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(The White Darkness) By McCaughrean, Geraldine (Author) Paperback on (12 , 2008) [Anglais] [Broché]

Geraldine McCaughrean

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Couverture | Copyright | Extrait | Quatrième de couverture
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) 3.7 étoiles sur 5  28 commentaires
18 internautes sur 20 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Action, mystery and the slightest touch of the supernatural 1 juin 2007
Par Teen Reads - Publié sur
Fourteen-year-old Symone is obsessed with Antarctic exploration. Ever since the death of her father, she has read every book and watched every movie she can find about Antarctica. She is particularly enamored with Capt. Lawrence "Titus" Oates, one of the explorers lost in the doomed Scott expedition. Titus is her companion and confidante, an imaginary friend who fills in for her grieving family and distant friends.

Outside of Titus, the only person to take an interest in Sym's life is her Uncle Victor, a family friend who has cared for the family since her father's death. Uncle Victor feeds Sym's interest in Antarctica and arranges for a trip to the frozen continent. There, Sym must face the White Darkness, a phenomena of the polar summer where the sun never truly sets and the only indication of night is white, unmarred by shadow.

Sym identifies with the purity, isolation and silence of the white continent. She sees herself as particularly suited to a place that others see as dead:

"God sketched Antarctica, then erased most of it again, in the hope a better idea would strike Him." Sym observes, "At the center is a blank whiteness where the planet isn't finished. It's the address for mesmerized me. The idea of it took me in thrall. It was so empty, so blank, so clean, so dead. Surely, if I was ever to set foot down there, even I might finally exist. Surely, in this Continent of Nothingness, anything --- anyone --- had to be hugely alive by comparison!"

Sym does not know that she is a pawn in a larger conspiracy, subject to the fanatical beliefs of one man. Uncle Victor is obsessed with his own theories about discovery and becomes unhinged. He is less concerned with their ability to survive than in securing his place in history. Nasty secrets start to emerge as they travel across the ice. Sym must choose between trusting her uncle and listening to the inner voice she has always regarded as imaginary.

THE WHITE DARKINESS is told entirely from Sym's point of view, offering her wry observations of the other travelers and sharing her expertise on the subject of the Arctic. Author Geraldine McCaughrean's biggest challenge is convincing the reader that a smart girl like Sym would be taken in by the suspicious circumstances of her trip with Uncle Victor. McCaughrean succeeds by invoking other polar explorers, many of whom might be regarded as madmen, making discovery at the expense of their own lives.

The juxtaposition of Sym's adventure next to the Scott expedition --- which McCaughrean wisely summarizes in an appendix at the end of the book --- asks if death is too high a price to pay for discovery. The irony of the Scott expedition was that, as they chose to push on to discover the South Pole knowing they were unlikely to return, another explorer, Roald Almundsen, already had beaten them to the Pole by two weeks and lived to tell the tale. Had the Scott expedition survived, they would not have been the first to reach the Pole. They found more notoriety through death than they would have in life.

The Arctic regions are ideal for asking the big questions about ethics and morality because one's decisions, which might be regarded as opinions in ordinary life, hinge on life or death in such a harsh environment. Many 19th century writers were fascinated with the Arctic as a place representing the unexplored regions of the human psyche. In FRANKENSTEIN Mary Shelley sets the final showdown between creator and monster on the polar ice. Henry David Thoreau wrote about the Arctic explorers of his time in WALDEN saying, "...explore your own higher latitudes...there are continents and seas in the moral world, to which every man is an isthmus or inlet, yet unexplored by him, but that it is easier to sail many thousand miles through cold, storm and cannibals...than it is to explore the private sea, the Atlantic and Pacific of one's being alone."

THE WHITE DARKNESS manages to ask some of these big questions without compromising plot or pace. It is a book filled with action, mystery and the slightest touch of the supernatural. Its strange story will be appreciated by readers interested in survival tales and the shadow side of human nature.

--- Reviewed by Sarah A. Wood
7 internautes sur 7 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 An insatiable lust for the Antarctic 7 juillet 2008
Par Jessica Lux - Publié sur
Fourteen year-old Sym is a classic young adult protagonist - the partially deaf social outcast who loses herself in intellectual pursuits and gets the boy in the end. Sym is obsessed with the white darkness of Antarctica, which is the favorite subject of her stand-in father, the wannabe adventurer Uncle Victor. Uncle Victor and Sym share a private world of science and history which makes Sym's outward life more bearable, especially after the death of her father.

As the story opens, Uncle Victor surprises Sym with an elite tourist expedition to the South Pole. Victor reveals that he is on a quest for Symme's Hole, a secret, mythical entrance to an underground civilization at the center of the earth. The reader will quickly realize that Victor harms others in his singleminded pursuit of adventure, but our narrator is painfully blind to Uncle Victor's sociopathic behavior. She passively accompanies him without questioning why he stranded her mother at home, destroyed their cell phone, and drugged their friends on the expedition. As the novel unfolds further, Sym slowly realizes how manipulative and deceitful Uncle Victor has been her entire life, and she is faced with life-or-death survival in the company of a maniac.

