Above by Leah BobetAbove by Leah Bobet


byLeah Bobet

Hardcover | March 1, 2012

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A gorgeous urban fantasy about dangers outside and in.

Matthew has always lived in Safe, a community hidden far beneath the pipes and tunnels of the city Above. The residents fled to Safe years before to escape the Whitecoats and their cruel experiments, and now Matthew is responsible for both the keeping of Safe's stories and for Ariel-a golden-haired shapeshifter, and the most beautiful girl he's ever seen.

But one horrifying night, an old enemy murders Safe's founder, Atticus, and the community is taken over by an army of shadows. Only Matthew, Ariel, and a handful of friends escape Above. Now they not only have to survive in a sunlit world they barely know, but they must unravel the mystery of the shadows' fury and Atticus's death. It's up to Matthew to find a way to remake Safe-not just for himself and his family, but for Ariel, who's again faced with the life she fled, and who needs him more than ever before.

An urban fantasy and a love story, Above is the breathtaking debut of an extraordinary new voice.

LEAH BOBET's short fiction and poetry have appeared in Realms of Fantasy, Strange Horizons, and The Year's Best Science Fiction and Fantasy for Teens, and been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and the Rhysling Award. She received a 2008 emerging writers' development grant from the Toronto Arts Council. She lives in Toronto, Ontario.
Title:AboveFormat:HardcoverDimensions:368 pages, 8.56 × 5.8 × 1.25 inPublished:March 1, 2012Publisher:SCHOLASTIC INCLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0545296706

