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The Lost Conspiracy Hardcover – September 1, 2009

4.9 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 6–9—It will take readers more than a few beats to find their bearings in this relentlessly inventive fantasy, but once they figure out the Lost (people who can send their senses out into the world and sometimes get lost from their bodies), the social relations among the colonized and colonizers of Gullstruck Island, and the physical world they inhabit, the story is gripping. Haithin is the nearly invisible viewpoint character, one of those people that you hardly realize is there, and the indispensable guide and interpreter of her sister, Arilou, who may or may not be one of the Lost. As members of a despised minority cast, the sisters are part of an elaborate scheme to convince outsiders of the worth of their village as a tourist attraction. Intrigue piles upon intrigue as the Lost are nearly exterminated and Haithin's people are blamed. Can the sisters survive the murderous crowds, fight their way through the jungles of Gullstruck, appease the violent volcanoes, and navigate the silly court life of the local ruler? Especially memorable are some of the secondary characters, including a traveling dentist who manipulates the masses while she drills teeth and a man who is nearly as unnoticeable as Haithin but who appears to be pulling the strings of state. Haithin's journey is, of course, epic. She faces hardship, tragedy, doubt, killer insects, and a river of lava and, in the end, becomes something of a myth herself. The author is as inventive with language as she is with social and cultural constructs. This novel is just plain fun.—Carolyn Lehman, Humboldt State University, Arcata, CA END

Review

“Brilliantly conceived, perfectly executed and utterly mesmerizing.” (Kirkus Reviews (starred review))

“A luminous example of gifted storytelling at its best.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))

“An impressive heroine [and] a many-layered, richly rewarding story.” (Horn Book (starred review))

“A deeply imaginative story, with nuanced characters, intricate plotting, and an amazingly original setting.”- (ALA Booklist)

“Kids will find that this is a world like nothing they’ve ever encountered before and that they’ll never want to leave. It’s Hardinge’s magnum opus.”—Betsy Bird, NYPL librarian/SLJ blogger (Fuse Number 8)“Relentlessly inventive. This novel is just plain fun.”- (School Library Journal)
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Hardcover: 576 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; 1 edition (September 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060880414
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060880415
  • Product Dimensions: 1.8 x 6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #811,902 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on September 3, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I think that as adult reviewers of books for children and teens we have a duty to separate ourselves from our material and give our books an impartial eye, one and all. As a reviewer, I don't know how wise it is for me to get as excited as a ten-year-old when the newest book from a favorite children's author comes out. If I adopt a fangirl mindset then how impartial a reviewer can I be? I have a requirement, nay, a duty to not enjoy a book too much when I read it. I must remain calm and cool and collected at all times, no matter how thrilling the story or intriguing the characters.

Dost thou think the children's book reviewer doth protest too much?

She doth.

She doth indeed because at 576 pages I had just one thought upon finishing Frances Hardinge's The Lost Conspiracy: It's already ended? As I see it, 576 pages somehow manages, in spite of all the odds, to be too short. You couldn't cut a scene, a character, or a word in this book for the 10 and up set without upsetting the flow. Filled with sentient volcanoes, gem-studded teeth, villains, heroes, revenge, love, and the world's most frightening dentist, this is a book to rival The Princess Bride in scope, adventure, and excitement. It's Hardinge's magnum opus. One that I dearly hope both kids and adults enjoy in equal measure.

Gullstruck Island. Colonized by the Cavalcaste more than two centuries ago. Populated by various tribes, amongst them the always smiling Lace. Home of humans known as "the Lost" who are capable of allowing their senses to leave their bodies "like a hook on a fishing line", which gives them the ability to roam the island as messengers and spies.
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Format: Hardcover
On the remote island of Gullstruck, a rare phenomenon occurs to just a few of its residents. These individuals are the Lost, and they have the ability to separate their senses from their bodies. The Lost can send sight, smell, touch, etc. to the next room or to the other side of the island to gather information, exchange messages and locate lost goats or missing children, all while their bodies wait in a sleep-like state for their senses to return. Everyone on the island respects the Lost, holding them as the highest of Gullstruck's citizens. Thirteen-year-old Arilou is a Lost. Then again, maybe she isn't.

