Review: Above

Above by Leah Bobet
Release Date ~ April 1, 2012 (Canadian release date: March 1, 2012)
Arthur A. Levine ~ Scholastic
ISBN13: 9780545296700
Review copy received from Scholastic Canada
Goodreads Synopsis:
Matthew has loved Ariel from the moment he found her in the tunnels, her bee’s wings falling away. They live in Safe, an underground refuge for those fleeing the city Above—like Whisper, who speaks to ghosts, and Jack Flash, who can shoot lightning from his fingers.

But one terrifying night, an old enemy invades Safe with an army of shadows, and only Matthew, Ariel, and a few friends escape Above. As Matthew unravels the mystery of Safe’s history and the shadows’ attack, he realizes he must find a way to remake his home—not just for himself, but for Ariel, who needs him more than ever before.

Consider yourself warned: Above is like nothing else out there in YA. Above is a truly original and utterly engrossing read, one that is sure to leave a distinct impression on its readers. And frankly, this isn't a book that every reader will love because it's a very tricky one to read and doesn't make for light reading. However, I think it's one that most readers should at least give a chance because if it's one that you will enjoy, it will have a great impact on you.

  1. Thoughtful details:
    Leah Bobet clearly put a lot of thought into this book, and it is so rich in meaningful topics that I'm not even sure I picked up on all of the ideas and questions it raises. The story comes across as being so detailed and curious, with a very particular story to share. I'm not really sure how to explain it, but overall the details all seemed very conscientious that actually blended together very well and added to the story.
  2. Prose-like writing:
    I know some people who reviewed Above mentioned that they struggled with the writing; and yes, it definitely isn't written in the same style that the majority of books are written. But the way Leah writes Above just rolls off the tongue, with gorgeous phrasing and imagery that just flows off the page to meet with your imagination. It's stunning, really. But I can also see how this wouldn't be enjoyable for every reader (it all depends on taste). But it also captures the perspective of the narrator very well, and gives him a distinct voice.
  3. An intelligent read:
    Above is one YA book that really stood out to me as an intelligent book. It's one that makes you question norms and expectations, and re-evaluate things we readily take for granted. And the way it's written can be confusing at times (and yes, a bit convoluted in some phrases) but you really need to adapt your mind to it and be willing to embrace these differences to appreciate Above. And THAT is something I thoroughly enjoyed about it.
Above deals with a lot of notions and ideas, most of which fit in quite well with contemporary society. This urban fantasy portrays a remarkable story of a group of people just trying to fit in - somewhere, wherever that may be. And whether that may be with each other or not. And there isn't any easy answer to this, as Leah shows with Above, and each of the characters has a lesson to learn that will truly change their life.
But moreso, the story is tragic. I'm not sure if this was intended at all, but it seemed to me that Above did a good job tackling issues of equality among people and accepting the differences and flaws of others. And it took this a step further by highlighting the dangers of rejecting others and the hurt that can stem from that.
Yet I can also see how this would not be a book for every reader; it's beautiful, yes, but it requires a bit of patience to get used to the style and flow of the writing and really absorb yourself in the story. But once you do, here's a book that won't easily be forgotten.

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Angkarina said...

Above is a book that you'll either love or hate. I had a hard time following along with the writing style and I found it very irritating to finish the book.
I would have liked it better if it was written in "normal English", because the storyline is indeed pretty amazing.
Thanks for the review!

angkarina_angkasuwan at hotmail dot com

Christina Kit. said...

I've read so many conflicting reviews on Above, and most of them dealt with the "dialect" used by the narrator.

I haven't read the book myself, but I know that it can be a very tricky thing to do. It can either come off as perfectly representative of the character and the world, giving you excellent insight into both or it can be totally alienating.

I think with these kinds of books, you need to give yourself time to adjust and not get jarred.

Thanks for this review!

ccfioriole at gmail dot com

Natalie said...

Above has been on my to-read list since I first fell in love with the plot synopsis when it was revealed on Goodreads months ago. I've heard some conflicting reviews about it, but I still definitely want to read it! I have a feeling that the prose writing style might bother me a bit at first, but I always love an intelligent read, so hopefully it will win me over in the end! Plus, she's a Canadian author! Gotta support our local writers! Great review:)

Lexie said...

I've heard very mixed things on this one, but after your review, I'm determined to try it out. From what I've been told, it's certainly not anything that's been seen before, and I'm curious to see just how awesomely different it may be. :D Lovely review.


A Beautiful Madness said...

I've been seeing this book everytime I go to Indigo. Now, I do have a question about her writing style: some readers have mentionned a "dialect" and other simply writing: Is it a dialect like in Blood Red Road (something I just couldn't enjoy) or is it more in the syntax of the language, or is it just something else? I'm curious about that.



Chrystal said...

I've read mixed reviews on this book. Thanks for your review... it's made my still want to pick up a copy. :)

Nerd Girls said...

While I personally didn't love this book, I'm so glad that you did. I think it just didn't live up to what I wanted it to be.

That being said, I adjusted to the writing style but it was the story that I had an issue with, which was just disappointing because I wanted to love it so badly.

Great review! :)

Ash said...

I just found out a few days ago that I won a copy of this book and though the plot summary given by goodreads entranced me I'm so glad to see a review for it!

Details, love. Prose, love. Intelligence? I know I have that here somewhere. I think Above and I might just be a good match.

Thank you for posting such a wonderful review.

franchie15 said...

I've read many disappointed reviews about this one. So I don't really know if I want to read it. I don't want getting disappointed with books! But I think I'm giving this a chance because of your review! Also, this is a post-apocalytic! Thanks for an honest review! :)


Christa @ Hooked on Books said...

Yay you liked it! *dances around* I loved this book for all the reasons you mentioned. The prose is beautiful, it's intelligent and it really makes you think about some deeper issues. All around great read.

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