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In Darkness

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3.71 of 5 stars 3.71  ·  rating details  ·  1,903 ratings  ·  463 reviews
This is the story of "Shorty"-a 15-year-old boy trapped in a collapsed hospital during the earthquake in Haiti. Surrounded by the bodies of the dead, increasingly weak from lack of food and water, Shorty begins to hallucinate. As he waits in darkness for a rescue that may never come, a mystical bridge seems to emerge between him and Haitian leader Toussaint L'Ouverture, un...more
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Published January 11th 2012 by Bloomsbury U.S.A. Children's Books (first published January 5th 2012)
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Emily May

“This is a work of fiction. That said, much in it is true. If you were hoping that some of the more unpleasant things you have just read were made up, then I apologise.” - Nick Lake, Author's Note

1791-1804
Toussaint L'ouverture turned his dreams of creating an independent, free black state into reality when he led the Haitian revolution. This revolution is, to this day, regarded as one of the most successful slave uprisings of all time and is the only one of its kind which led to the founding of...more
Jo
Teetering between 4 and 4.5.

“Death will continue… There will be a steady and endless stream of the dead, filling the land under the sea that can never be filled.
But this is not sad
This is beautiful
.
The beauty of this is that when you die there will always be someone waiting, there will always be those you have lost, standing there, the curve of their back and the stance of their feet so familiar. There will always be someone there, saying:

-We have waited so long. It is so good to see you. Come h...more
Ela
"I knew even then that they bought drugs. I just didn't care.
Why would you care? I lived in a place where it was common to eat mud."


In 2010 when Haiti is hit by an a boy is trapped in the ruins of a hospital. As he lies in the darkness he recounts the story of his life; how he lost his family, he joined a gang and how he was shot. Alongside his story runs the story of Toussaint, a slave in Haiti 1791 who leads a rebellion to abolish slavery.

Bad Points
-It took me about 50 pages to stop being bor...more
Jessica
I didn't enjoy this book. It's hard to enjoy a book on a topic like this.

"Shorty" is trapped when the hospital collapses during the recent, devastating Haitian earthquake. He thinks back on his life, and the horrors he's seen, the violence that he's been a part of, as he tries to dig himself out of the rubble. He also hallucinates or possesses Toussaint l'Ouverture, the 19th century slave who led the rebellion that freed the black people of Haiti.

Neither story is very happy.

I had a hard time,...more
Suzanne
If I haven't already done so, I like to read the Printz winner each year, so I gave this one a fairly substantial try, getting about 2/3 of the way through the twin tales of a current day Haitian boy trapped in the rubble of a hospital after the earthquake and that of Tousssaint L'Overture, leader of the slave revolt against the French some two centuries before. The two share a psychic link that allows each to see, hear, and understand some of what the other is experiencing in his time of terror...more
Jan
This book is the 2013 Michael Printz winner and it absolutely deserves it.

The book is set in Haiti and toggles back and forth in time between the 2010 devastating earthquake and the beginning of Haiti's struggle to free itelf from its oppressors. Shorty, a 15 year old gang member who lives in the slums of Port au Prince, is taken to the hospital shortly before the earthquake and is now trapped beneath the collapsed building. As he waits for rescue, Shorty revisits his past and also begins to ex...more
Wendy
Compelling and a quick read. I don't feel qualified to comment on the accuracy or genuineness of the book, but it certainly makes an impression. I was most interested in the Toussaint L'Ouverture story, but also read with wide eyes about the young aid workers taken in by the glamor of the gangster. Whether it is better than Code Name Verity is something I won't commit to--certainly it is a little riskier--but I will allow that I can see how a committee might think it is as good as CNV.
Andy  Stamp
Author Nick Lake tells the story of a young man trapped in darkness not knowing where he is and uncertain of what is happening around him and he invites us into his tale, a story of gang life, of sibling separation and a dynamic overview of political war whilst the foundation of Haiti is being lain down by Toussaint L’Overture, a rebel forming a slavery rebellion.

