Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Book Review Musings: House of Stairs by William Sleator

 Synopsis from Goodreads:

 One by one, five sixteen-year-old orphans are brought to a strange building. It is not a prison, not a hospital; it has no walls, no ceiling, no floor. Nothing but endless flights of stairs leading nowhere -- except back to a strange red machine. The five must learn to love the machine and let it rule their lives. But will they let it kill their souls? This chilling, suspenseful indictment of mind control is a classic of science fiction and will haunt readers long after the last page is turned.

My review:

I read this book for the two Young Adult Dystopia Reading Challenges that I'm participating in for the next few months. Ann Kingman from Books on the Nightstand talked about this book during the podcast where she introduced the challenge and I thought it sounded intriguing. It sounded vaguely familiar but I had not read it when I was younger. 

This was a very quick read and it is written in a very simplistic style. But, the content is incredibly creepy and disturbing. As I read the book, I sometimes felt a bit claustrophobic, imagining a world of stairs all around me. Very creepy.In addition to the creepy factor, I loved how it also intertwined a very clear message without feeling didactic. I remember being a pre-teen/teenager and being amazed at how cruel the other kids could be to each other and how difficult it can be to rise above that with the pressure there is to 'go with the crowd'.

The idea of a house of stairs with a small machine conditioning kids to behave in a certain way is rather creative and an interesting world to be involved in during the read. I enjoyed the psychological aspects of the novel and how the author introduces them to the young adult reader throughout the novel.

I'd definitely recommend this to young adults because it has a very interesting story that is both compelling and educational. I also think this might be a good book to give a reluctant reader as its very simplistic and might draw in those who aren't as compelled to read on their own.

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