March 4, 2014
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depo/or Amazon
I am a secret no one is able to tell.
Blythe Hallowell is sixteen when she is abducted by a survivalist and locked away in an abandoned missile silo in Eudora, Kansas. At first, she focuses frantically on finding a way out, until the harrowing truth of her new existence settles in—the crushing loneliness, the terrifying madness of a captor who believes he is saving her from the end of the world, and the persistent temptation to give up. But nothing prepares Blythe for the burden of raising a child in confinement. Determined to give the boy everything she has lost, she pushes aside the truth about a world he may never see for a myth that just might give meaning to their lives below ground. Years later, their lives are ambushed by an event at once promising and devastating. As Blythe’s dream of going home hangs in the balance, she faces the ultimate choice—between survival and freedom.
Above turned out to be something quite different than I was expecting . . . and I'm still not sure if that was a good or bad thing.
Blythe is a sixteen-year-old girl (in a time that feels more retro and longer ago than the math works out to later when she is taken. Locked away in an abandoned missile silo just outside of her hometown her only interactions are now with her captor, a man who believes he's saving her from the coming apocalypse.
It's this part of the novel, chronicling Blythe's confinement, her attempts at escape, the growing despair as she's not found and rescued that was the best. The silo and the man become her entire world. As events transpire, each at least as bad as the last, you're left wondering if Blythe ever will escape her prison.
When her child is introduced to the story, you hurt for her and the boy. Yet, her son, his life the questions he asks and the answers he gives, give more insight into Blythe's character, her captor's and the entire situation. The true ramifications of what she's been experiencing, the limitations of her environment become even clearer.
It's the second half of the novel, after a change occurs that things got a little weird. It may have been just because I wasn't expecting it, but it felt, almost, like an entirely different story. The characters stayed true, but the plot was lacking. The new course was very unexpected, but could have worked. There was just too much wondering for me to really engage with it as much as I had beginning.
While it kept me turning the pages, reading to find out what would happen next, a lot of that was due to the questions each development left me with. We were given so much detail about the silo, from what it was designed for to, literally, how Blythe was confined to what it now housed. Compared to all of that information and description, there wasn't enough in the latter section.
I can understand the characters not needing all of the information (and for the disparity between amounts of detail they required), as a reader I definitely wanted more.
Part of me really likes that it was something unexpected that happened, that it was not what I thought would happen. I also really liked where the story took Blythe, the point she had reached at the very end. If there had been just a bit more development in the 'world' of the second half of the novel, it would have worked better for me, been really great.
Above is an enjoyable novel, very much unlike others I have read. It is not 'YA' but should be fine for all but (maybe) the youngest YA readers.
Other books you may also enjoy: The Compound by S.A. Boreen and Pure by Julianna Baggott
thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for my copy to review