Going Under -- Kathe Koja

Going underI really like the cover -- you can't tell from the picture here, but the pomegranate is shinier than the rest. It's so nice when you can tell that the designer actually read the book. (Or at least knew more about it than the title.)

This is the story of Ivan and Hilly, brother and sister. Or as he puts it, "pilot and copilot":

See, they mean well, Marshall and Ada, Daddy and Mummy. They're not stupid, they read all the books, they try to do their best. But they get scared easily, they hear refractive trauma and teenage suicide and they start manning the lifeboats, they think that because Hilly's pal at High Tide or Riptide or Currents or whatever that stupid literary magazine calls itself--just because Elisha jumped off the gym roof, Hilly's going to do it, too. Just because Hilly cries, and won't sleep in her room anymore. So what? I told them. Hilly's smart, she'll figure things out on her own, and anyway I can help her. Besides, isn't it really their fault in the first place for letting her go to the high school? I mean why does Marshall work overtime at the sports clinic so Ada can be Mrs. Homeschool, if they end up caving in and letting Hilly hang out with monosyllabic cheerleaders at Dumbass High?

The book is so short that I don't want to go into a description of the plot. So I'll just go for reaction:

Hilly...  I was never really all that worried about Hilly -- that was the one thing I think Ivan was really right about -- she mostly just needed time to work her stuff out. Ivan, on the other hand...

It's been a while since I've hated a character as much as I hated Ivan. He made me so angry that I WANTED to PUNCH him in the FACE. Even during the chapters he narrated. ESPECIALLY during the chapters he narrated. 

He was arrogant and hugely selfish and self-absorbed and bossy and condescending and pretentious and controlling and a snob. And he was pathetic. He tried so hard to act cultured and smooth -- some people, like the girls in Dr. Roland's waiting room, didn't see through him. Anyone who bothered to look through past the surface, though... 

But, I think, by the end, he was Starting to Get It. Starting to. He wasn't there, not by a long shot, but there was hope.

Going Under is a GREAT multiple voice narrative and an outstanding psychological thriller. A good pick for fans of Gail Giles and Alex Flinn. 

I'll be reading Kathe Koja's other books soon. (Oh, wait. I've already read Buddha Boy. But I'll read it again.)