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The Line Hardcover – March 4, 2010
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From School Library Journal
Grade 7–10—For as long as she can remember, Rachel has lived a quiet life on The Property. Following her father's disappearance and assumed death in a war, her mother has been working as a live-in domestic for Ms. Moore, an orchid grower. But now that she's older, Rachel is consumed with questions about the Line, an invisible border that runs near the greenhouse at the back of The Property, separating the Unified States from Away. It is only when she receives a mysterious message from beyond the border that she begins to learn about her country's true history and the parts her parents played during the War. Hall's first novel gets off to a slow start, and the somewhat convoluted plot and two-dimensional protagonists may lose readers at the beginning. The writing relies heavily on overly long descriptive passages rather than allowing character development and dialogue to move the plot forward. For more engaging dystopian novels, suggest Lois Lowry's The Giver (Houghton, 1993) and Michael Grant's Gone (HarperTeen, 2008).—Jane Henriksen Baird, Anchorage Public Library, AK
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
In this futuristic debut, Rachel lives with her widowed mother, who is a housekeeper on the Property, an estate that borders the Line, a protective barrier that runs along the U.S. border. After a hostile force, the Korusal, blasted the area with atomic bombs, the Line has been rigidly maintained to keep out the Others: people who were trapped in the bombs’ fallout. Rachel is intensely curious about what life is like in the Away, beyond the Line, and when she finds a message from an Other pleading for help, she jumps into action. Her efforts trigger a series of events that not only compromise everyone on the Property but also reveal dangerous secrets. Hall nicely embeds the history of this repressive future world in a tense narrative that will leave readers intrigued with the mysterious Away. Rachel is an appealing character, and her young voice and the straightforward language make this a good choice for introducing young readers to the science-fiction genre. The abrupt cliff-hanger ending will create demand for the next book in the series. Grades 5-8. --Lynn Rutan
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Rachel and her mother live on The Property and work for Ms. Moore. The Property boarders The Line- the protected and sealed boundary line of the Unified States (US). When the US sealed the boarder without any warning to protect their country from war, they left a fair amount of citizens outside the border who could never return and were doomed to live in Away if they could survive the bombings and radiation. Rumors are rampant about what has happened to the Others in Away, but Rachel isn't prepared when an other makes contact and begs for help for his father.
When Rachel's mom and Ms. Moore learn of the cry for help, a story unravels that reveals more about Rachel's parents and Ms. Moore than Rachel could ever have imagined. Now they must somehow find a way to take down The Line in order to get the medicine and supplies across to Pathik in Away so he can save his father. Can they do so before the Enforcement Officers arrive at the Property?
The Line is a fast-paced read and is relatively short compared to most YA these days (just over 200 pages). The characters are interesting and multidimensional, which draws the reader in quickly: you know everyone in this book is hiding something! The history of the Unified States is delivered in a very interesting way- Rachel is quizzed on the history of her country by her mother who home schools her. This saves from endless back story that could get boring, yet still gives enough history to understand how things have gotten this oppressive.
The writing is fairly simple and I would suggest this book for any middle school to high school student. It would be particularly good for a low-skilled 9-12 grader because the story is very interesting while the reading level is rather accessible. As a dystopia, it isn't overwhelming with background, but is still easily understood with the information given. While any dystopia is kind of grim, it still has the hope of the Others in Away. My only complaint about this book is it just ended. With a sequel coming out next year, I understand keeping the reader wanting more, but this was so abrupt! Just as one action sequence ended, 50 more questions were developed and then.... The End.
The author is great at creating suspense and intrigue but draws it out for so long that by the time you finally piece it all together you no longer care. Nothing of interest happens until the last 20% of the book. I finished it and there again is a lot of potential for 'Away' the second book in the series to be an amazing book but do not want to waste more time pushing myself through a book which is a shame because the conclusion of 'The Line' leaves you with so with so many questions you are almost forced to continue.
The Line is a quick read, and in the beginning I felt it dragged a bit, I know that being a first novel and with it being a dystopian, some slowness is to be expected. I totally understand the author desires to introduce us into the story gradually, which Teri Hall did a nice job at.. I can say I was never "lost" with in the story, however I will say I was a touch board, and wondered if I was wrong about my initial feelings, after reading the synopsis.
Thankfully, I had patience and it paid off, in a BIG way!
I enjoyed Rachel's character - though she felt a bit naive at times, I believe that had a lot to do with how and where she was brought up. She seemed to grow a lot in the span of the novel, which I enjoyed watching - and in the end she became quite brave!
That being said, I felt a bit disconnected from the other characters. Rachel's mom as well as Ms. Moore. It was also weird that Rachel called her mom both mom and Vivian, I thought at first maybe it was just there culture that the children referred to there parents by there first names, but then she would switch and call her mom. She also referred to her dad as dad, not Daniel - so that left me a bit puzzled. I just had to wonder, why? I felt very much like Rachel loved and respected her mom, so it just left me puzzled.
The premise of The Line is excellent as well as unique. My interests are very "peeked" and I can't wait to see what happens next and to learn more about "Away" as well as discover some of the hidden secrets which Rachel's mom has been hiding from her for so long. I can only hope that Away (The Line #2) offers some answers, the name itself leads me to believe it will.
Honestly, I don't want to say to much more about this novel, it's a bit hard to review, since the part I want to talk about most (the end), is the part I can't talk about because I don't want to spoil it for anyone. The ending is well I can only say it rocked my socks off...in a WOW kind of way!
Bottom Line - A uniquely intriguing, start I was both excited and captivated by the plot and the characters, I can NOT wait to see where this story will take us...and to find out what happens next. Teri Hall has a one of a kind, writing style with an unmatched plot line...now if 2011 was next month I could say I was a happier girl, but...as such, they say patience is a virtue, though I am not sure I want to be THAT virtuous. I am VERY excited, and trying to be patient while awaiting the sequel Away, due out in 2011.
I am also very excited to add another dystopian novel to my list of "likes."
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Cheryl Baker Grade 6 teacher