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House of Stairs Mass Market Paperback – April 1, 1991
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This book, while being strictly a kid's book and friendly to a wide range of young readers, is one of the most sinister lessons of base human nature around. The "experiment" which makes up the story, is a pretty stark look at what happens to society (or 'cliques,' since we are dealing with kids), when the external influences of the familiar world are stripped away, and all that's left is satiating the animal instict of survival.
Sort of a post-modern Lord of the Flies. Instead of an island, it's a (see title). There is a definate two-pronged lesson to be learned by reading this book. The first is to witness the change in the children as the experiment wears them down into little more than animals performing for sustenance. The second is the realization that the authority behind their situation is the true evil--subjecting the kids to severe psychological torture for no more cause than scientific whimsy.
Teachers, you want your kids to grow up as free, clear thinkers? Stock this and every book Sleator has ever written.
I recommend this book for young people over the age of 10. Another good book for folks who like this book is O.T. Nelson's "The Girl Who Owned a City" (ISBN: 0822596709 ).
The characters are archetypes, yes, but I still cared about them, especially the quiet, reclusive Peter.
The setting of the story is one of the best elements in the book--just pristine white staircase after staircase, seemingly suspended in a equally pristine white void. The only piece of machinery is a small device that occasionally releases food--randomly at first, and as the story progresses, only when the characters are cruel to one another.
And cruel they become.
Highly recommended book. Short, but packs a punch. The darkly humorous ending is a kick too!
I'm remodeling my home and I did a search for "stairs." There it was. It must have been a great book if I can still feel it 20 yrs later.
This books something that they should require in schools instead of Junk like Lord of the Flies they should give children a serious look into the human psyche. What motivates us, what makes us who we are, and what makes us what we we will become and forever be.
Once again sleator adresses scientific questions that have very scary answers. This book is always in a locked contest for favorite book, battling with my other favorite Sleator works that I think are #1, Intersteller Pig, Strange Attractors, and Singularity. DO NOT MISS THIS BOOK. IT WILL CHANGE THE WAY YOU LOOK AT OTHER PEOPLE AND YOURSELF.
This is Pure Genius. Please Please Please read this.