Author: Lauren Oliver | Website
Publication Date:October 2nd, 2012
My Interest: Adventure-junkie
Age Group | Genre: MG | Fantasy, Adventure
Were you the kid who grew up reading The Borrowers, and then constantly blamed them when something of yours went missing?
No? That was just me? Surely more of you thought that. Or perhaps it was the laundry gremlins…..
Either way, I have been so excited to read Lauren Oliver’s The Spindlers because I know there is a world of life under my feet, and one day I will discover it. Until then, I had better keep a hold of my socks lest they end up for sale at the market.
If you’ve ever been afraid of spiders, there’s probably a good reason why. You see, Liza knows that spiders aren’t really spiders, but in fact Spindlers–spider like creatures with tiny hands who just happen to be soul-stealing monsters. So when her younger brother Patrick wakes up one morning with eyes the color of coal, she knows the spindlers have gotten to him and it’s up to her, and only her, to save him.
Heading Below with only stories and her broom, Liza runs into a world she never dreamed of. Talking rats, greedy troglods, nids, and even dangerous creatures. With the help of her new friend, Mirabella, Liza heads off towards the Spindler Queen’s lair in search of her brother’s soul. And it is there where she faces the hardest test of all–escape.
My love of middle grade adventure stories runs deep–and The Spindlers is no exception to that love. There’s just something about discovering other worlds through the wardrobe or down the crawl space that excites me. I think it awakens the hope in me that perhaps, someday, I’ll make my own discovery.
But until then, I’ll read my way there.
I feel like the first place to start with this review is by telling you to read it. Seriously. The Spindlers is such a great book. I’m a fan of Lauren Oliver’s YA work (especially her Delirium series–my sidekick review here) but I haven’t read her middle grade work until now. I am definitely checking out Liesl & Po, asap.
However, this middle grade read was fabulous. Oliver has created a world that is extremely believable. Though Below exists exactly where it says, below our world, the way Oliver takes us there makes me feel as if I were right alongside Liza for the journey, and not once was I questioning how I got where I was, or if the moment in time was real.
For a middle grader, and I’m thinking probably 4th-6th grade on this one, that real possibility makes this book a great read. Oliver eases the reader into Below and introduces new characters and creatures in a way that makes it seem as if they had been there all along.
As for characters, Liza is a wonderful heroine. She is strong, and brave, and most of all–loving. It is her relationship with her brother that drives her to save him from the Spindlers. In a way, she reminded me of me when I was young. Had my little brother’s soul ever been taken by the creatures below, you can bet your butt I would have ventured off into the unknown to save him. And that’s what I love most about this story. Readers can find so much of themselves in the pages because not only does Oliver create a imaginative, exciting world, but she infuses it with emotion–fear, wonder, bravery, friendship, and most of all love.
And to top it all off, Oliver brings in Mirabella, a talking rat, who Liza befriends and through a few tricky situations, teaches us so much about the meaning of friendship, love, and acceptance.
I rated this story a 5 because it is simply a fabulous read. The Spindlers is full of beautiful world building, a grand adventure, and lessons that, despite being rooted deeply in life issues, are wonderfully weaved within the story with just the right balance of being hidden so younger readers will pick up something about life without ever knowing it.
If you like this novel, you might like….
The Borrowers by Mary Norton
The Books of Elsewhere: The Shadows by Jacqueline West
[for ratings system, please check out my Bookshelf]