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The White Darkness

3.48  ·  Rating details ·  4,229 ratings  ·  707 reviews
I have been in love with Titus Oates for quite a while now--which is ridiculous, since he's been dead for ninety years. But look at it this way. In ninety years I'll be dead, too, and the age difference won't matter.

Sym is not your average teenage girl. She is obsessed with the Antarctic and the brave, romantic figure of Captain Oates from Scott's doomed expedition to the
Hardcover, 373 pages
Published September 1st 2005 by HarperCollins Publishers
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Average rating 3.48  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,229 ratings  ·  707 reviews

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kwesi 章英狮
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Abby Johnson
Jan 23, 2008 rated it did not like it
Recommended to Abby by: Printz award winner
So many people have loved this book... I think it's just not my thing. After the death of her father, 14-year-old Symone, excruciatingly shy hearing-impaired geek with an imaginary friend, is whisked away on a surprise trip to Antarctica by her Uncle Victor. From the start you can sense that something's not right here. Victor's acting fishy, lying to Sym about their destination, stealing her mother's passport so she can't come with them... and things just get bleaker and bleaker as the journey g ...more
Nov 13, 2008 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kara Babcock
I really am not an adventurous person. Moving to England—having never lived on my own before—aside, I’m not the sort of person who enjoys embarking on “expeditions”. I took a trip up to Edinburgh back in October, and that was adventurous enough for me for a few months. These days, a train to Norwich is about as much adventure as I can muster. I read National Geographic and watch the Discovery Channel and soak up all these stories of adventure and exploration vicariously—but I cannot imagine actu ...more
Mar 07, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
A gorgeous book. Shocking when someone pure and innocent--not just because she is young--many of her peers are far more worldly-wise than she--is manipulated by those she trusts--she has no idea what is real and what is not. Her whole existence, the whole story she's been told is just based on other people's manipulation of the facts. I'm still not certain whether those who manipulated the facts were conscious that they were doing so. It is yet another great example of the ills of fanaticism, no ...more
Candice M (tinylibrarian)
Jan 30, 2008 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: masochists, fans of Lars von Trier films
Shelves: award-winners
When I think about this book, all I want to do is sigh. Sigh because it was a frustrating read, sigh because of the main character's situation throughout most of the book, and sigh that it won the Printz.

I read it, and I read it fast. I stayed up all night to finish this mother. I was *so* worried about this girl's retarded fate that I couldn't sleep! I needed to find out what happened! So in that sense, yes, it was excellent. In the sense that the story traps you like you've gotten snowed in w
Aug 10, 2017 rated it liked it
This book was better than I thought it would be. Set mostly in Antarctica, it starts out like a typical YA novel, with 14 year old Sym telling us how she's bullied at her school in England, is shy, and doesn't fit in. Obsessed with Antarctica and the doomed 1911 expedition, she frequently confides in her imaginary friend, Captain Oates, who was one of the explorers.

But when her uncle Victor takes her on a trip to Antarctica, it soon turns into something more horrible than she ever suspected it w
Mar 11, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: young-adult
I have a friend who says she can tell if she’ll love a movie with the first ten minutes. And I can often say the same for a book; I can tell I love it within the first twenty pages or so. But The White Darkness took me until page 73 to get really hooked. And then I couldn’t put it down. It’s about a teenage girl, Symone, who gets her dream vacation: a trip to Antarctica. She is obsessed with Antarctica and one of its brave explorers, Captain Oates from Scott’s doomed expedition to the South Pole ...more
Aug 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Vivid, harrowing, and highly unusual. Sym is a strange sort of heroine: locked up in her own head, where she converses constantly with Titus Oates, the romantic and tragic army man of Scott's expedition to the Antarctic. Sam's Uncle Victor regularly assures her that she is not bright, not charming, but he still takes her along on the trip of a lifetime to the Antarctic. But Sym is not what Uncle Victor says, and neither is he. Or anyone, really.

Fascinating and strange, and very, VERY stressful!
P. Kirby
Nov 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ghosts, ya, contemporary
This novel gave me frostbite by proxy.

Much younger me loved the cold, but somewhere along the road of life, my inner heater started failing, and now 60-degrees F gives me chilblains. Thank the dear and fuzzy wuzzy lord for intrepid explorers and filmmakers who bring visions of Antarctica into the warm comfort of my living room. Because no place is gorgeous enough to justify skin freezing on contact with the air.

