Saturday, March 21, 2009

Downsiders by Neal Shusterman (24/81)

C1999 246pages 4stars
Category: Children / YA

Talon Angler breaks all the rules when he ventures Topside to obtain the medicine needed to save his sister's life. But he is soon discovered by Lindsay Matthias, a girl who finds him and his world as captivating as he finds her. Can Lindsay help Talon when The Great Shaft Disaster changes the Downside forever?

Shusterman's Everlost was one of the books that helped me to decide to continue reading YA fiction. So for my category this year it was a no-brainer for me to pick another Shusterman book. Like Everlost, Downsiders takes place in New York. Here we have the boy from the tunnels meeting the girl from the city. Sort of a YA Beauty and the Beast, for those of you my age who remember the television show. And when Lindsay goes Downside with Talon, you cannot help but think of Alice in that rabbit hole, a fact which Shusterman acknowledges by calling it as such. That's just the kind of tale it is. Shusterman has done a masterful job at bringing the Downside to life. It is so thoughtfully and beautifully detailed. At one point he writes "A world, regardless of which one it happens to be, is rather ordinary to the souls who inhabit it... It is human nature to take the most magical of worlds for granted, turning each one into a blank canvas upon which to paint the lives of those who would live there. Only an outsider can see a world's wonders for what they really are." And that is so true. That's why most protagonists are outsiders. So the author can build the world they're in and make you care about it. And I did care about the Downside. So when the Disaster came I was curious to see how Talon and Lindsay would handle it. Because like most YA fiction, I knew there was some growing-up to do. Shusterman didn't let me down, so I'll be reading more from him.

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