professornana (professornana) wrote,

  • Mood:

going under

Here is another author whose works just knock my socks off, Kathe Koja. Her latest, GOING UNDER, uses the myths of Persephone and Narcissus whose fictional tales mirror the lives of the two main characters of the novel, Hilly and her brother Ivan. Hilly and Ivan have been home schooled. Each is gifted: Hilly's writing sings and Ivan has a talent for leadership. After all, he is the pilot to his sister's copilot role in their relationship. However, when Hilly breaks away from Ivan to work on the literary magazine at the local high school, their relationship takes a precarious turn. The story opens after Hilly has lost a colleague on the literary magazine staff to suicide. Hilly begins to write in secret, not wanting anyone, even her beloved brother, to see what she is writing. Concerned about her behavior, Hilly's parents seek counseling from a psychiatrist. Hilly and Ivan each have a totally different take on Dr. Roland. Now, when they need one another and need to trust one another more than ever, the manipulative Dr. Roland causes the chasm between the two to grow with disastrous results. Are the two condemned to live out their myths?

Koja tackles some interesting topics here. Never does any of it feel topical, however. The voices of the main characters, the careful way in which these characters are revealed will make readers come to the same slow realization of Hilly and Ivan: sometimes adults are well intentioned but powerless and sometimes adults are powerful and have less than honorable intentions. As in BLUE MIRROR and TALK, Koja has created a cast of characters real and flawed and yet oddly endearing so that the reader cares about their fates deeply.

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