ISBN - 13:9780545296700

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Rated 1 out of 5 by from Above by Leah Bobet Oh, I did not like the way this book was written. At all. It's weird but I actually tend to like it when authors write their novels in strange dialects, I think it adds a certain uniqueness and personality to the characters. I felt absolutely zero connection with the narrator. The distance was so great that it took me almost fifty pages to realise that a) the book was written in 1st person, and b) the narrator was male. I mean, if you're a female author and a book has a pretty cover with a girl on the front, then I'm automatically going to assume the main character will be a girl - unless you give me reason to believe otherwise. Actually, this book is narrated by Matthew and I'm struggling to recall ever finding such a bland protagonist. He has a name and he's in love with a girl called Ariel... that's it. That's the extent of his characterisation as I see it. Overly simplistic writing, not enough drama and dull characters. Yet 1 star seems too passionate for a book that left me unmoved, I didn't hate it, I simply didn't care much either way.
Date published: 2017-10-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it! What a stunning novel. It's beautifully written and so sensitive and imaginative. There's excellent diversity in the characters and excellent representation of mental illness. The story feels real and true, even though there are magical elements to it. The true natures of the characters are delicately revealed over time and they break your heart. I love that it takes place in an alternate universe Toronto. Multifaceted, this novel shines with hope and faith. I absolutely loved it.
Date published: 2016-10-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Relentless and gorgeous Above, by Canadian author Leah Bobet, is a truly well-crafted novel, written by an author clearly comfortable with voice, language and imagery. In this dark, modern fairy tale Bobet writes from a very difficult point of view, yet manages to sustain tension that leaves the reader flayed. Her pace and the emotional impact of that pace is relentless. Not an easy read, not a novel you'd wish to pick up for a quick escape into something creamy, dreamy and fluffy, yet Above is very much worthy of your time and attention. Overall the story deals with the story of Matthew, the story-keeper of a Torontonian underground society, and his tragic love of one of his fellow mutants, Ariel. But to summarize Bobet's tale by calling it a love story is to describe the Mona Lisa as a portrait. Just like the dystopian Toronto she creates, the story has layers upon layers. It is primarily a dark fantasy, yes. But it is also an indictment of barbaric psychiatric practices, of society's inability to deal with the homeless, with the estranged, with the strange. It is a social commentary written with adroitness and insight, and all done with an accomplished story-teller's art. My only quibble, and it is a middling one, is the classification under which the publisher chose to list the book: young adult. While I can understand the reasoning behind that decision, I also cannot help but feel it was one chosen as an expedience, rather than a true understanding of Bobet's work and its impact. The tale is so dark, and the writing so at the edge of avant guard, that the novel might gain wider and better recognition under an adult classification. But, as I mentioned, I quibble. Certainly Bobet's novel is one worth your time. Recommended.
Date published: 2013-06-18
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Not as good as I hoped I found Above good, but it wasn't as good as i thought it would be. I expected more...Romance I guess? And I also thought it was a little bit boring. But It was also different because of the way things were pronounced and spoke of. The speed of the book was good but some of the events were a little boring. I liked it but i don't think i'm going to read
Date published: 2013-01-29
Rated 2 out of 5 by from So So I found the story hard to follow and disappointing. It didn't explain how or why they were "freaks" and all I took away from the book was that it was about mental disorders and hiding them...it didn't make sense to me and I had a hard time even finishing the book.
Date published: 2012-09-01
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Interesting Story! In a world where "Sick's the same as Freak Above," only below is Safe. Above is a gorgeous urban fantasy about dangers outside and in. It's so hard to describe the writing in this book, it's very different than anything I have ever read before. It is a little difficult to get used to at first, since it's so different. But once you get through some of the book, you start to gain an understanding of the writing style and it turns into this beautifully written story that I can honestly say I wasn't expecting. I really enjoyed the concept behind Above. It was interesting to learn about the place that the characters called Safe, and see what they had to go through to protect it. The idea behind Corner and the shadows was a little confusing at first, but once you learn Corner's complete tale, you come to an understanding as to what happened and why things are the way they are in this wonderful story. Overall, an outstanding story, one worth reading!
Date published: 2012-07-20
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Above Fell Below My Expectations I was immediately drawn to this book for two reasons: 1 - It's a dystopian novel, one of my favourite genres to read and 2 - It's a Canadian author and the story takes place in Toronto (love that the CN Tower is on the cover). However, I didn't enjoy this story as much as I hoped I would for a couple of reasons. The character Ari, drove me nuts. I absolutely loathed her, how she would fly away anytime something didn't go her way, just like a spoiled brat. Although reasons for her being like this are provided, it's not until almost the end, so I went through the whole book completely disliking her. Also, I was excited about the hype how the characters have their own 'language' that they speak. I thought this would be original, but all it is is them using poor grammar. If you want to read a book that creates a language, read Lord of the Rings or Clockwork Orange - a lot of thought went into those, not just, what I am calling "sloppy-speak". I was also mildly upset that the F-bomb (F**k) appeared so many times, uneccesarily. I mean, this is a book for young adults, right? I enjoyed Matt's character (the hero) thoroughly, besides the fact that he was always going after Ari, and I loved reading the "tales" of all the other characters and what makes them "Freak". I thought the whole idea of the boook had merit, but it just didn't grab me like I had hoped.
Date published: 2012-05-30
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Difficult to get through The story was fine, very realistic and applicable to real life while being utterly out of this world. I just couldn't get past the writing style. I fell for the beautiful cover when I was at the library, which is exactly what the publisher was hoping for. However, the person on the cover is not the narrator, I spent the first chapter confused until I finally understood the main character was a boy named Matthew. Very strange to have a girl on the front cover of a story about a boy, yes, the girl is in the book, yes the cover makes sense, but being that normally boys would be the target audience for a book narrated by a boy, the cover appeals much more the females. Now for the writing style, it was very apparent that the author was trying to make her world talk in a beautiful version of English, it failed. I enjoyed Blood Red Road with Saba's uneducated, lower class way of speaking, as well as novels from earlier centuries that are in a well educated upper class English. Both of which involve getting into a flow of the language, a flow that can be heard in real life in certain area's. This novel speaks a dialect all of their own that made it very difficult to get past. It ruined the novel. I would like to see Above written over in plain English.
Date published: 2012-05-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Engrossing and thought provoking The blurb on the cover of Above tells us that it “pulls off the rare trick of being convincing and utterly magical at the same time” and I can't think of a way to sum up my feelings about this book better than that. Above takes us deep underground. Down to where it is Safe. Where Teller, Ariel and all the other fabulous characters in this book go to get away from the prejudice and cruelty of life Above. The place “above” is Toronto. Whether its a futuristic or paranormal Toronto I'm unsure. Whatever it's supposed to be aside, it feels real. It feels like the Toronto I know and experience every day but from a much, much different perspective. As much as the setting of this novel seemed incredibly real, the beautiful and at times breath-taking prose made it seem absolutely magical and enchanting. The writing takes on an almost lyrical or poetic quality and at times you really have to work to understand what's going on in the story. I appreciated this style however and often found myself reading passages aloud to whomever was around me just because they were so beautiful I just had to share them. I don't know at what point it hit me that this was so much more than a fantasy novel. This is a social commentary and it's one that we should be listening to. The people of Safe are Freaks, they're Beasts, in some cases they're even Sick. They don't “belong” Above. People Above want them to conform to what's normal and when they can't be normal, they lock them up and perform all sorts of atrocities on them. I took this as a commentary on how we treat the homeless and the mentally ill – or just anyone who doesn't fit into our idea of what a good society should look like. This story really moved me and it really made me want to do something! (Check out the links at the end of this post). I wholeheartedly recommend this book. Leah Bobet had produce an amazing piece of fiction that can be enjoyed by anyone – young, old, fantasy lover or not. Above is smart, well written and provides a captivating look at some of our societies most marginalized. This and other reviews at Hooked on Books (http://christashookedonbooks.blogspot.com)