What is most striking about this novel is the ideas and attitude behind it doesn’t necessarily mean it is a young person’s novel. Thi...more
Sarah
Nick Lake has written a shockingly dark novel about Haiti, sharing two perspectives on the country's troubled history. Our first narrator is "Shorty," a fourteen-year-old gang member who is caught in the rubble of the Haiti earthquake. The hospital collapses on him while he is being treated for a gunshot wound. The next narrator is Toussiant l'Overture, the historical figure who led the Haitian Revolution against French colonization in the 18th century. Through some mystical voodoo vortex, the t...more
Barbara
Well, I've finally finished this book but, if it hadn't been on the Carnegie shortlist, I would have abandoned it long ago. The basic story is good, quite intriguing and interesting but this is so buried in Haitian words, French phrases, ghetto slang than you struggle to get past all that. Some of the words I knew, some I made an educated guess at because of the context but many of them I really had no idea. And I do wonder how many teenagers/young adults are going to enjoy this. Most of them wo...more
Kara
Wow. Haunting. This was brutal and beautiful at the same time, and I raced to find out what happened and now want to go back and re-read. I read the book Taste of Salt years ago, another YA book set in Haiti, and it has always stayed with me. So the setting of this book, and its real life characters and brutal history tinged with hope, always with hope, were familiar and captivating. Nick Hall does with "ideas" what Zusak did with "stories" in The Book Thief, and there are passages and recurring...more
Karen
In Darkness, by Nick Lake, is an intertwined story about a 15 year old boy, Shorty, who gets trapped in a hospital after an earthquake in Haiti, and Toussaint l'Ouverture, who is leading one of the greatest slave revolutions in Haiti in the late 1700s. As Shorty is stuck with no food or water, he begins to hallucinate about Toussaint. At the same time (actually hundreds of years earlier), Toussaint is leading a great slave revolution, but he is also dreaming of a Haiti where there are not slaves...more
Mia
I just finished this book (about thirty minutes ago) and as heart-wrenching and dark as it was at times, it addressed some really important topics that, admittedly, aren't too easy to translate into YA historical fiction.

It's written in two interwoven tales- one taking place in the 1700s revolving around Toussaint l'Overture, who freed his country from slavery, and one in present day, telling the story of a boy named Shorty, both taking place in Haiti. One amazing thing about it was that Haiti...more
Jesse
Every once in a while you read something that you can only describe as a "good book". The writing is awesome, the characters unique, and the storyline captivating. In Darkness is one of those books. Winner of the 2013 Printz award for young adult literature, I've been meaning to read this one for a year now. I don't know why I kept putting it off because I very much enjoyed this book. The dual protagonists reminded me a lot of Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly which is always a good thing. While t...more
BAYA Librarian
Shorty gains consciousness in the dark, trapped by the fallen walls of the hospital ward in which he was recovering from a gunshot wound. He wonders if he’s dead, a ghost cursed to live in shadows forever, but his needs of thirst and hunger convince him otherwise. Struggling to survive, Shorty laps blood pooled on the floor, wondering if it’s his own or another’s. But he senses no other life besides the scuttling of rats. His world before this wreckage was equally brutal – gangs, guns, deprivati...more
Sarah
Name: Sarah Fretz

Citation: Lake, N. (2012). In darkness. New York: Bloomsbury.

Genre: Multicultural

Award: 2013 Michael L. Printz Book Award Winner

Format: Audiobook

Selection: YALSA's 2013 Best Fiction for Young Adults

Review: Fifteen year old Shorty wakes up in a Haitian hospital after being shot, surrounded by structural debris from the Haitian earthquake of 2010. Dehydrated and lying in the darkness awaiting rescue, Shorty reminisces to what landed him in this rubble in the first place. He looks...more
Lindsey
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao gives a good background on the rocky history in the Dominican Republic as well as showing the current state of the country. This book does the same for Haiti.

In alternating chapters, we hear from "Shorty" and Toussaint. "Shorty" shows a disturbing side of slum life in Haiti called the "site," where two rival gangs rule (Route 9 and Boston). According to the author's note at the end of the book, this Haitian slum is believed to be the most dangerous place in...more
Stephanie
Occasionally I come across a book that’s not so much a story as it is an exploration of place and setting. Nick Lake’s In Darkness, a diachronic account of Haiti taking place over the tumultuous post-earthquake present and its revolutionary past. Lake draws a number of parallels between the two, and there’s an omnipresent sense of fervour and chaos throughout.

We see the Haiti of the past through the eyes of the revolutionary Touissaint L’Ouverture as he leads a slave uprising, but also through t...more
Helen Stower
Switching between Haiti in 2010 at the time of the earthquake and 18th century Haiti at the time Toussaint L'ouberture was leading Haitian slaves to freedom, this novel skillfully draws the reader into Haitian life, history and culture.

Nick Lake uses the practice of Vodou as a device to connect modern Haiti to historical Haiti. This is extremely effective because Vodou remains one of the constants in Haiti. This device also broadens the reader's knowledge of Vodou beyond a crude perception that...more
Emily
The 3 rating for this book is a complicated 3. I really didn't like it. I do like learning more about parts of the world I am really ignorant about. I knew absolutely nothing about Haiti. Of course I was upset when I heard about and saw the footage from the earthquake a few years ago (this book is partially about that).

This book is partly historical fiction. There is a present day story of a little boy (teenagerish I guess) trapped in the rubble after the earthquake. There is also the story of...more
Anna
May 23, 2013 Anna rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Anna by: Carnegie 2013
This is a grim book but very well written. Shorty is a teenage boy trapped under the rubble in the aftermath of the Haitian earthquake. While he is trapped he recounts his life to 'the voices' and the voudou deities in an attempt to keep a grip on his sanity. His twin sister was abducted when he was young and the missing part of his soul connects to that of Touissant D'LOverture, the Haitian ex-slave from the 1780s, who abolished slavery and established independence.

