Thursday 15 September 2011


Book review: The Line by Teri Hall

My edition: Paperback, published in 2011 by Speak, 224 pages.

Description: When Rachel and her mother move to Mrs. Moore's house-the one with the greenhouse, right next to the Line-Rachel starts questioning things.

There are so many rumors of horrible things that lie beyond the Line-in a place called Away-but no one dares to talk about it. And it's no use asking questions- especially of Mrs. Moore, who has always lived by the Line, or of her mother, who is just happy to have a place to stay, especially since Rachel's father died in the war.

But then Rachel comes across a recorded message-one that could only have come from Away. And the voice on the recorder is asking for help.

As things start to unravel, the question becomes, how far is Rachel willing to go to cross the Line and do the right thing?


Well, I read this in 2 or 3 hours while on trains today, which probably says it all. While a fascinating read it really only felt like an introductory chapter to a story yet to come, which I suppose in a way it is, being the first novel in a series (trilogy?) but I still would've liked to see more action in the first installment.

I really love the background this novel is set in: some decades or centuries into the future the US (which means Unified States in case you got confused there, this is not one of those novels that believes the United States is the centre of the world or anything...) expects an attack on their borders and to prevent this from happening they create a ground defence system separating the US from whatever evils are lurking outside there.

Only problem is that they didn't warn anyone this would happen out of fear that the communication would be intercepted by the enemy (though some high up rich men knew beforehand so they could bring their families to safety, that's democracy for you) and as such the line that was drawn between the US and another part now referred to as Away separated families and friends without a warning and forever.

Even if the people in Away survived the nuclear blast there was no way they could ever cross the invisible border back to the US as it'll just make you bounce back.

Go forward a few generations and we meet Rachel and her mother and through their eyes slowly start to get a sense of the totalitarian state they're currently living in, one that's only getting worse. Rachel has grown up on The Property, a place near the Line and slowly gets drawn to it and all the stories she hears about Away; monsters and strange birds and all these other unexplainable things. But which of these stories are true, and which are fabricated by the government to keep people away from er... Away?

Sounds like a fantastic premise for a book, doesn't it? Unfortunately the few revelations that we do get in this one are quite predictable and when the storyline finally progresses into the unknown and exciting the book is already over. I will be seeking out the next installment but do hope it progresses at a much quicker pace than this one.

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