THE WHITE DARKNESS is an adventure tale, a romance, and a coming-of-age story. The novel is lyrically beautiful on the subject of the South Pole, but the protagonist's extreme passivity and lack of awareness render parts of the narrative slow and frustrating to read. Still, I was hooked by the suspense, and I enjoyed the voyage through this queer, white world.
27 internautes sur 35 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
2.0 étoiles sur 5 wonderful premise, disappointing execution 8 octobre 2007
Par grrlpup - Publié sur
After looking forward to this book for several months, I finally started it...and abandoned it within a day.

The premise, a teenager trapped in Antarctica and facing intrigue and life-or-death situations, was great. The main character's voice at the beginning was great. How's this for a beginning: "I have been in love with Titus Oates for quite a while now--which is ridiculous, since he's been dead for ninety years. But look at it this way. In ninety years I'll be dead, too, and then the age difference won't matter."

I was all set to love the book and its main character, Sym. However, by the end of the first chapter it becomes clear that there's something wrong with her uncle, who is clearly the antagonist. He's obviously lying, perhaps crazy, certainly not a very nice person. Yet Sym doesn't catch on to this for most of the book. She's fourteen, old enough to notice and form her own opinions. When she goes blithely on her way, ignoring the obvious approaching plot of the book, I can't help losing respect for her character. It's like she's sleepwalking or just going according to the script.

When the reader has caught on to something and has to wait around for the main character to catch on too, and it doesn't happen despite ample evidence, it's hard to keep caring. I found myself flipping ahead to see if the book had turned the corner yet...nope...nope, not yet. I checked the ending to see how it came out (pretty much as expected), then regretfully put the book down.

I am really sorry that I experienced it this way, as the language and writing were often thoughtful and beautiful.
8 internautes sur 10 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
2.0 étoiles sur 5 2008 Printz Award Winner :-( 30 janvier 2008
Par Lunacat141 - Publié sur
I am forcing myself to read this book for my job. I'm nearly half way through and i can hardly make myself go any farther. The book has an intersting premise and the author has talent which is made clear buy her engaging style. The characters are just not likeable. The main character Sym comes off as a nut, and her uncle Victor is just creapy. I understand that the whole social outsider thing, i was one myself in school. But come on, a character who is so delusional and obsessed and cripplingly shy has the main character in this book needs professional help. I was quite supprised when this book won the ALA's Printz Award. There have been many more engaging and entertaining books written in Young Adult literature this year. In my opinion, the three other books that were nominated for this award were much better. Check out the Dreamhunters by Elizabeth Knox, One Whole and Perfect Day by Judith Clarke, or Repossessed by A.M. Jenkins.
2 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Enchanting Review: The White Darkness 14 mai 2009
Par Enchanting Reviews - Publié sur
Young Adult Action & Adventure

Rating: 4 Enchantments

Titus Oakes is a long dead adventurer, having met his maker on a doomed trip to the South Pole. He's funny, witty, charming and lives entirely in Symone's head. Even though he is 125-years-old, he loves Symone and cares for her at times like a big brother and other times like a romantic gentleman.

Our heroine of THE WHITE DARKNESS, Symone, is a shy fourteen-year-old girl. She doesn't like to give speeches and hates to be pestered about her nonexistent love life. In her world, boys are immature and she has no interest in spending any quality time with them. She has Titus; what more could a girl ask for? Why waste time dating younger boys when she has her mature and charming adventurer at her beck and call?

THE WHITE DARKNESS is a story of friendship, adventure, betrayal and survival. Symone is a strong girl, bound and determined follow her Uncle Victor to the ends of the Earth and back. Uncle Victor, an interesting and then suspicious fellow, feeds her sense of adventure as he pulls her down in a mystery so dangerous that they will be lucky to make it out alive. Meanwhile, Titus plays the part of Sym's true friend and confidant, frequently making appearances and helping Sym along the way as they unravel the secrets of The Ice. Two other players, Manfred and Sigurd, show up as father and son, chosen by Uncle Victor to help lead them on this treacherous journey. This new pair brings with them a whole new mystery; one that Symone has to unravel before time runs out.

THE WHITE DARKNESS was a great read. It had a fantastic storyline and was full of sharp twists and turns. The complexity of the characters was just amazing. Geraldine McCaughrean does an amazing job of developing her characters. Symone's mother is really the only character that we didn't get to know very well and she was only present in a handful of pages. McCaughrean lends real-life traits to her characters, making them both legendary and believable. Symone is easy to relate to with her quite nature and yet still has her own quirks that make her unique.

Where I got stuck in THE WHITE DARKNESS was in the flow of the writing. McCaughrean has a habit of creating short sentences or sentence fragments and this slowed me down while reading the story. Don't get me wrong; it was still great, just difficult to read. The discussion between Sym and Oakes as well as Sym and everyone else was differentiated by italicized text, but it was still difficult at times to figure out which parts Sym was imagining and which parts were really occurring. Perhaps this is all part of the story, I'm not sure. Either way, it was a great book, but one that requires quite a bit of concentration and rereading.

Geraldine McCaughrean is an award-winning author with over one hundred and forty books under her belt. She can be found at [...]

May 2009
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