Mavi is the teenage daughter of a South American political activist who is eventually rounded up by the police and hauled off to who-knows-where. Knowing that she herself is in danger and urged on by her mother just before the arrest, Mavi escapes from their apartment and goes on the lam. Because she has to keep a low profile and not bring trouble on friends and relatives who try to help her with lodging and essentials, Mavi rapidly finds herself in a big jam.
In desperation, she takes a job as English teacher at a mysterious boarding school for girls located in a big, spooky house at the very tip of southern Argentina. Hardly older than the girls she is expected to teach, she nevertheless gives it her best shot. Unfortunately the girls one-by-one become mysteriously and deathly ill, the whole edifice starts to deteriorate, the staff are nutty, evil spirits swarm out at night to possess people and/or suck the life force out of the sleeping girls, etc. etc. etc. How to handle all this?
Mavi, with the aid of the son of the school’s founder, sets out to save the girls. Actually, though, it is not the school’s founder’s son who is helping her but a dead spirit who has taken over the boy’s body. This is all very distastefully described, as are, frankly, pretty much all of the situations in this book. Eventually we find that all of this is a video game that keeps re-looping. It appears that Mavi and others finally break free of the game’s constraints, however, and become Real People–I would say like the Velveteen Rabbit perhaps, but there is nothing pleasant or nice or lovely about this story. I could go into this in more detail, having taken one for the team and persevered with reading all 456 pages of the book, but I can’t be bothered. That is not the purpose of this website anyway.
It is jarring that the author’s attempt to set up a fantastical world is marred by repeated use of very ugly language, including religious profanity and sexual references. There are references to pedophilia and child abuse. One of the characters kills her little brother by accidentally backing over him with a car, and this is described rather explicitly. One of the underlying myths in the book concerns child sacrifice.
I can see this book being made into an R-rated horror film for teenagers which I guess would make millions. That’s no compliment.
As far as this book being a worthwhile read, I can’t imagine anyone finding it uplifting, enjoyable, or inspiring. I found it truly disgusting.
Categories: Controversial YA Topics, Crime, Dysfunctional Relationships, Fantasy, Mysteries, Offensive Language in YA Literature, Political Activism, Social Disorders, Supernatural/Occult, Violence, Virtual Reality