Date published: 2012-04-28
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Review from Esther's Ever After Consider yourself warned: Above is like nothing else out there in YA. Above is a truly original and utterly engrossing read, one that is sure to leave a distinct impression on its readers. And frankly, this isn't a book that every reader will love because it's a very tricky one to read and doesn't make for light reading. However, I think it's one that most readers should at least give a chance because if it's one that you will enjoy, it will have a great impact on you. Reasons to Read: 1.Thoughtful details: Leah Bobet clearly put a lot of thought into this book, and it is so rich in meaningful topics that I'm not even sure I picked up on all of the ideas and questions it raises. The story comes across as being so detailed and curious, with a very particular story to share. I'm not really sure how to explain it, but overall the details all seemed very conscientious that actually blended together very well and added to the story. 2.Prose-like writing: I know some people who reviewed Above mentioned that they struggled with the writing; and yes, it definitely isn't written in the same style that the majority of books are written. But the way Leah writes Above just rolls off the tongue, with gorgeous phrasing and imagery that just flows off the page to meet with your imagination. It's stunning, really. But I can also see how this wouldn't be enjoyable for every reader (it all depends on taste). But it also captures the perspective of the narrator very well, and gives him a distinct voice. 3.An intelligent read: Above is one YA book that really stood out to me as an intelligent book. It's one that makes you question norms and expectations, and re-evaluate things we readily take for granted. And the way it's written can be confusing at times (and yes, a bit convoluted in some phrases) but you really need to adapt your mind to it and be willing to embrace these differences to appreciate Above. And THAT is something I thoroughly enjoyed about it. Above deals with a lot of notions and ideas, most of which fit in quite well with contemporary society. This urban fantasy portrays a remarkable story of a group of people just trying to fit in - somewhere, wherever that may be. And whether that may be with each other or not. And there isn't any easy answer to this, as Leah shows with Above, and each of the characters has a lesson to learn that will truly change their life. But moreso, the story is tragic. I'm not sure if this was intended at all, but it seemed to me that Above did a good job tackling issues of equality among people and accepting the differences and flaws of others. And it took this a step further by highlighting the dangers of rejecting others and the hurt that can stem from that. Yet I can also see how this would not be a book for every reader; it's beautiful, yes, but it requires a bit of patience to get used to the style and flow of the writing and really absorb yourself in the story. But once you do, here's a book that won't easily be forgotten. Review copy received from Scholastic Canada for review.
Date published: 2012-04-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Interesting Writing Style This book took me a little bit of time to get into because of the writing style, it was difficult for me to understand at first. But after reading a few pages I really found myself understanding the style, it was a kind of poetic style which I really loved! It's very unique and interesting for a story to be told in this way. I really liked the setting of Above being in Toronto. I loved reading the story and being able to follow the characters through the city that I know (though I don't know if Leah intended it to be a more paranormal Toronto from what we know). I was surprised to find that the story is actually told from Matthew's point of view rather than Ariel (which is what I thought, shows to never judge a book by it's cover). I actually enjoyed it more from the male perspective, and seeing how much he cared for Ariel instead of seeing the female perspective of the relationship. The romance side was only a small part to the story, there was so much going on, especially with the fact that Matthew must work to keep everyone Safe while trying to solve the mystery of how it came to be unsafe for them. I really enjoyed that Leah uses the present and the past to solve this mystery, with each chapter you learn about the past of each of the characters and in a way this helps Matthew solve the mystery. Leah does a beautiful job conveying this story, I found it to be an amazing take on conforming. The people in Safe are known as Sick, Freaks, or Beasts, they are trying to get by with how they were born. They avoid Above because the people from there are trying to make them 'normal' and fix them of their problems. I felt that this was an amazing commentary on the idea of conforming to everyone else (or in a way fighting against that conformity). This book was very well done, and I am excited to see more from Leah in the future!
Date published: 2012-03-27
Rated 4 out of 5 by from wonderful beautifully written, descriptive and innocent. I loved it.
Date published: 2012-03-25
Rated 4 out of 5 by from 4.5 stars! Once upon a time, there was a story written in a way I never read before. It was different, special, and unique. It was compelling and heart wrenching. It was a story exceptionally well written... and it stole my heart. Leah Bobet's first novel surprised me with a delightful story filled with feelings and powerful emotions. Above is a fable that, I must admit, took me a while to get into due to its unique writing style. However, it is exactly the writing style that once I understood it, made me love this book so much. Above is told from Matthew's point of view. Yet, the narration is not like any other I have ever come across. Matthew is a teller, thus the story is told in storyteller style. While I tried to get to see the world through Matthew's eyes, I always found myself failing to get that connection and understanding between character and reader. It was later, when I finally realized that I was not supposed to get into Matthew's head at all, that my reading experience absolutely changed. I finally understood that I was actually supposed to keep quiet and just listen to what Matthew had to tell me. So I did. Matthew was born in Safe, a place below Above where "monsters" shelter themselves from the people Above. One day, he found a beautiful and delicate bee-girl, Ariel, on the sewers near Safe. He took her with him to his place. He promised her he would never hurt her; He promised her she would always be safe. Then, the shadows came. They killed Atticus, the founder of Safe, and many others who lived there as well. Only Matthew, the sweet Ariel and a few others, made it out of Safe alive. They ran away from Safe, left the shadows behind and went up to Above. I love how moving the story is as well as all the life reflections Bobet put into this tale. Above is a beautiful story that will certainly serve as a lesson and inspiration to many readers. Leah Bobet's first novel went beyond my expectations and now I am eager to know what else she will put on the shelves next. If you haven't read this book yet, then I highly recommend you to pick it up. You will be greatly pleased with Leah Bobet's Above. Above is a story of surviving, mistakes, love and lies. It is a story about the consequences of our actions and how just one little thing can change everything around us. It is a story about Monster-like people who by the inside are even more human than the normal people living above them. Above is a dark yet enchanting story where every word brights with mesmerizing beauty, even in its most heart-wrenching moments. Leah Bobet's debut novel is a powerful and emotional tale that readers will certainly remember for a long time. Very recommended!
Date published: 2012-03-23
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Haunting and Beautiful (ANd Canadian!!) The Good Stuff Absolutely stunning cover Canadian author (yup that be Toronto on the cover folks) The writing is wonderfully poetic, expressive and intense and oh so very visual Has an X-Men feel to it which I really enjoyed Truly unique, unusual and dark Well developed characters who grow and change which give it a realistic feel Truly unique premise/plot - I can honestly say I have never read anything like it This isn't for everyone, but the right reader will LOVE this and I think this could very well be an award winner as the language is just so beautiful and haunting Mentions locations I know -- hee hee Queen and Bathurst The Not So Good Stuff The writing style took me a while to get into as I am easily distracted and a bit of speed reader. These character flaws of mine made it a harder story to get into (Just an FYI for others like me, but don't give up this is good) Matthew is a little too EMO for me (This may turn off male readers, but YA girls will probably totally dig) Favorite Quotes/Passages "What Atticus calls emergency money, in case you have an emergency; he says, but really it's if you use it, it had better have been an emergency." "That's why we work together. Because even if we're strange and Cursed and Beasts, the people Above are monsters." "It's just foolishness to go 'round wanting not to have a Curse, my pa's voice whispers inside, in the dark." "I whisper before I can help it, knowing that deal or not, it's a gift; knowing there's nothing less wise than to question a gift lest it go right back to the giver," Who Should/Shouldn't Read I would say for the more mature YA reader as the language/writing style might be a little difficult for the general reader This is not for those who need a fast paced story, this is to be savored and for you to lose yourself in the language For fans of Urban fantasy definitely High school Librarians/Teachers there is some swearing so you may have complaints from repressed parents who cringe if their precious angels hear a bad word 4 Dewey's I picked up a copy at the 2012 OLA Super-conference and its signed by the author
Date published: 2012-03-01