Shorty never achieves greatn...more
Crystal Bandel
In Darkness by Nick Lake, published 2012.

Magic realism.

Novel, e-book.

Grades 9-12.

Found via School Library Journal, reviewed by Gerry Larson.

Shorty is a boy trying to survive in Haiti, one of the world's poorest countries. With his father dead, this twin sister missing, and his mother to support, Shorty falls into a gang just to get by. In Darkness opens with Shorty trapped in rubble following the Haitian earthquake of 2010, unsure of what's going on and with nothing to do but reflect on his life...more
Kathleen Dixon
Like everybody else I know, I followed the news of the earthquake in Haiti and in the process learned a lot more about Haiti's history than I had already known. Like so many of these places founded on slavery, it continues to have struggles and dreadful poverty. Nick Lake's book gives us a fascinating look at both the history and at the current situation, neither of which fill us with much hope. We look through the eyes of a fictional boy who tells his story while surviving in the pitch darkness...more
Joella www.cinjoella.com
Shorty is trapped in a hospital that has collapsed in the big earthquake in Haiti a few years ago. He is all alone. Everyone else with him in the hospital has been crushed and killed. He can feel the death in their hands and understands it as the rats move around feasting. Yet as he is fighting the thirst and starvation, he also starts to dream that he is someone from the past–someone who dreams for a better life for Haiti–someone named Toussaint l’Ouverture, the one who helped Haiti step on the...more
Syndey
Oh. My. Goodness.

Nick Lake has written a phenomenal story. He did so with such emotion and horrific facts that I was teetering back and forth on the brink of shock and tears. There were so many facts interlaced through the entire story, it's almost as if IN DARKNESS was written as non-fiction.

Lake did an amazing job with explaining the devastation of the 2010 Haiti Earthquake. Life details of slave and black revolutionary leader Toussaint L'Ouverture were intertwined with the present day charac...more
Kate
Kate Kearns Book review #1
In Darkness
While residing in a hospital in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti, Shorty's life takes a turn for the worst. He is buried alive under the rubble of the hospital because of an earthquake. When awake, Shorty, a fifteen year old boy tells us the story of his life up until the quake.This man from the past was believed to be the savior. Years later, a man who saved Shorty from death was believed to be the savior of his time. These visions and stories Shorty is telling and se...more
Brianna Bizzaro
Name: Brianna Bizzaro
APA citation: Lake, N. (2012). In darkness. London, England: Bloomsbury Publishing
Genre: Historical Fiction
Award : Printz Award (2013), Carnegie Medal in Literature Nominee (2013)
Format: Print
Selection process: 2013 Printz Award List

In the aftermath of the Haitian earthquake, Shorty is trapped. He never envisioned his hospital visit to fix a bullet wound to turn out like this. Encased in his own tomb made from rubble and corpses, In Darkness begins to spin a tale of two men....more
Chris
A dystopia.

Haiti is on a fault line, you should understand that. It's like the whole country is cursed; we're on a crack in the world, and everything in Haiti is cracked, too. We're a broken country.

In the middle of reading this, I started seeing it as a dark, bleak dystopian tale. Not in the typical sense--it's not set in the future and isn't so speculative, after all--but for those of us not part of the setting it functions in many of the same ways. Except that it's bleaker, more disturbing, a...more
Rebecca
In Darkness/ Nick Lake/ 2012

Genre: Fiction/Haiti

Format: Book

Summary: This is the story of "Shorty"-a 15-year-old boy trapped in a collapsed hospital during the earthquake in Haiti. Surrounded by the bodies of the dead, increasingly weak from lack of food and water, Shorty begins to hallucinate. As he waits in darkness for a rescue that may never come, a mystical bridge seems to emerge between him and Haitian leader Toussaint L'Ouverture, uniting the two in their darkest suffering-and their hope...more
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My name is Nick and I write and edit books for children and young adults. I wrote a vampire ninja trilogy called BLOOD NINJA but nowadays I mainly do what could perhaps be described as literary thrillers. The first of these, IN DARKNESS, was published by Bloomsbury in 2012. The second, HOSTAGE THREE, came out January 2013 in the UK and is coming October 2013 in the USA. The third, as yet untitled,...more
More about Nick Lake...
Blood Ninja (Blood Ninja, #1) Hostage Three The Revenge of Lord Oda (Blood Ninja, #2) The Betrayal of the Living (Blood Ninja, #3) The Secret Ministry of Frost

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“When you keep hurting someone, you do one of three things. Either you fill them up with hate, and they destroy everything around them. Or you fill them up with sadness, and they destroy themselves. Or you fill them up with justice, and they try to destroy everything that's bad and cruel in this world. Me, I was the first kind of person.” 21 likes
“It's like she had a soul that was much too big for her; it filled her to the brim till there was no more space, so it flowed out through her eyes.” 20 likes
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