Thursday, July 20, 2006

Going Under by Kathe Koja

Going Under is a novel in which Kathe Koja introduces readers to Hilly and Ivan, sister and brother, but more than that. Before Hilly decided to break away from family, to meet people who were not related to her, and Ivan felt betrayed. To achieve her goal, she joined the literary magazine staff at the local high school. It’s a great activity for her; she has been writing for almost her entire life: essays for her mother, entries to contests, but, most important, her journals. While working on Currents, as the magazine is called, Hilly meets new friends, Kim and Elisha. When Elisha commits suicide, Hilly retreats from the world around her, especially Ivan, and is sent to a psychotherapist. When Ivan tries to get closer to his sister, he is pushed further away, and to cement the separation, he betrays her by establishing his own relationship with the doctor, who is manipulative of both of them, and talking with him about Hilly.

This novel is told in the alternating, very different, voices of Hilly and Ivan. Kathe Koja does a great job of telling the story from the two points of view, and it makes the story much better than it would have been if it were told by only Hilly or only Ivan. Both characters are very well-written and realistic. Going Under is definitely a page-turner; it kept my attention the entire way through, with the brilliant prose that actually sounded more like poetry at times. The ending was great, closing off the story without being too cheerful or unrealistic, which would really have taken away from the overall tone of the story. It doesn’t compare to any other young adult novels; it is, in fact, like nothing I’ve read. Highly original, this story gets into your head and stays there.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 8
Reviewer Age: 15
Reviewer City, State and Country: Asheville, NC USA

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