MrsK's Seasoned Reader Picks

Friday, December 5, 2014

Beneath by Roland Smith

Title: Beneath, Author: Roland Smith
ISBN: 9780545564861
Publisher's Synopsis:
Pat O'Toole has always idolized his older brother, Coop. He's even helped Coop with some of his crazier plans -- such as risking his life to help his big brother dig a tunnel underneath their neighborhood in the suburbs of Washington, DC. Coop is . . . different. He doesn't talk on the phone, doesn't use email, and doesn't have friends. He's never really cared for anything but the thrill of being underground and Pat. So it's no surprise to anyone -- even Pat -- that after a huge fight with their parents, Coop runs away. Exactly one year later, Pat receives a package containing a digital voice recorder and a cryptic message from his brother. He follows the clues to New York City, and soon discovers that Coop has joined the Community, a self-sufficient society living beneath the streets. Now it's up to Pat to find his brother -- and bring him home.

MrsK's Review:
What really is beneath? This cover draws you in and down... down below the streets of New York City. Seriously, who wouldn't creep over to the light and peer down... down... down!

Before I share with you about Pat, let me share of few "things" about his brother Coop. For some reason, Coop really likes a pair of tap shoes. Now I get this, once those taps start resonating on differing surfaces you can't help but to keep your feet in action. Coop also likes reading, maybe not the same type of books I would choose... but a reader is an explorer. Someone who is willing to look "deeper" beyond the words or whatever society is trying to enforce. Coop is also a writer who has lost the opportunity to communicate in a journal. So, the next best option would be keeping an auditory journal (definitely a real-time... over the edge... survival and in the moment tech-nique). Coop likes digging, dirt, and tuna sandwiches. Nothing unusual... except, well he's going "beneath."

Now for Pat (such an amazingly brave character), his story begins after the explosion... after Coop has run away... and once a package arrives at his school. Coop has "hooked" him into keeping a journal as a way of documenting the truth:

"This is what I'm doing here in this journal...stringing together bits and pieces of information to make a story,
 each bead in the necklace made from different material. Memory beads. Recorded beads. Newspaper beads. Letter beads..."

Once Coop began digging behind their shed, Pat was recruited as a co-conspirator. This was not just a "hole" for discovery, it was well planned... eight months of tunneling "slithering beneath the neighborhood like a giant earthworm." Unfortunately, the tunnel ended up at the Mesa's swimming pool and the "whumpf" of the explosion brought "every local, state, and federal law enforcement agent" to their back yard shed. 

 Three days later, Pat awakens to the reality that his brother had been taken by the Feds. Even when Coop was returned, things were not the same. And then came the day that Coop was gone. No note... no tap shoes... no tent... no sleeping bag... backpack...or  flashlights... all gone... completely gone. Only some stationery and envelopes were left behind. 

Gone where? Where and why would Coop leave? It takes a year of  worry, anger, and change... but on the day the package is delivered at Pat's school , he begins a recorded communication with Coop. Consider it like letters or a voice-journal of every day happenings. Until Coop gets to New York: 
" When I finally got here I knew I was in the right place. What I'm looking for is here. 
I don't know how to explain it, but I can feel's close."

When there is no recordings, no letters... Pat decides to tell both of his parents that something has happened to Coop. The only thing they are concerned about is where Pat will spend Christmas break. Now that they have divorced and have new interests, neither are thrilled that the other one has plans. So Pat decides his own destination... New York City... in search of Coop. He has ten nights to find him.

So what is Coop looking for? Who is this old guy who knows everything about NYC? Who is the girl and why is she wearing shades at night? What does Coop mean that he has earned his "entrance fee?" Who is the guide? Who is that strange man opening Coop's mail box?

With so many unknowns, a plot that takes you "underground," claustrophobic tunnels, and "deeply-rooted" communities... Pat must find a way to help Coop before it's too late. It takes courage to even be in the tunnels, can you imagine being underground with no plan, no map, nothing that gives you a moment of peace or sleep? Could you trust strangers with your next breath? Would you be so driven to find your sibling that only true grit would bring you a few miles closer to the truth?

 "I put the earphones in and fast-forwarded to Coop's references to what lies below..."

Pat's journey is not an adventure, it's a harrowing experience that only leads to more questions, suffocating decisions, constant agony pulsing through your veins... and certain death. This novel will keep you turning the pages and only stopping to gulp in a breath, grab a bite to eat, and return with a ferocity to reach Coop for yourself (yep, that type of reader enmeshment is delightfully delivered). Every character has their own story, each decision is pre-determined to take Pat deeper underground, and every life-threatening chase is smothered by miles of dirt overhead. Or at least it appears that no one is noticing where Pat is...

My only question to the author of a "stand alone" novel would be: Are these characters seriously not beckoning to you to finish their journey?

This is a must reserve read... don't wait... get Roland's newest book for your New Year kick off.  It is beyond expectations. It is a winter's journey not to be forgotten. It will... well, it will make you re-live Pat's moments "beneath" civilization (a true read-it-forward novel).
 "Over the top"
A must add to any Library, classroom shelf, and home collection!
 Meet the Author:

Back Home  I was born and raised in Portland, Oregon. When I was five years old my parents gave me an old manual typewriter that weighed more than I did! It was my favorite possession. I spent hours in my room clacking away on that old typewriter. Of course, when I was five I didn’t know how to spell and I barely knew how to read, but I loved the sound and the look of the letters on the crisp white paper. Things haven’t changed much since then. I still spend several hours a day in my room clacking away and I still love the sound of the keyboard and the look of the letters and words that eventually turn into stories. The only difference is that I can read now and I spell a lot better.

"I received this book for this honest review"

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