Read from the Book

From AboveThe wings rustle after her, dry and unbending, catching the light and spreading it soft, white on white on white. In the morning, the house glows like your mama's arms: sourceless light and iridescence.I read that word in a thick old book once. When I went to Jack to ask what it meant, he held his hands out and they glowed so gentle I thought they might kiss the air, and since that day I wanted a place that was iridescent, that lit without burning. Being in love is sort of like that, when it's real. When it's true.It's like that to watch Ariel smile.

Editorial Reviews

Praise for Above"Above pulls off that rare trick of being convincing and utterly magical at the same time." -Emma Donoghue, New York Times bestselling author of Room"Leah Bobet's Above is that rarest of creatures, combining the outspoken honesty of a good first novel with the craft of a seasoned professional." -Elizabeth Bear, Hugo Award-winning author of Dust*"[A] dark, dazzling tale...Bobet effortlessly blends reality and fantasy, her characters are both gifted and broken-hers is a world that is simultaneously fantastic and painfully real. Heartbreaking, romantic, complex, and magical, this fantasy lingers on the senses." -Publishers Weekly, starred review"Bobet fearlessly takes the reader to uncomfortable places, where, as Matthew discovers, there is always more than one side to a story." -Quill & Quire"[A] profoundly moving meditation on how we treat the mentally ill, disabled and homeless...Above is a soulful and spellbinding debut novel." -The National Post"A tremendous adventure, as well as a meditation on how our mythologies shape us...a gorgeous tale." -Toronto Life"[Readers] willing to go along with this captivating exploration of both individual and collective identity will find themselves pondering its implications long after the last page." -Kirkus