It must be pretty daunting to have your book described as a combination of Emma Donoghue’s novel Room and The Hunger Games- after all, they’re such different novels.. Funnily enough, though, Above does have elements of both novels.
The story begins in what I took to be modern day Kansas; 16-year-old Blythe is told by the weird school librarian that her brother has been in an accident and that she has to hurry to go to him. This is just a ruse, however, and the good Samaritan turns out to be a ‘prepper’- someone who is preparing for the apocalypse. He’s also dangerously obsessed with ‘saving’ Blythe.
Part One deals with Blythe’s attempts to cope with her confinement over the course of many years and the descriptions of her breakdown are at times utterly heartbreaking, especially her attempts to make life as normal as possible for her (almost inevitable?) child, Adam. Part Two deals with the trauma of what they find after they escape- and believe me, nothing in the preceding chapters prepares you for what comes next.
I felt that the first section of the book was the strongest; although I didn’t really like Blythe all that much, I felt for her and her predicament. The second part of the book (I don’t want to say too much, because I don’t want to spoil the surprise!) was certainly weaker and the character of Blythe became even more unlikeable. I did understand why she behaved like she did, but I sometimes wished I could have shaken her and told her to get a bit of a grip. Of all the characters, Adam was the most likeable and the one I rooted for. His understandable innocence of the world put me in an interesting position as a reader, as I saw things in a new and interesting way- one that we perhaps forget about as we grow older.
Did it live up to the Room/Hunger Games comparison? Well, I felt the depiction of Blythe’s confinement was well written and I did prefer this novel to Room. However, it’s a bit of a stretch to compare it to The Hunger Games. Yes, there are similarities, but they’re not as well realised.
Source: Bookbridgr for review