Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Summer Reading for Teens, Part Five of Eight: Leah Bobet's Above

Leah Bobet
Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic
March 1, 2012
368 pages
Hardcover, $19.99

In Above, Toronto YA novelist Leah Bobet's first urban fantasy novel,  kids develop physical mutations. Becoming outsiders forces them to leave Above and head underground—literally—to the city of Safe. Matthew and Ariel, residents of Safe, must escape to Above when an old enemy attacks Safe with an army of shadows. Along the way, the two kids realize they must also change Safe in order to survive. And Matthew might want to be more than just friends with Ariel.

“I didn’t write it as a Young Adult,” Bobet said. “There was no sense of an ideal reader. It was really more I had a story in my head and it was chasing around the corners, and so out you go. My agent was 'Like, look, it would work as a YA novel – it’s got a coming-of age arc, it’s got a young protagonist and also . . . it’s quite a dark book.'”

Bobet seems to have had Marvel Comics' Uncanny X-Men in mind when she penned the tale.

“It’s the whole trope of secret societies and mutants or outcasts living underground—that ‘s not how it would really happen,” Bobet said. “This is not the kind of thing where you’d have these marble floors. If you wanted to go up into the ‘regular world’ and pass as a straight, you’d need more than a cool, floppy cape."


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