The Dark Ground (Dark Ground Trilogy 1) Paperback – 7 Apr 2005
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Sinister but 100% compulsive (Mizz magazine )
. . . terrific . . . (Telegraph )
. . . a wonderfully plotted thriller . . . (Observer )
The paperback of the first book in the amazing trilogy from a multi-award-winning authorSee all Product description
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
What readers will encounter here is a mix between a fantasy and a survivor story. Robert is a teen traveling with his family by plane when something happens to him that he can't comprehend or quite remember-and he finds himself cold and naked in a dark and forbidding forest. What happened and how aren't quite as important as staying alive-and it's only when he discovers other people living in this strange forest that he begins to consider how to get back home. But getting back home won't be so easy-because Robert's home is both closer than he dreamed and farther away than he could have imagined. It's going to take all his strength and bravery, along with the help of his newfound friends to undertake the expedition. The fantasy element of the book is not inherently magical. Beyond the situation Robert finds himself in, there is no magic or magical way out of his predicament. The characters are left to figure their own way out.
Ms. Cross writes a riveting book, full of action, emotion and imagery that roars into the mind and sweeps the reader up into the experiences of the characters. But Ms. Cross does not write an easy book-this is not a tale of whimsy and Harry Potter-esque characters. Every individual is realistic, complex, sometimes unlikable and ultimately human. The world Robert faces is unforgiving and yet remarkable-and death comes all too easily. Ms. Cross doesn't give readers easy answers or a pat ending, nor does she tease readers by making them wait for the second volume in the trilogy to have some kind of closure to this first adventure. This book is best for children who are ready to deal with some of the tougher issues of adventure, and can handle endings that are thought provoking if not a hundred percent "happy". While still a young teen title, I do think both young adults and adults can enjoy this story as well. Ms. Cross never talks down to her audience, but offers universal perspectives and emotions that almost any individual can relate to.
Those who have read and enjoyed this book and want more survivor style fiction should check out Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell and Hatchet by Gary Paulsen. Likewise, those who are fans of Science Fiction may want to look for titles such as The City of Ember by Jeanne Duprau or Obernewtyn by Isobelle Carmody. The Dark Ground is only the first in this trilogy, I can only hope the other two books can live up to the promise of this first one.
Happy Reading! Shanshad ^_^
It's just your typical airplane ride. One minute Robert's in the bathroom of a plane, looking in the mirror, and seeing a tiny man in the black part of his iris. The next, he's naked and alone in a huge forest with no sense of where he is and no one he knows near him. Using his wits Robert must fend for himself, finding food, makeshift clothing, and a shelter of some sort. As he grows better acquainted with his surroundings, the boy realizes that there are other people living near him and he must do everything he can to get their attention and find out what exactly has happened to him.
In many ways this book is just a slightly more fantastical version of Gary Paulsen's, "Hatchet". The sense of survival against a cruel world (not to mention the gigantic hungry creatures within it) and sense of one man against the universe is prevalent throughout the text. What really pulls the story together though is Cross's ability to convey the horrific and the impossible in a believable way. Robert realizes what's happened to him only after confronting the facts and realizing that, however impossible they may seem, they must be true. You see, Robert has been shrunken. He's tiny. So are the other people he meets. So when he sets off for his old home to recover his old life, the trek is long and arduous. The book's like "The Borrowers" but much darker. What's really amazing about Cross's writing is that she manages to make an essentially silly idea (boy-gets-shrunk) into something frightening and disturbing.
Of course there are some problems. For one thing, Cross is a great writer but she is simply awful at humor. There's really not a single funny line or lighthearted jab anywhere to be found in this tome. Robert's in a serious situation and it remains serious continually. This can be a bit wearying after 200 pages or so. There's also a lot of howling, pain, and people confronting big ideas and not being able to reconcile themselves to them. These characters are constantly shying away from painful thoughts. It gets more than a little repetitive over time. Also, though the other people don't save Robert right off the bat because they want him to prove himself, he never blames them for it. Never even mentions it to them (though he's almost killed several times as a result). Seems odd. Finally, none of the characters ever wear shoes... or seem to want to. Huh?
In any case, this is still a wonderful story that's written well but could have stood a little comic relief and less howls of agony. Definitely a title for older readers who aren't afraid of a little vomit, bloodshed, death, and despair. The feel good book of the year it's not. But it's a well told story and an entrancing one.
I'm not even going to follow my normal review format with this one. The Dark Ground is intense, horrifying, and sickening. It will scare you, no doubt. There's not an overly large amount of blood and gore, but the psychological damage is greater than any bodily damage. Except death, which shows up a lot.
I forced myself to finish this book, even though I almost didn't want to. It would have driven me crazy not to know what happened to the characters...but it was almost worse finding out what did happen.
All in all, excellent. It lost a star because it terrified me. But if you like a scare, enjoy...