Rebecca's Reviews > The White Darkness

The White Darkness by Geraldine McCaughrean
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's review
Apr 07, 2008

it was amazing
Recommended for: 8th grade and up
Read in April, 2008

"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 protagonists, but only if you really, REALLY want to appreciate the comforts of civilization.

Incredible writing and imagery, too. Favorite quotes (advance apologies, I had a lot):

"Like everything perfect, he set up a ferocious pain inside me -- a flickering, griping sort of pain, because nothing as marvelous as that is ever within reach, is it? Nothing as beautiful can ever last."

"'Give my love to...' I began to say, but I could think of no one in England who wanted it."

"When Titus speaks, I can hear every word. For me, that's like when the optician slides home the right lens and all the e's and g's and o's and c's become perfectly clear again and it isn't a struggle, even to read the bottom-most line...His voice touches places inside me like someone moving through a house, flicking light switches...No peering into corners for what's been said."

"For some crime committed by my ancestors in the dark and forgotten days, I came into the world already tarred and feathered. With shyness. It hurts terribly -- every bit as much as hot tar choking every pore -- and I wish I could be rid of it. But it hurts a lot less than having someone try and peel the shyness off. That's like being flayed alive."

"The interior? That empty, featureless plateau, rising up and up to high-altitude nothingness with no feature fixing its center -- it mesmerized me. The idea of it took me in thrall. It was so empty, so blank, so clean, so dead. Surely, if I was ever to set foot down there, even I might finally exist. Surely, in this Continent of Nothingness, anything -- anyone -- had to be hugely alive by comparison!"

"There are things roaming around inside my head as clever as Theseus in the Labyrinth. It's just that nobody ever gave them the necessary piece of string, so they'll never find their way out."

"You have to do things sometimes to strengthen your courage muscles."

"Every crime like this needs someone like me to look away and say nothing."

"'Don't struggle too hard to understand people, Sym. They're hideously complicated. Unhappy people do the oddest, most terrible things, just trying to keep despair at bay. All you have to do is accept them...go around them...take evasive action.'"

"'All right, all right, Titus. But it's like throwing dinner rolls at a charging rhino is all I'm saying.'"

"That's how it's done, you see. It's the same way people get horses out of burning buildings. When the whole world's on fire around you, you use a blindfold. Everyone needs someone like Titus for a blindfold."

"It's true: Everyone needs a reason to stay alive -- someone who justifies your existence. Someone who loves you. Not beyond all reaon. Just loves you. Even just shows an interest. Even someone who doesn't exist, or isn't yours. No, no! They don't even have to love you! They just have to be there to love! Target for your arrows. Magnetic Pole to drag on your compass needle and stop it spinning and tell you where you're heading and...Someone to soak up all the yearning. That's what I think."
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Tamara Whoa, trying to "peel the shyness off" and "someone to soak up all the yearning." I think I have to read this book. And to think I almost missed the quotes!

Rebecca Yes. I think you would love the writing in this book. I'm glad you went back to see the quotes; I got carried away but couldn't stop myself!!

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