Underworld by Catherine MacPhail
Format: Hardcover, 284pp
Pub. Date: July 2005
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Barnes & Noble Sales Rank: 250,925
Age Range: 5 to 12
FROM THE PUBLISHER
A school trip goes disastrously wrong when five troubled high school students find themselves trapped in an underground cave. Their best chance of escape is to stay together. But when a member of the group disappears, their hope of finding a way out starts to fade. Does one of the remaining four know more than he or she is letting on, or is there something evil lurking in the caves?
FROM THE CRITICS
With its breathtaking hills and crashing waves, the remote Scottish island is hauntingly beautiful. To five social outcasts, however, it is their worst nightmare. In hopes of reforming these teenagers, their school administration has handpicked them to participate in an educational two-week trip to the island. For the reluctant crew, it promises to be a miserable time for all. But even Axel, arguably the most troubled of the group, could not have foreseen the disaster waiting to befall them. The night before a caving expedition, the gravelly cook regales them with the Legend of the Great Worm that roams the dark tunnels. Although they laugh at her, there is an undercurrent of fear at her words. When the outing ends abruptly with a rockslide that traps the teens in the tunnels with their teacher gravely injured, their bravado crumbles. Bickering escalates into fighting, and the group splits into two factions. Now they must not only battle the unknown dangers of the underground, but they must also face secret fears within themselves.
Suspenseful and mysterious, this tale of making choices and survival will fascinate young adult readers. Although set in Scotland, the archetypal characters-bully, liar, punk, prankster, and showoff-are universal and well developed. Although the ending is a bit anticlimactic, it retains enough adventurous flavor to keep one guessing as to what is real and what is only a figment of imagination. Fans of mystery with a blend of
unreality will enjoy this quick read.
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