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Black Helicopters Hardcover – March 26, 2013
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From School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up-Valley and Bo's orders from their father were very clear: if they hear or see a helicopter, they are to run and hide. The rest of the country does not believe that the government is killing American citizens, but Valley and her family do. That's why her father came up with a plan to wake up the rest of the country. But something went wrong, and the black helicopters killed him. The story is told in alternating chapters from when they were with their father, then on their own, and, finally, living with a group of young terrorists who base their faith on Norse mythology. The richness of this book lies within the characters Valley and Bo meet across the Montana landscape, such as a group of young girls smuggled into Canada after being impregnated, and Eric, the teen whom Valley takes hostage to complete her final mission. Valley is smart and committed although misguided. This is a fast-paced story that builds suspense till the abrupt ending that will leave readers guessing whether or not Valley succeeded. This is a good book to recommend to teens who enjoy reading about the strange underbelly of society.-Erik Carlson, White Plains Public Library, NYα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Woolston (The Freak Observer, 2010; Catch & Release, 2012) further sharpens her pen with a short novel that is daring on multiple fronts. Fifteen-year-old Valkyrie and her brother, Bo, live so far off the grid that they don’t even technically exist. For years they have worked alongside their survivalist father, part of a secret network of “free people” who proudly take on paid “missions” for anarchist or paranoid clients: building bombs, illegally transporting humans across borders, and so on. If it sounds vague, it is—Woolston limits us to Vally’s proud, brainwashed perspective as the narrative intercuts between the siblings’ initial struggle to continue their father’s cause after his death and Vally’s current and final mission: explode the bombs laced to her chest to deliver a last message to humankind. Much of the book is a puzzle of uncertain motives, ambiguous characters, and ominously childlike musings (“We fix clocks. We wear socks. We fix clocks while we wear socks”). But Woolston’s resistance to standard redemption tropes is courageous, making this a periodically confounding but impressively focused work. Grades 9-12. --Daniel Kraus
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I know this is a book I will re-read. It took me where I didn't want to go, but caught me right up and was so well done that every step of Valley's journey absorbed me. When I finished it I looked up at my husband and said, "Holy F***." Holy F*** indeed. He's reading it next. You should read it, too.
This book could very well be a classic.
After her parents die (they believe by "Those People") Valley,who idolized the valkyries, decides to become a suicide bomber.
The story is told by switching between flashbacks of how she came to her decision to be a suicide bomber and the present where the bomb is strapped to her and is on the way to her target.
Even though the story is dark,and timely, I highly enjoyed it. The only flaw and the reason I gave it 4 stars is its length. It was too short. There were parts that could have been fleshed out, more of her childhood for instance but other than that I recommend Black Helicopters.
Hurry up and treat yourself to this fast-paced, heart-wrenching, mind-twisting literary gem... and don't let anyone talk to you about the end until you've read it for yourself.
Blythe Woolston's novels are short, sharp, and to the point. They never outstay their welcome: they simply tell the story as the lead character sees it, and leave the reader to interpret the meaning.
Valkyrie White reminds me of Ree, from Daniel Woodrell's WINTER'S BONE: they're both tough young ladies surviving rural America, and their society, the best they can. Living dangerous lives, their tales of grit and determination stick long after their books are over.
The overt symbolism of chess and clockwork actually doesn't fall into cliché, while there are vague references to "orders" and "messages". However, in the rent-paying scene it's a bit uncertain whether the gun is actually a gun, or a metaphor. It's more powerful if it's NOT a metaphor, though.
Blythe Woolston has a knack for knowing when to tease, and when to reveal. The non-linear narrative has handy timeframes at the start of each chapter, and the events are shared in a suitable order.
It's very difficult to write an unspoiled review, so forgive my lack of detail. There are quite a few things I want to research now, after learning of them in this novel. It would be too obvious to call BLACK HELICOPTERS "explosive", so instead I'll just say that it's bloody brilliant. At only 166 pages, reading it will only take a few hours of your time, but you'll be all the better for it.