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Borderliners Paperback – October 1, 1995

4.2 out of 5 stars 63 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The second of Danish writer HYeg's novels to be translated into English (following Smilla's Sense of Snow) concerns a trio of misfits at an elite boarding school who discover they are guinea pigs in a sinister experiment.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

In this extraordinary novel, Hoeg portrays the closed world of Biehl's, a Danish private school where a bizarre social experiment is underway. The narrator, Peter, is now a student at Biehl's after spending all of his life in children's homes and reform schools. He is a borderline case, along with Katarina, whose parents both died in the past year, and August, severely disturbed after killing his abusive parents. Although allowed no social interaction, the children conspire to conduct their own experiment to discover what plan is being carried out at Biehl's. Hoeg touches on some of the same themes as in his acclaimed Smilla's Sense of Snow (LJ 8/93)-neglected children, scientific experiments, and technology-but this is not a thriller and may not appeal to the same audience. It is instead a fascinating intellectual puzzle that explores the themes of social control, child assessment, family, and the concept of time. Highly recommended.
--Patrica Ross, Westerville, Ohio
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Delta; 2nd. edition (October 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385315082
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385315081
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,700,845 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Kindle Customer VINE VOICE on October 20, 2000
Format: Paperback
(First off, if you haven't already, please don't read the Amazon.com main review/synopsis above -- the synopsis really upsets me by giving away a few absolutely crucial surprises and plot points. Aghgh!)
"Borderliners" is a gorgeous book -- at times a difficult read, but it's one of my all-time favorites. It's a hugely rewarding book in spite of its occasional dryness, although I should warn you that it's not nearly as accessible or humorous as Hoeg's wonderful "Smilla's Sense of Snow" (which partnered a tough-talking, misanthropic and brilliant Greenlandic woman against a mystery she was compelled to solve against overwhelming odds).
However, what "Borderliners" does, and does well, is bring back the here-and-now feelings of adolescence, the longings and fears, the ways in which everything feels more important than it ever will again. "Smilla" may have been laugh-out-loud funny on occasion, but there's nothing funny about a rocky adolescence, a fact Hoeg's characters know all too well. They're intense, intelligent, and pragmatic even in the face of feeling that now is all that matters. (At one lovely and memorable moment, for instance, a character remembers, "That kiss was everything - it was everything.") Ironically, Hoeg's characters in the novel aren't imagining things and do actually uncover some diabolical secrets in the midst of a harsh boarding school and all the adolescent angst, and the school's secrets are too dark and too clever to bring up here.
"Borderliners" is about survivors, adolescence, the urge for survival, and the concept of time.
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Format: Paperback
Danish author Peter Hoeg established himself with the masterful "History of Danish Dreams," a surreal, funny, haunting story that tweaked the boundaries of the real world. "Borderliners" is a bit like that, but starkly real and not very funny at all. it's haunting, surreal, and quite disturbing. Hoeg did a fantastic job with this.
They are the "borderliners": Children who don't fit in, be it for not being smart enough, for having difficulties with others, or just failing to slip into the slots that society has for them. Fourteen-year-old Peter has been in institutions of one sort or another all his life, partly because of his lack of "normality," and is now going to the creepy Biehl's Academy where the "borderline" children mingle with the privileged kids, in obsessively strict surroundings.
There, Peter encounters the wise orphan Katarina, who saw her parents both die -- her mother of cancer, stretching out every second of the last months of her life, and her grieving father, who tried to speed time up. And there's August, a strangely sinister child who harbors a dark secret in his past. The three grow closer, Peter falls for Katarina, and they begin struggling to break free of the strange experiments in social Darwinism being performed at the school.
Given the name of the lead character -- Peter Hoeg -- I can only assume that this is at least partly autobiographical. That may be why the book is so moving and personal-feeling. Like "Danish Dreams," this book contains a lot of surreal philosophy about time, about how people try to either use or avoid the passage of time. This occasionally stops the book dead, but if you can handle that then it won't be a problem.
The book is haunting and eerie, almost dreamlike. Hoeg doesn't overburden the story with too much detail.
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By A Customer on April 14, 1999
Format: Paperback
Though I do not enjoy suspense-filled literature, I found Borderliners to be extremely interesting, and I literally couldn't put it down. With every page, my mind was ever more focused on the characters' plans and thoughts. Being that I was a 14-year-old attending a private school while I was reading the book, the characters seemed real to me, like people I knew. They weren't flat, and one-dimensional, but complex. The author, Peter Hoeg, did not reveal every thought. The reader can discover things by herself. The anger, remorse, and joy radiated from the actions and dialogue of Peter, Katarina, and August. The characters and setting told the story, not lengthy narrative. The plot was confusing at times, given that Mr. Hoeg intertwined flashbacks with historical tidbits, but once one gets into it, one realizes we are not SUPPOSED to know everything. That is what gives the book its real feeling. We do not know everything that is happening in our lives, either. With all of the twists and turns in the book, the disturbing images, the makeshift families, and the watchful eyes of the superiors, this book makes a wonderful weekend read for anybody, whether they are in or out of school.
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Format: Paperback
The writing of the great Danish novelist Peter Høeg is beyond genre classification, although this novel and Smilla's Sense Of Snow could best be described as a cross between an Ingmar Bergman screenplay and a Stephen King novel. Borderliners is a dark, semiautobiographical novel about Peter, a 13-year-old boy attending a boarding school for troubled students in Copenhagen. In a dreary atmosphere of hopelessness, strictly enforced regulations and corporal punishments, Peter befriends two very opposite fellow students: the older, sophisticated loner Katarina and a timid little boy named August. Something strange is going on, but Peter can't figure it out. Why would a school that prides itself on order accept a student like August - a schizophrenic who murdered his parents after suffering years of their abuse? "He is chaos." Katarina says. Peter soon uncovers a terrifying, Orwellian experiment in behavior modification being run by school administrators. And we Americans thought our schools were bad for stoning our kids out on drugs like Ritalin! Peter Høeg's book is a must-read for anyone who likes great literature. His prose is dark and lushly poetic. You will never forget Borderliners!
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