Tuesday, January 23, 2007

This Time of Darkness by H.M. Hoover

From the cover: "All Amy's eleven years have been spent in the City. Everyone knows that its gridwork of halls and corridors stretches endlessly. There is no point in going Outside, where the air is too polluted to breathe. Besides, there is nothing left Outside any more, nothing at all. Amy's learning center has taught her that. And even though she is bored by the monotony of the learning center, she knows better than to attract the watcher's attention by showing she can read.
But Axel isn't so careful. He ignores his terminal at the learning center as he ignores everything else. Rocking and singing softly to himself, blocking out reality, Axel has been labeled a psycho. And Amy is not the only one to notice--the watcher sees everything and forgets nothing.
When Axel confesses to Amy that he's from Outside, she believes him at once. Together they plot a daring escape. But to do so they must risk their lives, not just once, but again and again, as they flee through the tunnels of the City, across the rubble-strewn badlands of Outside, and into a hostile and uncertain future. "

One afternoon, a co-worker and I were discussing young adult books we liked, and making recommendations to each other. Since we were about to go on Christmas break, we went down to the YA section (I work at a library by the way) and we checked out some of the books we had recommended to each other. This book was one that she recommended to me.

I've read a lot of Young Adult fiction--a lot--and while there's some great, great writing out there, I am always a little surprised when I find a book that is written for young adults, (at their reading level, etc) but that captures complex themes and emotions beyond what the average teenager is thinking about, making it an enjoyable book for anyone to read. This is just such a book.

While this book is a quick read, there are truly heart-pounding moments, and Hoover perfectly captures the hopelessness and despair of this City. It's a startling look at the way societies are structured, a pitch-perfect adventure, and a testament to the power of human friendship and companionship.