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In Darkness

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  3,890 ratings  ·  629 reviews
In darkness I count my blessings like Manman taught me. One: I am alive. Two: there is no two. In the aftermath of the Haitian earthquake a boy is trapped beneath the rubble of a ruined hospital: thirsty, terrified and alone. 'Shorty' is a child of the slums, a teenage boy who has seen enough violence to last a lifetime, and who has been inexorably drawn into the world of ...more
Paperback, 337 pages
Published January 5th 2012 by Bloomsbury Publishing
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Anh Gordon This is not appropriate for a younger reader but not for the reasons you are concerned about. There is no sexual content. There is a lot of violence a…moreThis is not appropriate for a younger reader but not for the reasons you are concerned about. There is no sexual content. There is a lot of violence and relatively detailed descriptions of the violence--political violence and gangster violence. There is a lot of language--cursing on almost every page of the "Now" parts, since one of the 2 protagonists is a gangster. Finally, there is a lot of description of the abject poverty that Haitians live in. It is a haunting book and I would not recommend for younger than 16 and even then, I would not recommend for a 16 year old who is of the sensitive nature. (less)

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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

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
Dec 16, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Apr 17, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"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
Jun 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
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,
Feb 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 04, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
Dec 04, 2015 rated it liked it
The "now" part of this novel follows a boy named Shorty who lies trapped in the rubble of a collapsed hospital, surrounded by the dead bodies and scavengers. Shorty has grown up in the slums of Port-au-Prince, often dubbed "the most dangerous place on earth." As he drifts in and out of consciousness, we learn how Shorty ended up in the hospital, and linked to a thug, patterned after Biggie. The "then" part follows the life of Toussaint l'Ouverture and his leadership in emancipation of the slaves ...more
Dec 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: made-me-think
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
Mar 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
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. ...more
Ashleigh Rose
Oct 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow. Go read this now. This is, without a doubt, the best book I have read in a while. If you like reading about any of the following things, you will adore this book: teenagers, urban underclass, poverty, Haiti, strength in the face of despair, love, family, earthquakes, slums, historical fiction, or slave revolts. Nick Lake is an incredible writer who I would personally like to thank for this work of literature.
Barbara Band
Mar 18, 2013 rated it did not like it
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
Nov 01, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Combining elements of history, drama, and science-fiction, Lake weaves a powerful tale of survival and death set in the beleaguered nation of Haiti Of course one finds racism, violence, and voodoo in the plot --it wouldn't be a Haitian tale without these elements. But Lake skillfully molds the story to incorporate them seamlessly. It is a rather complex tale for a YA novel, raising the bar as the winner of the Printz Award. Unlike many YA titles, it delves into character development and the rela ...more
Andy  Stamp
Jun 17, 2013 rated it liked it
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
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
~✡~Dαni(ela) ♥ ♂♂ love & semi-colons~✡~
Even though Shorty, who narrates the "Now" portion of the story, is 15, this is not a YA novel. Not many teens know anything about Haitian history or would be able to follow the "Then" flashbacks, slum culture references, or slang doled out in three languages. The story is told in a stream of consciousness narrative as Shorty lies dying in the rabble of a collapsed hospital following an earthquake.

Certain he's dying, Shorty talk about his life, including his beloved twin sister who vanished wit
May 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: printz
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
Jan 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
This was an excellent audiobook. The story was captivating with a brutal honesty that left me feeling a sense of hopelessness, but then as it continued, I found a lighter energy in the words and such a sense of relief for Shorty and Toussant to have found each other, even through the 200 years difference in their individual lives. It was a strange feeling at the end, sadness mixed with happiness.
I can also only rave about the narrator, his voice was fantastic and easily transported me to Haiti
Well this book is deep. I did not intend to get into vodou, maji, zombis and anpil Hatian slang..
You get all that and more--this book is set in the heart of Haiti and is heavily peppered with Haitian Creole slang and vocabulary which is basically thrown at you many times so you get used to it but it is jarring at first for sure....Not really knowing what to expect I was floored with the new language and heavy content..the book starts without much introduction except it is dark..the dark talks to
Jul 09, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020-books
I enjoyed about half of this book. The story about Touissant and his liberation of Haiti is compelling and well-told, but I found Shorty’s side of the story to feel very forced. It sounded like an adult trying to talk like a kid who thinks he’s cool. I don’t know; Shorty’s story didn’t capture my attention the same way as Touissant’s. I did love Touissant’s story though - I just wish the author hadn’t attributed his ability to read and write to voodoo. That was such a cop out from what Touissant ...more
Lorna Satchwell
Jan 11, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This is an amazing story! I could read it over and over! It’s the kind of story that makes you want to do research. It widens you up. Loved this!
Aug 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ya
It felt a little forced the way Lake made Toussaint and Shorty merge across time, but both the history of the Haitian revolution and the present-day story of gangsterism in Site Solèy were gripping. I most especially loved the insurrectionary politics of the past:

"— This is the white nation of Haiti, he said. Nothing but a house of cards. We outnumber them. They hold their dominion over us through a kind of mental trick, making what is delicate and weak seem solid.
He blew on the cards, made the
Kate White
Dec 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book was really good until the ending. I really liked this book and what it stood for and how it brought light to certain topics we as Americans don’t like to address or talk about. However, the ending was a total cop out.
In Darkness by Nick Lake was published in 2012, soon after the world shaking earthquake that hit Haiti in 2010. I haven’t read any other books by this author or about this type of topic, but I am curious to read more. Lake uses the native language of Creole, also writing
Jul 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
BAYA Librarian
Jul 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
May 21, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 19, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  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
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
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
Sep 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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My name is Nick and I write and edit books for young adults. My first YA novel IN DARKNESS, was published by Bloomsbury in 2012 and won the Michael L Printz Award for Excellence in YA Literature. I also wrote a book called HOSTAGE THREE about a girl kidnapped by Somali pirates.

THERE WILL BE LIES is coming in January 15 and is about a girl who learns that everything she knows is a lie. To say it's

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