and tunnels of the city Above. The residents fled to Safe years before to escape the Whitecoats and their cruel experiments, and now Matthew is responsible for both the keeping of Safe’s stories and for Ariel—a golden-haired shapeshifter, and the most beautiful girl he’s ever seen.
But one horrifying night, an old enemy murders Safe’s founder, Atticus, and the community is taken over by an army of shadows. Only Matthew, Ariel, and a handful of friends escape Above. Now they not only have to survive in a sunlit world they barely know, but they must unravel the mystery of the shadows’ fury and Atticus’s death. It’s up to Matthew to find a way to remake Safe—not just for himself and his family, but for Ariel, who’s again faced with the life she fled, and who needs him more than ever before.
An urban fantasy and a love story, Above is the breathtaking debut of an extraordinary new voice.
Matthew, the protagonist (yay a male protag!) was a bit challenging. The entire time all he does is talk about Ari and how in love with her he is, but she never returns the love and it only serves to make him more and more depressed. I just wanted to jump into the book and slap him. I did like the concept of him being a "Teller" and having the stories about each character at the end of each chapter, but the way everyone speaks made it difficult to understand what was happening. The other characters are all pretty one-note, no one really stands out to me. I am writing this review several days after reading the story and I can't remember many names, so that tells you something.
The story itself is definitely an awesome concept, I just wish it had been executed a bit better. My biggest problem with the writing is that it is written in a somewhat strange dialect, sort of reminiscent of Blood Red Road but not executed as well. Also, I had a hard time understanding who was being talked about at certain times, and some characters are referred to as "it" while others have names that are objects. And then some random words are capitalized which makes it difficult to know if that is a person's name or if it's a mistake. However, the story is pretty short at just over 350 pages, and it's fast paced enough that I was kept intrigued. I do wish that it was written a bit differently, but I'm glad I took the time to read it all the way through.
Overall, this was a pretty quick read, and I enjoyed most of it. I don't think I would read something else with this same story line, but I can tell that Leah Bobet is a good writer under all of that mumbo jumbo. I would genuinely like to see her write something else with more modern language so that I could understand it better. I don't think I'd recommend buying this one, but if you have some extra time someday I'd get it from the library, it's a good enough read!