3 of 4 people found this review helpful
A depressive but nice read.
9 December, 2013
The book has been awarded with Printz Award in 2008. At some points being awarded is justified but on another point you doubt it.
The story revolves around Sym (Symon), her dream to explore Antarctica like her beloved and pretend friend (though it would be contradicted in the end) Captain Lawrence Oates also known as Titus Oates, the famous and great explorer of Antarctica who had died 90 years ago but not in Sym's head.
Because of her intelligent and obsessive Uncle, Sym lands in Antarctica which is a dream come true for her...which then turns into a living nightmare. People she loves and cares for are showing their true colours and everything is not what it seems.
Though teased and bullied by her friends and classmates for not having the required and expected "social skills" with boys, Sym finds solace in her head in which resides Titus Oates. Sometimes they are riding on his motorbike on the Indian streets and at some other point they are riding in a hot air balloon. She always turns to him if depressed and alone. Which is the reversed case as people tend to talk and socialize instead of 'going' into their heads and relive what's troubling them.
She loves her Uncle and her mother, who are her only family after her father died.
Typical thoughts of teenage girls and their dilemmas, their desire to be loved, their wants to be courageous, their wants to rebel, to express themselves etc. have come to light. And her development as a character and a mature person through her journey(a long one) is acknowledgeable. Her decisions, her dilemmas, her fatigue, feelings even in survival have all been brought out. A strong, genuine and compassionate girl, she thrives to fulfils others' expectation sometimes at her own expense.
Captain Lawrence Oates, though a creation of Sym's head (or not)is gallant, orthodox, problem solver, practical and a pure Gentleman. Though made in the 21st century, in Sym's head (or not!) his "in his prime voice", rich vocabulary, inability to sometimes understand slangs and his constant encouragement for Sym is not looked over by the Author and the readers get instantly attracted to him and he becomes everyone's super hero.
The plot, the theme and the setting: Antarctica is thoroughly researched by the Author and the description of it is quite vivid, but the book is lacking in what is called the right or clear change in scenarios.
This happened with me, at first she was somewhere and then somewhere else without a clear picture as to how she landed there. And there are some instances where you just want to put the book down or even doze off without you knowing about it. There are so many feelings jumbled up inside the teen's head that the reader himself gets confused. But that also symbolizes her state of mind with question of survival and hope looms over her like a shadow. But still creating and making the reader get the crux and thesis is an art in itself. .
And her constant "urge" to tell her friend Nikki (though sometimes in her mind) about her experience, knowing that she wouldn't care, is moving.
Her obsessive but loving Uncle Victor is the only one after her mother who believes in her and calls her his "apprentice". He is in search for something controversial and keeps it a secret. His adamant NEED to achieve his goals...even at the sake of others' living breath unfolds some grave events in the future. At first, he is taken to be as a loving father, but the new development this character makes is striking and makes you gasp. This beloved Uncle of Sym's can be the reason and cause of everything she has lost.
The Author's purpose and intend has been brought home, that everything is not what it seems, what is your wildest dream can be your biggest nightmare, and do not believe someone with blind faith.
The history of Scott, Oates and their companions has been emphasised and included, their role as explorers, Oates's life history has also been talked about and mentioned.The description of the ongoings in Antarctica, the facts are so vivid, that you feel the sun rays reflected by the snow is burning YOUR cornea.
The dream-like snowy and fairy-land like Antarctica turns into White Darkness, and the big question of survival, instinct taking over affections and love for others, ruthlessness to achieve one's goals and fullfil one's ambitions. It has it all as it takes you through the highs and lows of Antarctica and its voyagers.
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