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Above Hardcover – March 4, 2014
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Kidnapped on her way home from a summer festival in her corn-country hamlet of Eudora, Kansas, 16-year-old Blythe Hallowell spends the next two decades of her life in an abandoned Cold War-era missile silo, dozens of feet underground. Her abductor, high-school librarian Dobbs Hordin, is a “conspiracy theory du jour” survivalist who has chosen Blythe to play Eve to his Adam when the apocalypse comes. Having outfitted the silo with all the building blocks for a new civilization, Blythe and Dobbs are left to play a deadly and protracted waiting game as one scenario for annihilation after another fails to occur. And then one day, well into middle age and accompanied by the teenage son she bore while in captivity, Blythe manages to escape her insane captor’s grasp, only to find that one of Dobbs’ worst-case predictions has actually come to pass. Morley crafts a menacingly sinister tale of imprisonment and eerily inventive story of survival that will appeal to fans of riveting psychological suspense and cut-throat dystopian fiction. --Carol Haggas
“Quite moving…intriguing and provocative." (Kirkus Reviews)
“Morley tells a compelling story that builds suspense…a true page-turner. Half abduction story half dystopianfiction, this novel will appeal to fans of both.” (Library Journal)
"Reeled out with the chilling calmness of a Hitchcock film, Above haunts as it illuminates. Deftly told, this tale of human resilience in the face of madness is a horror classic for our times." (Lynn Cullen, bestselling author of Mrs. Poe)
"The isolation and darkness wrap you like wild vines and force you to face the nightmare, but Above plunges you forward and drives toward hope, because sometimes that's all that remains. This is a novel that challenges you to believe." (Michael Farris Smith, author of Rivers)
“Morley crafts a menacingly sinister tale of imprisonment and eerily inventive story of survival that will appeal to fans of riveting psychological suspense and cut-throat dystopian fiction.” (Booklist)
“Morley’s writing is magnetic, instantly attaching the reader to the story. We see, we feel, and we cringe at the victim’s circumstances.”
(NY Journal of Books)
"Morley scores with an audacious page-turner. In a series of gripping twists, Morley elevates the complexities of Blythe and Adam’s situation, deepening the themes of survival and dependence… a stellar and surprising ride.” (Publishers Weekly)
"A riveting, heartstopping tale of determination, love and hope for the future." (Fiction Addiction)
“A compelling tale of survival, reinvention, and hope. . . . Vivid and poignant.” (The Boston Globe)
“Grips your heart from the first page and doesn’t let go. . . . A novel to savor.” (Sara Gruen)
“A poignant, read-in-one-sitting tale . . . [that] firmly establishes Morley in the pantheon of such insightful authors as Chris Bohjalian, Sue Miller, and Anita Shreve.” (Booklist)
“What do you get when you mix the claustrophobia of Room with the psychological suspense of Before I Go to Sleep and a dash of The Road? Perhaps something that approximates Isla Morley’s suspenseful second novel, Above.” (Bookpage,The Book Case Blog)
Top customer reviews
First off, this novel has little to no similarity to either ROOM or to THE LOVELY BONES. To compare them is to do all of the very different stories an injustice. Start with an open mind.
Blythe is just 16 years old when she is kidnapped and taken down below ground into an abandoned missile silo in Kansas by a disaster survivalist who has created an impenetrable bunker deep in the bowels of the earth. Dobbs Hordin met Blythe when he was working in the Eudora high school library and abducts her while she is walking home from a town celebration. He's completely convinced that armegedon is imminent and has made complex and complicated plans for survival and for propagating the species afterwards. The first part of the book deals with Blythe's life while imprisoned in the silo. Every day and each event that Blythe endures in the dark and stale compartments below the Kansas plain is one of self-sacrifice and infused with desperation for freedom and return to the family and life she knew before. Dobbs makes frequent missions outside of their compound and returns with supplies and news -- but he is not to be trusted so Blythe has no way to know what is really going on in the world above. Blythe struggles as she is first required to be Dobbs's mate and then to raise a child. She tries to stay alive and mentally intact through her memories but all she can think of is getting OUT.
That day of emancipation comes after 17 years in captivity and what she finds when she and Adam open the doors of the silo is not at all what she had prayed for, hoped for, or imagined it would be. The last parts of the book deal with Blythe and Adam as they come face to face with a changed world and try to reconcile all that happened and forge a new existence. To discover that to live might just take more than to survive the worst.
The book is set in current day but sometimes the character of Blythe didn't ring true when compared to teenagers I know -- she seemed much more old-fashioned -- which was sort of off putting. There are serious religious overtones at times in the writing, though the apocalypse isn't suggested to be a punishment, but definitely it is has heavy social commentary. Sometimes the internal dialog that Blythe has with herself seems a stream of consciousness blathering that occasionally went on too long and the reader indeed gets the message that this is not the world whose memories kept Blythe going and to which she wanted to return. Yes, there were deaths and changes. Many stereotypical characters that will be recognized by anyone who reads post-apocalyptic fiction -- the good guys and the bad guys.
Overall, I enjoyed the story. I think it's one that all ages will devour -- it would make a great movie! Lots of good points for discussion in a book club and I'm definitely going to recommend it to young adult readers as well. I predict that this is going to be a bestseller!
Thank you to NetGalley and Gallery, Threshold, Pocket Books for the ARC e-book to review.
Blythe, the sixteen year old who's kidnapped, is so honest in her musings over her ordeal. Some horrible things happen and she escapes reality for a while, but her blind anger/fear/terror/disbelief at her capture, leaves her blind to the fact that nothing is as black and white as she believes it to be.
This is the kind of novel that makes an excellent discussion for readers' groups. There are no clear cut bad/good guys, and you could spend hours on just one of the ideas that the author brings up, like what if freedom? And do we always want to be free? That hate can tie us down and only forgiveness can set us free. Love too can tie us down, but we don't want freedom from the things that we deem as good.
Plato's idea that we can't trust our five senses because they only give life to illusions that only things that are good can be real. And what's good is intangible, immaterial, coming from the spirit world, a place our five sense can't reach.
Morley writes with such depth and beauty, though sometimes the flashbacks could be confusing. A suspense novel needs to be a little clearer so the action can take center stage, not the inside voice of the characters. Of course this is just my opinion and Above certainly kept my attention for the first half.
Above is a book I might not recommend for everyone because it does have a certain, unapologetic darkness, but for my more discerning book-lovers(one I want to impress) I'd certainly recommend Above. And for any book club that would have me.
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**Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.Read more