Reading Level: Young Adult
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Size: 272 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Release Date: November 10, 2009
Stand Alone or Series: Stand Alone
Source: Swapped through Paperbackswap.com
Rating: 3.5/5 stars
I have had this book on my shelf to read for years. I really enjoyed Shusterman’s Skinjacker trilogy and had picked up some of his older books to read. This was an okay read, it reminded a bit of a young adult version of Gaiman’s Neverwhere…but not as magical.
Talon lives under the streets of New York’s city in a secret community called Downsiders. Lindsey is forced to move to New York City to live with her dad, who is working on a project to create a new aqueduct for the city. Lindsey is lonely and incredibly curious when she spies a boy, Talon, down in the sewers. Talon and Lindsey meet and Talon breaks the greatest rule of Downsider society…he reveals their existence to Lindsey. Now Talon faces a sentence of death but as Lindsey’s dad breeches part of the Downsiders territory bigger problems face New York City.
This book was well written and engaging. It’s a pretty straight-forward and simple story. I enjoy the idea of a secret society under the streets of New York City, as I mentioned is reminded a bit of a simpler, less magical, young adult version of Gaiman’s Neverwhere.
Talon and Lindsey are both well done characters. They are each driven by fairly simple motives. Talon is eternally curious and wants to be part of the world above. Lindsey is lonely and looking for a mystery to solve. They are fairly simple but engaging characters and younger readers should be able to easily relate to them.
I loved the mystery behind why and when the society of Downsiders was formed, this was probably the most interesting part of the book. There are some good lessons in here about friendship and community. I do think the idea of secret societies forming underneath cities and the surface of the Earth in general has been a bit overdone, so it’s not all that creative…still Shusterman does a good job with this.
Overall a good book. It’s a pretty simple story with simple yet engaging characters. I enjoyed the mystery of how Downside came into existence and loved the idea of a city underneath New York City. The whole book was a bit too simplistic for me to absolutely love, but I think younger readers will find the ideas here intriguing and enjoy it even more than I did.