Fourteen-year-old Sym is in love with an older man--sort of--Titus Oates, a member of
A young girl named Symone is taken without her mother's permission by her "uncle" on a trip to the Antarctic. Uncle is obsessed with the idea of a world or worlds within the Earth and is convinced that the access portal to these worlds lies at the South Pole. Sym is a whole lot naive and completely too trusting of this uncle but as the story goes on she becomes more and more aware of how crazy her uncle is. The trip is dangerous with hazards you can't even imagine and is driven by the obsessed m ...more
Apr 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: 8th grade and up
"What! Whoa!" was the chorus running through my head as I read this highly unusual story, this year's Printz Award winner. Although it took a while to get going, it quickly morphed into a layered mystery, narrated by 14-year-old British girl Sym, who accompanies her Uncle Victor (and her imaginary friend, the Artic explorer "Titus" Oates) on a trip to Paris which turns into a trip to Antarctica (!!) and a survival story unlike any other. Pair with "Life As We Knew It" for two great survival-girl ...more
Jan 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing
In this brilliantly crafted story of madness and despair comes the story of teenage Sym who is whisked away from her normal teenage anxieties to face the bleak desolation of Antarctica and her uncle's obsession. Sym is a normal British teen, unpopular boys and the butt of many jokes with her friends. Her father has died rather tragically, but Sym finds solace by insulating herself in a fictional world where her principal friend is an incarnation of Captain Lawerence Oates, who lead an ill-fated ...more
Feb 27, 2009 rated it liked it
This was a very good book from a literary standpoint. It is however, not a "fun" read. It is a Printz award winner for the best book of the year for young adults, and deservedly so.

It is a tale of a teen from England who gets taken on a surprise trip to Antartica with her uncle. Symone's (Sym) story quickly turns into a survival tale, as she deals with an increasingly manic uncle.

What helps Sym get through is her imaginary relationship with a long dead artic explorer. This character is more rea
REVIEW: Adventure Danger in Antarctica. Shy, imaginative, memorable teen protagonist (Symone). Adult characters are useless, demented, or dangerous. Will Sym survive?

VERDICT: Rounded up to 3 stars since I am not a Young Adult.
Breakdown: 4 stars for Sym, 0.5 stars for the idiot adults, 3.75 stars for the writing. Averages to ~2.75 stars.

BONUS POINTS FOR: (view spoiler)
Oct 06, 2013 rated it liked it
14-year-old Symone Wates is more than a bit socially awkward (her obvious hearing aids don't help). But thanks to her obsession with the doomed Scott Antarctic Expedition, she's got a pretty solid relationship with Lawrence "Titus" Oates, a member of the team -- even if he does exist only in her head. When family friend "Uncle" Victor, who shares her obsession, takes Sym on a surprise trip to actual Antarctica, her knowledge of the geography and what it takes to survive will be put to the test a
Apr 21, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: teen-fiction
Fourteen year-old Sym seems to be trapped in her own mind, her deafness, shyness, and social naiveté make her an outcast at school. Her father's death has made her mother distant and invited her eclectic uncle into bring the family out of a financial burden. However, when her uncle, who feeds her love for all things about Antarctica, encourages the family to take a trip, Sym gets whisked away from her mother and thrown into a dangerous adventure in the icy continent with her uncle. His drive for ...more
Gracie Classon
Jul 05, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: class-16-20
This was on the required reading list for YA Lit. This was the worst book I read all semester, and I'm sad that this is the last book on my list. I might have to squeeze another book into my schedule just to get the taste out of my mouth before the end of the semester. End on a good note. This book was long and boring. The author used 370 pages when 200 would have been fine. I kept waiting to get into it or to care at all for the story or the characters, but it just never happened. I started to ...more
May 23, 2008 rated it it was ok
Hmm. I just could not get into this. I went the obligatory 50+ pages, but then I left it at home when I went away for 3 days and found I had no desire to go back to it. The narrator seemed way too naive about her uncle, and I couldn't get into the Arctic exploring aspect or the discussions with the long dead explorer.
Dec 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kid-lit
Really excellent YA novel about a girl who is obsessed with Antarctica, and the uncle who kidnaps her and takes her there.
Jul 30, 2017 rated it liked it
Interesting plot twists and an author who really likes poetic justice. Still a lot of wandering around freezing to death, but not as dry as I expected because Sym is a complex character. It does seem a little unbelievable that the girl who couldn't speak a coherent sentence becomes vindictive and even flirty within the course of a week. Not sure if I'd give it any awards, but a decent read.