Arilou was born in a Lace community, a race of people struggling to survive on the coast of Gullstruck. The Lace have long been degraded to a lower class of people, but when Arilou started showing signs of being a Lost, their status began to rise just a bit. Arilou kept the village from starving many times with the gifts and food given them. Even Hathin, Arilou's younger sister, can thank Arilou for her own existence; Hathin was born for the sole purpose of caring for Arilou, which is a big job as Arilou rarely returns to her body. Hathin has to watch her constantly, feed her, bathe her, dress her, even interpret her slurred words. She doesn't have much of a life of her own and feels almost invisible. Another big part of Hathin's responsibilities is keeping a huge secret with the rest of the village --- a secret so important that everyone's lives depend on it. Maybe, just maybe, Arilou isn't a Lost after all; perhaps she is just physically and mentally handicapped.

One day, a Lost inspector shows up to test Arilou of her abilities. The village bands together to cheat Arilou's way through the tests.
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Format: Hardcover
While I could try to summarize the plot, as other have, you can see it takes paragraphs. Suffice it to say, this book is the MOST original fantasy I've read in a very long time, for kids or for adults. As a Children's Librarian, I spend a lot of time reading fantasy, both for personal interest and to better serve the kids at my library. This is nothing like what I've read as far as the genre goes. Hardinge's enormous creativity in world creation, character development, plotting, and pacing made this a fascinating, heart-pounding read. Normally, I breeze through books in order to quickly grasp the plot and it's potential audiences. I forced myself to continually slow down, to soak in the language, the story's intricacies. You could view this as a commentary on Western colonialization, societal racial tension, environmentalism, or folklore origins. Because it contains all of that, but wrapped up in an intriguing, inventive narrative you won't soon forget. I read it three weeks ago and still can't stop talking about it. Hathin (and her creator) are that impressive.
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Format: Hardcover
Once you start reading this book you will not want to put it down! This is not a novel for the lazy reader; it is complex & creative and requires your full attention.

Give The Lost Conspiracy to the kid who made it through ALL of the Harry Potter books & is looking for an imaginative storyline. Or give it to yourself because everyone deserves a good read :)
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Format: Hardcover
"It was not for the world to decide who she would be. It was for her to decide what the world would be."--The Lost Conspiracy

The Book and Me:
I was suspicious of this book. It was recommended to me by a good friend, but the summary made me uneasy. I was worried that it would have too much magic and sorcery in it. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE a good fantasy book. But I want one that does not involve a great deal of witchcraft. As it turned out, it was very clean in that department. The Ashwalker was a bit weird in his practices, but that wasn't a main focus. The Lost are not magic. Their abilities are natural.
I entered in with reservation, but as the book progressed I started settling in for a good ride. Then -
Disaster! Calamity! Tragedy!
One third of the way through there is a very depressing catalyst. I was horrified and shocked, wondering how on earth my friend liked such a horrid book. I sulked and moped the rest of the night and decided I would read no more. However, the next day was a quiet one and I was in a mood to read. No book was available except that Lost Conspiracy. It stared at me. At last, I began it again. And I read. And read. And read. And read until I was all done! When I was done, I sat shakily sniffing back happy tears.
It was an amazing book! A stunning book! I LOVED IT!
I have read many books by great authors such as Anne Elisabeth Stengl, Robin McKinley, Terry Prachett, Shannon Hale, Megan Whalen Turner, Brian Jacques, C. S. Lewis, and J. R. R. Tolkien. But I had never read any book that was similar to this one. It was the most original fantasy I have ever read. So why did I like this book? Let me tell you.

The Book:
A great story must have great characters. And this one certainly did.
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