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 aban doned 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. Deter mined 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 mean ing to their lives below ground. Years later, their lives are ambushed by an event at once promis ing and devastating. As Blythe’s dream of going home hangs in the balance, she faces the ultimate choice—between survival and freedom.
Above was a very interesting read. I didn’t know about the apocalyptic aspect of the book until I got to the second half. It sort of felt like two books in one which worked out really well at times but tended to fall a little flat at others. I loved the fact that this book was full of surprises and had me second guessing my loyalties for certain characters. While I didn’t understand, or necessarily like, the shift in direction within the second half of the book things sort of fell into their perspective place by the time I got to the end. I enjoyed the book as a whole even if I didn’t like certain pieces and I will definitely be reading more from Isla Morley.
The plot starts out fairly quickly with Blythe’s kidnapping but everything slows down dramatically when she’s actually placed into the missile silo by her abductor. Time truly seems to stand still as the reader gets to experience the frightening, lonely, and maddening world “below”. I really felt heartbroken for Blythe and don’t know how I would have coped in a similar situation. Dobbs, a school librarian, is Blythe’s abductor and her only source to the outside world. His twisted state of mind, which could have been somewhat reasonable in the long run, challenges Blythe both physically and mentally. She ends up spending seventeen years in that silo, teetering on the edge of madness at times, and it’s still difficult for me, even now, to fathom how one could possible make it without losing their entire self. After giving up her initial mission on finding a way out Blythe’s sanity, emotions, and well being is tested relentlessly when new life is brought into the picture. How can Blythe possibly raise a child in such conditions? I can only sit back with admiration at the courage, resiliency, hope and love that she is still able to possess.
The years “below” in that silo were long and hard to get through. It wasn’t tiresome to read or exhausting in detail but I found Morley was really able to make the concept of time nonexistent as Blythe’s days turned into weeks, months, and then years. Her loneliness and poetic thoughts haunted me and although she didn’t sound like a typical teenager, in thoughts or in dialogue, she wasn’t under any typical circumstances that teenagers face (or adults for that matter). I really enjoyed the way Morley surrounded me with her descriptions and I think Blythe’s silo days will always stay with me.
Now without going too much into the second half of the book, because it seems very spoiler-ish, I will say I was a little disappointed. I was just as shocked as Blythe and her son were when coming “above”. I was actually confused and may have said “WTF?” a time or two. The second half’s events take some time getting used to and honestly it felt like an entire different storyline to me. Blythe’s beloved heroic personality, which won me over so strongly in the beginning, sort of dissolved into an extremely protective mother that was understandably cautious and maybe a little paranoid. While I don’t fault Blythe for her reasoning or her actions I just can’t say I was strongly attached to her as I was in the beginning.
Being “above” was eerie and I felt both Blythe and her son’s reactions were genuine and reasonable. I did like how I was able to experience the things they did when they first surfaced. The sensory overloads, the unbelievable shock, the fear of the unknown were all depicted very well. I was very happy with a lot of parts of the book. And then Morley went down random avenues that felt a little “shoved in” for shock value or some other addition to appeal to the reading audience. While I get what Morley did with the second half and understand its overall value to the story I just didn’t like it really matched up with the memorable beginning.
With that said about part two of the book I did enjoy (most of) the ending. As I mentioned earlier, I became aware of the entire picture and had to re-evaluate my feelings towards all characters; including beloved Blythe and the woman she ultimately became. Above is cleverly written, with a few randomly lost parts, that I very much enjoyed reading. I would read it again and I am looking forward to more from Isla Morley.
Above by Isla Morley
Published March 4, 2014 by Gallery Books
Hardcover, 384 pages
Tags: YA, Science Fiction, Dystopia, Adventure, Survival