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review 2014-01-01 05:50
Below by Meg McKinlay

This book surprised me, which is something that rarely happens and it is typically something small. However this book was an all around surprising book for me and I definitely wouldn't have been able to guess how it ended, let alone what happened in the middle. Trust that it has a happy ending. Truthfully I hadn't realized that the town was legitimately submerged underneath water and so was the town's secrets. The plot flowed easily which made it that much easier to slip into the life of the main character as she struggled between who she is and the past that she didn't have a chance to be a part of. 


Cassie, the main character, was born early - that much was made clear. Perhaps, she shouldn't have been born at all or so some people believe. It would be hard to tear your family away from the triumphant moment when the town sunk beneath the water especially when it seems to haunt you since you were born. Despite all of the things that seem to be against her, she is amazingly smart and she has a vast knowledge about the town that she never saw - a town she never got the chance to know. Her lungs, under developed from her early birth, only seems to encourage her desire to see the town even if it is just from the surface of the lake as she swims across. Her intuitive nature and her desire for answers are what drives the whole story and it definitely brings about answers that will shock people. 


I was actually surprised with Liam, simply because he became a character that was so different from what I had conceived he would be. His life is what I would think would be the definition of hard, at least for me. He was born along with his twin brother in the original town, awhile prior to the idea of drowning the town was discussed. However he became deformed when his family got in an accident which killed his twin brother and forever changed his father from the man he once had been. Liam partly blames himself and because of that Cassie was able to form a connection with him. I think he has a crush on her though and in many ways I think they are perfect for each other. He is a great kid that loves his family and looks out for his dad. Not what I expected but something I definitely loved. 


Her parents are polar opposites from each other and yet they both attempt to show Cassie love in their own unique way which sometimes only seems to hinder their relationship with them. It's clear they didn't want another kid and didn't need one, so how can they have some deep bond that most claim to have with their kids? Her mom is a history teacher, who had taken off time to raise a family and once the two older kids had gotten older, returned to work. She practically raised Cassie in the class room. She is overly protective of her and certainly treats her other kids different. Cassie sees that it is unfair. Her dad is the artist of the family and a free spirit. He doesn't see the world like everyone else and he takes a more gentle approach with how to love his youngest child. He allows Cassie to watch him create and shares secrets with her that he would not share with anyone else.


Her siblings always seem to be miles away from her as though they realize they have a younger sibling and yet sometimes refuse to acknowledge the bond that definitely could've formed between them. Her sister is perhaps the toughest one of all to understand. She works for the mayor, a character that has a great deal of charisma and has an addiction to his power, and doesn't question everything - not like Cassie. She is always trying to make the city government look better and I can't decide if that is admirable or annoying. She is the sibling that constantly rains on Cassie's parade and point out that when important things had happened, Cassie wasn't alive. Her brother tries to be supportive of his sister and not make things so awkward for her. He realizes that she is struggling with the age gap so he just doesn't push like her sister does. He manages to bring humor to some of the hardest moments. He helps Cassie find her place in the world, even if it is not with their family.


I really liked this book. So check it out!

Source: pixiedustreviews.blogspot.com/2013/12/below-by-meg-mckinlay.html
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review 2013-07-29 00:00
Below - Meg McKinlay Full review at http://thebookshelfgargoyle.wordpress.com/2013/06/24/atlantis-re-imagined-whats-in-a-name-challenge/

McKinlay has created a refreshing take on the sense of mystery and adventure evoked by the image of a city hidden beneath the water – it’s a great premise and a nice change from the usual middle grade/YA fare around at the moment.
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review 2013-05-19 00:00
Below - Meg McKinlay You know, I didn't know what to expect from this book. Originally published in Australia in 2011, it did draw my attention because it is extremely difficult to get Aussie fic in the US unless you pay top dollar for it or know someone who will ship it to you. It was titled Surface Tension in Australia, and I have to admit to liking that title better than the one Candlewick chose. I do like the current cover a lot better though. The colors draw me in and it does fit the story of the book well.For me, this book was all about tone and I think the author did an amazing job capturing the mystery, the unsettling feeling, and the entire book felt haunting to me. Not scary at all, but very tense and tightly woven. It is not an extremely plot heavy book, but the mystery is compelling and the characters engaging.And the other thing that i must point out is how original and different the topic is. The blurb is what originally made me want to read it because it sounded like nothing I had ever heard of before. Original plots are hard to find these days, and though it's a pretty linear story line, it does get there in some unusual ways. The writing was mentally stimulating and the imagery really captured my focus. Even though the book was set in Australia, at times it is kind of hard to tell. That can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on who you are.Cassie is a wonderful protagonist. She's twelve, curious, and exactly like someone her age should be. She wasn't alive when the town her family grew up in was flooded (born that day actually), and she feels left out because they have all these memories that don't include her. She has two older siblings that were planned pregnancies, but Cassie was an accident. So, under the Lower Grange Reservoir are many of her family's memories. Rather than swim at the public pool and dodge band-aids, Cassie decides to swim at the lake without the knowledge of her family. There she finds something and our mystery truly begins. It takes a little bit for the story to get going but I never found the exposition or build-up boring. I don't read a lot of contemporaries and I really enjoyed this one. Candlewick puts out some great titles year after year, and I do hope you decide to give it a chance. It's short, mesmerizing, and I would not be surprised to see it nominated for some awards this upcoming season. I definitely think it deserves to find an audience. Oh, and swimming in a lake above a drowned town would be creepy as hell. Favorite Quote:"You'd think that when you sink something under five thousand swimming pools' worth of water, it'd be drowned and gone. You'd think it would be done with. But somewhere inside me, I knew--you can't just drown a town and call it over. Eventually, things have a way of floating to the surface."
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review 2012-12-16 00:00
No Bears
No Bears - Meg McKinlay I really enjoyed this book. I love that Ruby wants a story without bears because they are in every story!! Watch out, a special friend is spying in on the story!!
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review 2012-11-29 00:00
No Bears - Meg McKinlay Appeal Characteristics: Random, Fractured Fairy Tales, Weird, Nice visual art

I usually like fluffy girlie-girl stories...but I just couldn't get into this one. Maybe because it was so randomly put together...with the occasional bear strolling through...I didn't understand. I was wondering if I'm lacking a child's sense of humor at how the story is constructed... the art wasn't enough to draw me in. I dunno, I think the authors British...but I didn't think that should matter, lol!
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