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The Lost Conspiracy Hardcover – September 1, 2009
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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
“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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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.
A great story must have great characters. And this one certainly did. The people who danced in and out of the pages were full of life and depth. The variety was stunning. I shall show you what I mean.
Hathin: A twelve year old girl who is quiet, unnoticeable, and gentle. Yet as the book progresses she is forced to become a leader of many, and the fate of hundreds rests on her small shoulders.
Michard Prox: A kind, bumbling man, easily flustered. After tragedy, he loses his memory and believes only that which is told him by a "friend." Will he ever discover his true self again?
Jimboly: A charming dentist who steals trust and love while drilling teeth...and planting seeds of dissension.
Airlou: A beautiful girl but utterly helpless as she has little control of her senses. She is believed to be a Lost...but is feared to be disabled.
Therrot: A young revenger riddled with grief and anger. He seeks peace for his heart, but will he find it vengeance or in love?
Jaze: How shall we describe him? Calm, confident, cold, and...well, cool. Easily one of my favorites despite a small role. After his tragic past, he has masked himself in an emotionless disguise. But is he truly heartless?
Tomki: A cheerful young lad with a bright opinion on everything as he scatters about on his elephant bird bringing help and humor wherever he goes.
Dance: The leader of the Revengers. A seven foot-tall, muscular, dread-locked woman. She is unfazed. Undaunted. Undefeated....as of yet.
The Ashwalker: Totally emotionless. Unless you count his eagerness to get new ash.
There are many more characters. And in all those that I just described, I spoke not of the true villain. The one who has made this whole conspiracy. Who is he? Well, reader, that is for you to find out.
I loved how real this book felt. It dealt with prejudice, political corruption, and volcanic movement. Since I knew a bit about volcanos I began to understand what was going to happen long before the characters did.
This is a tale of destruction and despair. This is a tale of revenge. And this is a tale of ultimate mercy. For midst all peril and action, the climax, in the end, is a choice. Hate or love. Bitterness...or forgiveness.
I recommend this book highly! It is for experienced readers only, not because there is inappropriate content (there isn't), but because the book has so many layers and so much depth that a person unprepared could get lost.
For those of you who have read this book, don't you think that a sequel is in order? One not with Hathin as the main character, though she should be a major one. Rather with Jaze as the star. There is a good deal to this young man, more than even he knows. I would see him renewed.
It is an excellent book. Read if you are ready.