The Spindlers by Lauren Oliver. Published by Harper (An imprint of HarperCollins Publishers), 2012.
One night when Liza went to bed, Patrick was her chubby, stubby, candy-grubbing and pancake-loving younger brother, who irritated and amused her both, and the next morning, when she woke up, he was not. In fact, he was quite, quite different.
When Liza’s brother, Patrick, changes overnight, Liza knows exactly what has happened: The spindlers have gotten to him and stolen his soul.
She knows, too, that she is the only one who can save him.
To rescue Patrick, Liza must go Below, armed with little more than her wits and a broom. There, she uncovers a vast world populated with talking rats, music-loving moles, greedy troglods, and overexcitable nids . . . as well as terrible dangers. But she will face her greatest challenge at the spindlers’ nests, where she encounters the evil queen and must pass a series of deadly tests–or else her soul, too, will remain Below forever.
From New York Times best-selling author Lauren Oliver comes a bewitching story about the reaches of loyalty, the meaning of love, and the enduring power of hope.
From the publisher (press release):
…dread falls over twelve-year-old Liza as she looks across the breakfast table one morning. Her younger brother, Patrick, appears the same, but she is certain that the spindlers—evil spiderlike beings—came and stole his soul in the middle of the night. And Liza is the only one who can save him.
Armed with little more than her wits and an unusual guide, Liza, descends into the dark and ominous underground to rescue Patrick. Her quest is far from easy, and the road to the spindlers’ nest is riddled with danger. She must brave tree snakes, the Court of Stones, and shape-shifting serpents before facing her greatest challenge in the spindlers’ lair, where more than just Patrick’s soul is at stake.
What do I think about this book?
A confession….I was dreading reading this story! When I first read about the release of this book I had only recently discovered and read Suzanne Collins’s Underland chronicles. Having been completely swept up in that wonderful 5 book series, I convinced myself that another book about a parallel but secret, unknown world beneath our own, could not be as good as Gregor’s adventures in the Underland and if anything, this sounded too similar to that story (see publisher’s press release above). Thankfully I was wrong! The excellent reviews for both this and the author’s previous book gave me the confidence to order it sight unseen. There are some similarities with the Underland Chronicles mainly in setting (a parallel world existing beneath our feet, with giant talking rats) but there is perhaps more in common with Alice’s adventures in Wonderland (where the creatures encountered are more fantastical than the talking but more realistic animals of the Underland) and Coraline (the possession and replacement of Patrick and the opportunity of a happier existence ‘Below’ away from the sibling’s seemingly uncaring parents).
This would suit a slightly younger audience than the Underland Chronicles – which is much gorier and bloodier. I recommend this for 8+ and it would make a good read aloud for families (but not right before bedtime for children afraid of the dark or worried about monsters under the bed!) My own 10 year old thoroughly enjoyed this book and read it over two days.
Lauren Oliver is also the author of ‘Liesl & Po’ which I have also purchased.