Sarah Brutsch's Reviews > The White Darkness

The White Darkness by Geraldine McCaughrean
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Dec 01, 2011

liked it
bookshelves: engl-420
Read in December, 2011

My sister forewarned me that this would be a stupid book. She read it for her own Adolescent Lit class, and it failed to impress. She summed it up as a disabled girl fantasizing about a long-dead explorer going to live her dream and see Antarctica for herself. And I'm inclined to think anyone who doesn't read past the first few chapters will agree with her.

I can't believe it's the same novel. While I don't love it so much as to put it on my own bookshelf at home, I was still impressed by it. At first, I thought the book was predictable. Manfred Bruch and Sigurd were fairly obvious from the get-go, and I thought I knew how it would all end. But just beyond the halfway mark, what I thought was going to happen came completely unraveled. What I admire most about this book is the characterization. Does it annoy me that Sym has an imaginary friend? Yes. Do I love her British phrases? Also yes. But these are surface things. The novel, though it felt very outlandish and "like-that-would-ever-happen" from the beginning, becomes less about the events and setting and more about the transformation of people, for better or worse. And that's where I find value in the book.

I would recommend it to high school-aged students, though it's not personally my cup of tea. There was a movie-like quality to it--maybe the narrator Sym was too casual or too modern--that put me off. But there's a lot more depth to this book than my sister's summary, and by the end I was no longer annoyed by Sym, but instead admired her.
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