Just grabbed this at the library because I had picked up London Calling and I thought, well, hey, if I like that a lot, I’ll want to have another of this author’s books on hand in order to read it, too. And then when I went to find London Calling in my bag, I guess it was way at the bottom, so I read this one, which was closer to the surface.
It’s about these two kids, George and Kate – George is Kate’s uncle but he’s younger than she is – and due to their great brilliance, they get put in this fancy expensive private school that’s all about regime and standardized tests (lovely). But it’s sinister! And they come to realize that there’s all demons in the school possessing people and making them act all crazy. And George is very, very clever, and Kate is too but she wants to go to her old school and star in the school play.
This is the kind of book that Louis Sachar could pull off, but most people could not. Including, I’m sad to say, Mr. Bloor. The plot wasn’t awfully gripping, which was partly because the demons weren’t that scary and neither was the sinister administration, and partly because it (the plot) was on the incoherent side. It was a bit like Holes in that it was sort of silly but nevertheless creepy, but it didn’t have that same kind of excellent, well-structured plot that Holes had, and plus, again, Edward Bloor is no Louis Sachar.
(I never knew I felt so fond of Louis Sachar. Object lesson in what an inferior contrast can do for you.)
Here’s what I really didn’t like, though, and here there be spoilers.
All along, the grown-ups are involved in this big cover-up, and the kids (plus the nice grown-ups) are trying to figure out what’s going on, right? Well, at the end, there’s a big scene in the library, this woman gets dusted (I use the word in its Buffy sense to mean turned all to ash) accidentally, by a machine, no one’s fault, but her skeleton’s still around, and the First Lady, who’s visiting, comes in, gets scared, and shoots the skeleton to pieces. All of which the kids and nice grown-ups observe, and then the government people come in and say, “That never happened”, which the admin agrees with. As expected, the kids and nice grown-ups stand up and say “Oh yes it did!” and you know what happens then?
They sell out to the government. The First Lady’s aide says “I’ll give you all something nice if you sign this affidavit saying that none of this – demons, shooting the skeleton, three corpses – ever happened,” and they all do it! I mean, they ask for selfless things, like freeing a captive whale and preserving a library as a Historic Landmark, but I really don’t think that makes them any less sell-out-y and dishonest.
I’ll try London Calling, see if it’s any better, and report back.