Don't panic. The electricity's gone out; give it a minute.
If this were home, Mama would be feeling her way to the pantry for the lantern and the matches she keeps on top shelf. Gerhard would have the flashlight under his chin, his bottom teeth thrust outward and his eyes crossed and buggy, and Suzie would be getting all hysterical, and if he really were the bogeyman. And Daddy would be chiding Gerhard, but only halfheartedly, because there's nothing better than spooking girls.
But this is not home. This is not any kind of place you'd put a person. What kind of things to people put in a place like this? How far underground am I? There were a lot of stairs and a long passage that kept making sharp left and right turns. And too many doors to keep track of. Locks.
Just think of home. Just give it a minute. Just wait.
I received this book off of NetGalley to review, and then was fortunate enough to receive a hard-copy from the publisher as well. I thought for sure the novel was going to be similar to Room, by Emma Donaghue, but although the very core of the premise is the same, many things are different, down to the personality of Blythe's captor to what happens when she gets out of her prison.
I am a secret no one is able to tell.
Blythe Hallowell is sixteen when she is abducted by a survivalist and locked away in an abandoned missile silo in Eudora, Kansas. At first, she focuses frantically on finding a way out, until the harrowing truth of her new existence settles in—the crushing loneliness, the terrifying madness of a captor who believes he is saving her from the end of the world, and the persistent temptation to give up. But nothing prepares Blythe for the burden of raising a child in confinement. Determined to give the boy everything she has lost, she pushes aside the truth about a world he may never see for a myth that just might give meaning to their lives below ground. Years later, their lives are ambushed by an event at once promising and devastating. As Blythe’s dream of going home hangs in the balance, she faces the ultimate choice—between survival and freedom.
To say what happens when Blythe finally gets back Above - seventeen years later, when she is thirty-four years old - would be to spoil the rest of the book, so I'm going to mainly focus on the first half in this review.
Blythe is tricked by Dobbs, a librarian she thought she knew, to get into his car at the end of a local town festival, in her small town in Kansas - he tells her there's been an accident with her brother. He brings her to an abandoned missile silo and locks her up, spouting end-of-the-world gibberish, as he's a "survivalist" - and thinks he and her will procreate and survive in this "new world" once "the end" comes. Blythe scratches and screams and resists at first, but soon, years pass, and she's still in the silo.
Dobbs actually isn't that bad of a captor, at least at first - he feeds and clothes Blythe, and doesn't hurt her. One day, however, he forces himself upon her, and she becomes pregnant; the baby, a daughter (spoiler), doesn't live. A few years later, she becomes pregnant again, and this baby, Adam, does live; and thus begins the difficult task of raising a baby in confinement.
Once she and Adam finally get Above - about halfway through the book - that's when all my expectations for the novel were shattered, although in quite an interesting/good way.
I'd recommend this novel to anyone who likes dystopian books, in particular, or really to anyone that enjoys a good fiction read.
4 stars out of 5.
*Disclosure: I received a copy of this book for reviewing purposes. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.
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