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Friday, April 6, 2012

ARC Review: Above by Leah Bobet

TITLE: Above                                AUTHOR: Leah Bobet
PUB: Arthur A. Levine Books       PUB DATE: 4/1/12
FORMAT: ARC, 368 pgs                SOURCE: from pub

An extraordinary debut urban fantasy about dangers outside and in. 
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. 
ABOVE is the debut of an amazing new voice.

THREE WORDS: Did Not Finish

MY REVIEW: To start with, I did not finish reading this book, stopping at about the halfway mark, so this won’t be a full review but simply my reasons for why I chose not to finish the book. And of course my thoughts are based on only the first half of the book.

Leah Bobet’s Above certainly has an original and potentially fascinating premise, but unfortunately this alone was not enough to hold my interest. The story focuses on a group of “beasts” (people with abilities or disfigurements) that live in Safe, an underground community. The people of Safe, including Matthew and Ariel, live in fear of Above (the outside world), but they are forced to flee there after an old enemy invades Safe.

I was drawn to this book because of its intriguing premise, and I still think the overall idea and concept of the book is really original, however, the way the story was executed failed to hold my attention. I’m usually a big fan of book’s whose language may be a bit different or unusual- lyrical prose, stream of consciousness, different or literal dialects- and I’ve seen these things come across in really awesome ways in books…unfortunately, the language in Above was Too Much for me- too odd, too frustrating, too confusing. I think I fully get what Bobet was trying to achieve with this language and with Matthew (whose point of view the book is told from), but “getting” it and liking it are two different things, right?

But that’s not to say that Bobet’s actual writing isn’t good, but cause it really is. There are some quite breathtaking descriptions and tangible emotions created in this book. Bobet is clearly a talented writer.

My biggest issue with this book is the slow, uneven pacing and lack of, well plot. The book moves slow and is often boring, and honestly, not much happens. The book is very much about being “in the moment” and very little backstory is provided (at least up to the point I read) and I found this confusing. This lack of any real storyline and backstory made the characters come across flat and uninteresting…not necessarily unlikable, just not compelling.

MY FINAL THOUGHTS: By the half-way point of Above  I just found myself too uninterested and not invested enough to continue. Did I hate what I read in Above? No. Was this book for me? No. Would I read more of Leah Bobet’s work? Absolutely!

**Be sure to check out all the reviews of this book on Goodreads, especially the positive ones, before you decide whether you think this book is for you.**

Did Not Finish

Find the author: Website / Goodreads / Twitter / Facebook
Purchase: Amazon / B&N


The More the Merrier said...

Sad to see you didn't like Above. But I get what you mean if a books characters or story can't hold my attention then it's better to put it aside rather then get frustrated by it.
Hope your next read is better!

Carina said...

While I've read many positive reviews for ABOVE, I'm very grateful for your honesty. Sometimes a "negative" review is necessary to adjust my expectations for a book and while I still want to get a copy and read it, it's good to expect a bit less than pure awesomeness.

Thanks for sharing!

Fictional Distraction

Amy said...

I have heard a lot of mixed reviews on this book. It's too bad that you didn't enjoy it. I didn't plan on reading it anyways. It didn't sound like something that would be for me. Thanks for the honest review.