Friday, April 18, 2008

The White Darkness: a novel, by Geraldine McCaughrean

Symone, Sym for short, is a thirteen year old girl from England, who has such a hard time at school with her peers that she has created a fantasy life. It started when she watched an old television series called “The Last Place on Earth” that dramatizes Robert Scott’s ill-fated 1912 expedition to the South Pole. She already knew about Antarctica because her Uncle Victor had loaded her with books on the subject since she was small. Something about the series mesmerizes her, and especially the actor playing Titus Oates, one of Scott's party. He has become her constant companion, her soul mate, who encourages her when she’s afraid, keeps her going when all looks dark.

And she needs someone like that after Sym and her crazy uncle go down into Antarctica, first on a deluxe adventure tour that turns into a more personal and much more dangerous quest than she or you could ever imagine. Although the book is very engaging and you can’t help but be enthralled by each crazy plot development, I could not believe in her “mind” person/friend. I just don’t buy an available “alternate universe”, at least not one that materializes so conveniently exactly when you need it. But the book is worth reading, despite this quibble.

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