In her 11th affecting fantasy novel for young adults, Newbery Medal-winning author Susan Cooper (The Dark Is Rising sequence) writes again of the clash between good and evil. Bahamians Trey, age 12, and his mute brother Lou, 7, find themselves tugged between two parallel worlds: their own happy island life, threatened by big-business developers, and a murky, sinister otherworld called Pangaia, entered accidentally through a magical window between worlds. In a series of journeys between the two realms, Lou is saluted by underground rebels as their mythic savior Lugh, and the siblings are asked to lead the Greenwar against the Government ("the destroyers"). Along the way, Trey and Lou encounter hideous mutant insects, murderous floods in tunnels, helicopter attacks, and capture by the pro-progress, high-tech Government. Although the plot is occasionally convoluted, Susan Cooper fans will be drawn deep into the story, with its zealous Luddite-styled green guerrillas and the equally ardent progress extremists. Lou and Trey are enormously likeable, and the tropical island setting is beautifully portrayed. Ultimately, nature, myth, and destiny crash together in a breathtaking climax that will leave readers of all ages contemplating the direction our own world is taking. (Ages 9 to 13) --Emilie Coulter
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From Publishers Weekly
Set in the fictitious Bahamanian island of Lucaya, Cooper's (The Dark Is Rising) latest fantasy begins with restful images of whistling ducks, bonefish and casuarina trees, but soon quickens its pace as two worlds collide for 12-year-old Trey and his "strange and special" younger brother. Although seven-year-old Lou is mute, he finds ways to communicate in his own world and in the "Otherworld" of Pangaia (referencing Gaia, also known as the earth goddess). At home, in their world, Lou and Trey's granddad wages a battle against developers who wish to create a resort on their unspoiled island. Meanwhile, in the Otherworld, Lou is the prophesied hero who solves a riddle and then transforms into a giant Green Man flowing with vegetation and rids it of its pollution. The message is clear: Pangaia portends the earth's future. In each setting, the narrative gives way to moments of preachiness or melodrama about protecting our environment; at the island meetings, for instance, winter residents, or "yachties," become contrite about their past sins and the "greenies" in Pangaia are labeled "terrorists" by the government officials. A subplot involving the boys' father wraps up a bit quickly and, in a somewhat contrived scenario, the idyllic Bahamian island is spared from development. As the story unfolds, however, young readers are likely to be pulled in by the sensitive portrayals of Trey and Lou, the mysterious adventures in Pangaia and the whirlwind climax. Ages 9-12.
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