Friday, March 16, 2012

Me on Above

Title: Above
Author: Leah Bobet
Release Date: March 1, 2012
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books (Scholastic imprint)

Matthew has loved Ariel from the moment he found her in the tunnels, blonde hair shining and bee's wings falling away. They live together in Safe, a refuge deep underground for those fleeing the harsh city Above, like Whisper who speaks to ghosts, like Atticus who has thick claws for hands, like Jack Flash, shooting lightning from his fingertips. But one night, an old enemy invades Safe with an army of Shadows, and only Matthew and Ariel, with a few friends, escape Above. Forced to survive in a dangerous place, Matthew strives to unravel the mystery of the shadows and Safe's own history, because he knows he has to find a way to rebuild Safe, not just for him or his friends, but for Ariel, who comes face to face with the life she ran away from.

Above is pulled from the depths of imagination, a gorgeously written story that's both unbelievably magical and undeniably real. This book left me feeling weighed down, emotional and fractured. I have so many words and feelings about this book, but they feel dry and useless.

You're in the dark when it starts, knowing not a single thing. Not about Safe, not about Matthew (except that he can Pass), not about Ariel or Atticus or Jack Flash, not about the others and their Curses, and not about Above. You've been sent into Safe blind with Matthew as your guide, but it's okay. Matthew is so wonderful as a narrator that you almost don't mind. His voice is perfect, giving just enough, hiding what doesn't need to be said. A voice so knowledgeable, but also so hauntingly sad and sweet. A little lyrical, a little poetic, and honest to the core.

There's no background information cluttering up the story unless Matthew wants you to know about it. It's his purpose to Tell, and all he Tells you is what's happening at that moment, what he sees and hears. Because of that, you're thrown straight into his world, into his head, following him through the old and new sewers under the city Above, searching and running, racing to survive and keep Safe.

Ariel is Matthew's gorgeous and fragile mystery, iridescent bee's wings like honey drawing him in. He's so in love with her, the scent of it sickly-sweet and cloying. Anything for Ariel, anything to keep her with him, to keep her away from Above, to stay with her and love her.

Days after reading this book, I was still thinking about it. About what everyone went through, all the heartache and the struggles to keep Safe, the struggle to find a place to belong in a world that rejects them. What struck me the most, what cut the deepest, is how real Above felt. It felt like it was happening now. Not in a world past or a world to come, but now. Right now. And that both fascinates me and terrifies me.

This book is not an easy book, not simple. It started soft and sweet and cautious, turned wary, draped in shadow, and became a Tale I never saw coming when forever passed in a moment. Never in a million years did I imagine that at the end of this book I would be left breathless. Both gorgeous and heartbreaking, Above is a world of mystery, full of creatures more human than humans and emotions so honest I was left wondering if it was reality and not fiction. So real and so magical, it took nothing for me to fall in love.

(I own a copy of this book. The release date above is the Canadian release date. The US release date is April 1, 2012.)

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