Kit Gordy was thrilled to be going to Blackwood School for Girls until she found out that her best friend, Tracy, wasn't accepted. Now, as her mother...moreKit Gordy was thrilled to be going to Blackwood School for Girls until she found out that her best friend, Tracy, wasn't accepted. Now, as her mother and new step-dad head off to Europe for a lengthy honeymoon, Kit is being sent to a fancy boarding school friendless. The moment Kit arrives on campus she's overcome by a feeling of evil emanating from the school, but her parents dismiss her concerns. She learns she is one of only four students attending the school and realizes she'll be getting an excellent education with specialized one-on-one instruction. But then weird things start to happen at Blackwood. Kit and the other girls start having nightmares and wake up to a freezing chill in the room, convinced that someone was in the room with them. Then the girls start to exhibit extraordinary talents never seen before. As Kit's suspicions about the school grow she begins to dig into the past of the headmistress, Madame Duret. Something evil is going on at Blackwood School for Girls, and Kit needs to discover what it is before it consumes her and the other girls.
I've read a few books by Lois Duncan and have come to expect well-paced plots that continue to build in suspense and "Down a Dark Hall" did not disappoint. The author has timed the release of information perfectly in this story. You're given pieces of the mystery bit by bit so you don't know exactly what's going on in the story until nearly the very end. In this way the author keeps you engaged by allowing you to form your own theories while building the suspense. It is evident that the book was written in the '70s by the clothing descriptions ("He was wearing a pale blue shirt, open at the throat, and a pair of white flaired pants" p.52) and certain phrases used in sentences ("Whatever is wrong, darling? It's a quaint-looking place, but it's really rather wonderful" p.11). However, I didn't think that these few instances of dating took away from the story. I did find that the book ended a little abruptly. There were a few minor unanswered questions and very little in the way of a conclusion. It seemed that once you reached the climax the end of the book was the very next page. Overall, though, it was a creative and suspenseful story that I would recommend to all paranormal and mystery lovers.(less)
After Mr. Deary's outlandish comments about libraries, I decided to read one of his books that I had in the library collection to see if his arrogance...moreAfter Mr. Deary's outlandish comments about libraries, I decided to read one of his books that I had in the library collection to see if his arrogance is justified. It is not.
The fictional part of the book is only 47 pages long, and yet I found instances where the main character, Ilya Piankoff, was called by the last name of Velikhov throughout chapter 5, and by the first name of Yuri randomly through the book. The character of Armando Diaz was also called by the last name of Moreno. Is it that hard to look through 47 pages to make sure your character names remain the same throughout the book? I was able to wade through these oversights and understand which character was meant, but children -- the intended audience -- would've been much more confused.
The plot itself is extremely contrived. The story does not flow naturally and there are forced twists and developments that I assume are meant to add to the suspense but in actuality lend themselves to confusion. I understand that children are the target audience and they may enjoy random twists in a story, but this book had too many that were not adequately explored or explained for them to be at all successful.
The historical information provided at the end of the book DOES, however, give a good overview of the topics covered in the fictional story. This is perhaps the only redeeming quality of this work.
Let me qualify that I did not read this book looking for things to dislike about it; I would've been this harsh on it regardless of Deary's comments. It was merely his statements that prompted me to read one of his works. This may have been his ploy all along -- to increase readership by making controversial claims -- but this book had already been purchased for this library years ago (and not by me, for the record), AND given that I run this library I did not check this book out. Therefore Deary did not make any more money by my reading of this book, nor did he get yet another library circulation under his belt, which according to him is so unimaginably horrible. (less)
Melinda enters high school friendless. After she called the cops and busted up a party over the summer, all of her old friends refuse to talk to her....moreMelinda enters high school friendless. After she called the cops and busted up a party over the summer, all of her old friends refuse to talk to her. Melinda becomes nearly silent as she tries to prevent herself from thinking of that party and what happened there, but the truth won't stay hidden forever. For the secret to emerge, Melinda will have to speak.
This book addresses a very serious issue that all should be aware of. However, you will need to read this book in order to find out what that issue is. The style of writing allows you to feel the pain that Melinda is experiencing as she is alienated from her peers and has no one to talk to. This is a book that is well received by teenaged girls, and I would recommend it to any female looking for a good book to read. (less)
In Winston Smith’s world there are three superstates: Oceania, Eurasia, and Eastasia, which are always in a state of war with each other. Winston live...moreIn Winston Smith’s world there are three superstates: Oceania, Eurasia, and Eastasia, which are always in a state of war with each other. Winston lives in London, the chief city of Airstrip One in Oceania. The year is 1984, and the ruling government power of Oceania is Big Brother. Its three party slogans are “War Is Peace”, “Freedom Is Slavery”, and “Ignorance Is Strength”. Big Brother is watching the citizens of Oceania, watching for any signs of rebellion or insubordination. For Oceania to win the war it must eliminate the spies in its midst. Any act considered to be treason is punishable by extreme torture and death. Feeling dissatisfied with the way the world is, one day Winston writes in his diary “Down with Big Brother”. Winston has had it with Big Brother. He’s sick of all of its lies and propaganda. He wants to join the Brotherhood, an underground organization devoted to the destruction of Big Brother. Winston knows that by writing in his diary he has signed his own death certificate. He also knows it’s only a matter of time before Big Brother catches him.
“1984” was written in the year 1949 as a cautionary tale. In this book, Orwell’s dark vision of the future provided his insight as to where communism was headed. Has Orwell’s warning made a difference? Will government powers continue to surveil citizens and attempt to control free thought all in the name of public security? Either way, Orwell’s political novel has had a powerful impact on the world. It is a haunting futuristic tale of totalitarianism that defines the dystopian genre. Orwell displays an amazing understanding of politics and caste systems in this book. It is a tough read and definitely makes you think, but it also carries a frightening message about the dangers of giving any ruling government too much power. I would recommend this to those who enjoy political and/or dystopian novels, as well as those who enjoyed Orwell’s “Animal Farm”. (less)