"Everyone needs a reason to stay alive - someone who justifies your existence. Someone who loves you. Not
Marissa (Laudable Lit)
Need to think on this, but for now... Actual rating: 2.5 stars.

"When I am old, I shall stand on street corners with a bullhorn and harangue passersby about the moral decline in uncles."

^^ I hope Sym lives up to this promise. "Moral decline in uncles" is definitely the best description for this book. And, trust me, the plot is a lot less exciting than I'm making it sound.

Possible RTC
raphael ✧
this book would’ve been SO MUCH shorter if the main character had just stopped being a doormat
Clare Snow
I read this when I worked in public libraries and it scarred me for life. Also, won't be visiting Antarctica any time soon.
Marta Boksenbaum
Feb 17, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: teen-lit
This novel follows quiet and shy Sym as her Antarctic-obsessed Uncle Victor whirls her off on a surprise journey to the frozen wilderness and the events that lead her to a survival adventure that parallels her personal hero and imaginary friend Captain Oates’ expedition in the South Pole. Sym is so shy that she only talks to her imagined love Captain Oates that she built up from her reading on the expedition. The novel centers on her internal dialogue though conversations with this character. He ...more
Rebecca Ann
I loved this book...but I can see why you might either love or hate it. The conflict is multifaceted: a person, a landscape, and the main character's mind. All three of these aspects develop quite slowly, so if you need a faster-paced novel or a clear-cut villain it may not appeal to you. The book also has a lot of symbolic aspects and devices, maybe too many (Titus, the bound princess, the letters...etc). A lot of the plot stretches the limits of realism, so if you come into this looking for a ...more
Aj Sterkel
Oct 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult
This book reminds me of my childhood. When I was around the age of the main character, Sym, I also had an obsession with Antarctica. Just like Sym, I had a shelf full of “ice books.” I read everything I could about Scott’s failed attempt to reach the South Pole in the early 1900s. Also like Sym, I was more comfortable with my imagination than with real people. It’s eerie to find a fictional character who is so similar to fourteen-year-old me.

Sym is obsessed with Antarctica, so she is thrilled wh
Nov 06, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: teen
Fourteen-year-old Sym knows all there is to know about Antarctica—the landscape, the history, the explorers and how they survived (or didn't). Especially dear to her is Captain Oates of the failed Scott expedition of 1, in whom she confides all of her hopes, dreams, and fears within her head, a character all his own within the book. When her Uncle Victor surprises her with a trip down south—way south—she is thrilled. But Victor is not telling her everything, and she eventually finds herself on t ...more
May 29, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: libs-678-class
**Printz Award**

Reading the description and reviews of this book, I really thought I was going to love it but I struggled and struggled to really get into the story. As someone who is also fascinated with nature and, as a child, dreamt of traveling to far-off places to find all kinds of things I thought I would find more of a connection with the main character Sym (Symone). Symone trvales with her Uncle Victor, who has taught her about the Antarctic and the expeditions to find something called S
Nov 29, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Ages 11-15
Shelves: juvenilia
McCaughrean, Geraldine. The White Darkness, HarperTempest, 373 pages. Fictional chapter book, mystery.

Description: Symone is obsessed with Antarctica, particularly with early 20th century Antarctic explorers. In fact, she can apparently communicate with the spirit of a departed explorer named Titus. When her uncle takes her to Antarctica to find the mythical Symmes Hole, she must act rationally under mysterious circumstances.

Review: The White Darkness is filled with twists, turns, hardships an
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Geraldine McCaughrean was born in 1951 and brought up in North London. She studied at Christ Church College of Education, Canterbury and worked in a London publishing house for 10 years before becoming a full-time writer in 1988. She has written over 120 books, 50 short plays for schools, and a radio play.

Her adult novels include Fires’ Astonishment (1990) and The Ideal Wife (1997), but she is bes

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