Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Above by Leah Bobet

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Goodreads Summary:

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.


So whenever I get read to write a review, I check out the other reviews on Goodreads. That is what I consider "doing my research." It gives me an idea of what other like and lets me come up with a response. Did I like what they liked, or what they didn't like?
I was reading the reviews for this book and it seems like I'm not the only one who feels the way I do about Above. So here it goes:

I've been thinking about it for a couple days now. It took me a long time to finish this book because, well, I do have school. I only read it for, what? 20 minutes a day? And rarely more than that. So yes, it took a while. I had a hard time getting into it, too. But something kept me pushing through this book, little by little. Was it difficult to understand at times? You better believe it. It's the lingo that got me sometimes. Other times it was the lack of explanations. Matthew is a Teller. He collects stories and he carves them onto doors. I thought it was a beautiful thing. But he doesn't have all the stories. I have so many questions I want answers too. Maybe they were implied, but I just didn't get it. I got that these people were mutations of some sort but...why? What made them that way?
I wish it had gotten into more detail, but as the case may be, the doctors and mutations weren't the point of the book.

So I liked Matthew. He was a likable character. He had some wisdom in him because of all the Tales he knows. And I loved that at the end of each chapter, there was a Tale about a specific character. Like Whisper and Doctor Marybeth. The ones I loved the most were Corner's and Ariel's.
Which brings me to Ariel.
Ariel is truly something else. A couple of her Tales were, I suspect, made up by Matthew because she never talked about her life Above. A lot of her past was implied. It was interesting trying to piece the clues together, but... she was the most interesting character. I wanted her past to be presented to me in a confession or something. When her patient file was found, I was like, YES THIS IS IT. But it wasn't. Matthew just kept going on and on about he couldn't believe it. And I was like, BELIEVE WHAT?!
After thinking on it for a few days, I think I know.
I think.

As the summary suggests, the plot follows the enemies that get into Safe. Safe's history is revealed, thank goodness. Atticus and Whisper's Tales help with that. And Corner's Tale explains a lot about the enemies and shadows. Which was so damn relieving.
Most of it takes place Above, and seeing the world Leah Bobet created was so interesting. I'm still not sure of the role Beatrice played, but she did contribute to the plot a bit. (Truth be told, I'm not sure about a lot of things.)
The Tales just revealed all the bad that had happened Above and at some point Marybeth is like, not everybody is a Whitecoat.
So I think the key here is that, yes, people are mean and evil and judgmental. But not everyone succumbs to all of that. I think this is a story about hurt, and loss, and love. It was nothing like I expected, as far as the way it was told. But I liked the idea it presented. I can't help but be a little disappointed but... Those last pages were absolutely amazing.
And that cover? Don't even get me started. It's because of the gorgeous cover that I picked up this book and probably the reason I kept going. And the last couple chapters were worth it for me.

Rating: 2 stars

Why: beautiful but unsatisfying. If that makes sense

Recommendation: don't read this unless you're prepared to meditate on some parts to figure out what the hell is going on. But if like those kinds of books, go for it. And then tell me what the hell happened (haha)

Favorite quotes:

“He yells, straightens up with a swear that tells me he is the one, he's the one that broke my Ariel, broke her down made her Freak made her scared of sweet words or touching so I had to walk slow and careful, talk soft and always be patient and never just kiss her like I wanted to. Took away her want to be kissed.”

“You'll come up with me?"
"I need it here", I said. "The dark. The quiet. The sunlight drove near mad."
"I'd be your dark.”  

“Keeping histories is as much about knowing what needs forgetting as what ought to be remembered.”

“Healing's not always natural, she says. Healing's not always the way a body wants to go. Sometimes the body wants to run. Sometimes it can't think of anything but what might stop the pain. And though stopping the pain's important if you want a body healing, it isn't the whole. Sometimes that just keeps you broke.”  

“Because even if we're strange and Cursed and Beasts, the people Above are monsters.”  


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