Above

( 9 )

Overview

“Reeled out with the chilling calmness of a Hitchcock film, Above haunts as it illuminates. Deftly told, this tale of human resilience in the face of madness is a horror classic for our times” (Lynn Cullen, bestselling author of Mrs. Poe).

Blythe Hallowell is sixteen when she is abducted by a survivalist and locked away in an abandoned missile silo in Eudora, Kansas. At first, she focuses frantically on finding a way out, until the harrowing truth of her new existence settles ...

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Overview

“Reeled out with the chilling calmness of a Hitchcock film, Above haunts as it illuminates. Deftly told, this tale of human resilience in the face of madness is a horror classic for our times” (Lynn Cullen, bestselling author of Mrs. Poe).

Blythe Hallowell is sixteen when she is abducted by a survivalist and locked away in an abandoned missile silo in Eudora, Kansas. At first, she focuses frantically on finding a way out, until the harrowing truth of her new existence settles in—the crushing loneliness, the terrifying madness of a captor who believes he is saving her from the end of the world, and the persistent temptation to give up. But nothing prepares Blythe for the burden of raising a child in confinement. Determined to give the boy everything she has lost, she pushes aside the truth about a world he may never see for a myth that just might give meaning to their lives below ground. Years later, their lives are ambushed by an event at once promising and devastating. As Blythe’s dream of going home hangs in the balance, she faces the ultimate choice—between survival and freedom.

Above is a riveting tale of resilience in which “stunning” (Daily Beast) new literary voice Isla Morley compels us to imagine what we would do if everything we had ever known was taken away. Like the bestselling authors of Room and The Lovely Bones before her, Morley explores the unthinkable with haunting detail and tenderly depicts our boundless capacity for hope.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
11/25/2013
Morley (Come Sunday) scores with an audacious page-turner. Blythe Hollowell is only 16 when she’s kidnapped and taken to live in an abandoned missile silo by Dobbs, a local conspiracy theorist, who has chosen her to help him repopulate the world after end times. If the premise and some of the concepts initially owe too great a debt to Emma Donoghue’s Room, the specifics of life underground and Blythe’s coping mechanisms—in particular, her touching habit of using memories to teach herself, as she gets older in captivity, how to be an adult—quickly set it apart. At first Blythe dreams of escape and resists Dobbs, but as the years pass, she weakens, and when she bears a son, Adam, and Dobbs becomes increasingly unpredictable, she resigns herself to life in captivity. Time passes without losing momentum, and soon Adam turns 15, questioning Dobbs’s authority and demanding to go into the world they call Above. In a series of gripping twists, Morley elevates the complexities of Blythe and Adam’s situation, deepening the themes of survival and dependence. The tension diffuses toward the end, but the majority of the book is a stellar and surprising ride. (Mar.)
The Boston Globe
“A compelling tale of survival, reinvention, and hope. . . . Vivid and poignant.”
Sara Gruen
“Grips your heart from the first page and doesn’t let go. . . . A novel to savor.”
The Book Case Blog Bookpage
“What do you get when you mix the claustrophobia of Room with the psychological suspense of Before I Go to Sleep and a dash of The Road? Perhaps something that approximates Isla Morley’s suspenseful second novel, Above.”
Kirkus Reviews
2013-12-17
South Africa–born Morley makes a wild U-turn from the semiautobiographical Come Sunday (2009) to write a captivity novel that morphs into a post-apocalyptic adventure. Blythe is abducted at age 16 by Dobbs, a creepy survivalist who insists he's saving her from the imminent Armageddon. She spends 18 years below ground in an abandoned missile silo near her Kansas home, bearing a son, Adam, who is 15 when Blythe kills Dobbs with a crochet needle and emerges Above to find that there actually was a disaster: The meltdown of 90 nuclear reactors some 15 years ago killed off most of the global population and left the rest deformed by radiation. In a world where most babies are Defectives, genetically sound Adam is a hot commodity; with the help of a sympathetic employee, he and Blythe escape the sinister facility planning to harvest his sperm and travel across the devastated landscape in search of her family. This powerful material suffers from the imperfect integration of its component parts. More than half the novel chronicles Blythe's years in the silo--it's Room told from the mother's point of view but without Emma Donoghue's stylistic and thematic mastery. Moving episodically through 18 years, the narrative throws out shards of insight into the evolution of Blythe's relationship with Dobbs and her strategies to protect Adam, but they never cohere into a full picture. Blythe's and Adam's initial post-silo wanderings nicely render her growing awareness that something is very wrong Above, but they occupy too many pages given the limited amount of space Morley has left herself to explore the new reality they must cope with. The excellent scenes following their escape, which show a shattered humanity trying to rebuild in small communities of damaged people, require more development to make the denouement in Blythe's ruined hometown truly meaningful, though it's quite moving nonetheless. A whole host of interesting ideas stuffed into a lopsided structure that doesn't support the author's high ambitions. Still, very intriguing and provocative.
NY Journal of Books
“Morley’s writing is magnetic, instantly attaching the reader to the story. We see, we feel, and we cringe at the victim’s circumstances.”
Bustle
“Both terrifying and shocking, and practically guaranteed to put a sense of dread in your stomach. .. . Too real for comfort. . . . Morley keeps us guessing the whole time,turning page after page as we wonder right alongside Blythe if she is ever getting back to the world she knew. . . . Gripping, chilling.”
Bookpage
“What do you get when you mix the claustrophobia of Room with the psychological suspense of Before I Go to Sleep and a dash of The Road? Perhaps something that approximates Isla Morley’s suspenseful second novel.”
Cosmopolitan
Combine the terror of Emma Donoghue's Room with the drama of The Hunger Games and you'll get a rough idea of how gripping Above is. Can someone make a film adaptation please?
Cosmopolitan UK
Combine the terror of Emma Donoghue's Room with the drama of The Hunger Games and you'll get a rough idea of how gripping Above is. Can someone make a film adaptation please?
Booklist
“Morley crafts a menacingly sinister tale of imprisonment and eerily inventive story of survival that will appeal to fans of riveting psychological suspense and cut throat dystopian fiction.”
Lynn Cullen
"Reeled out with the chilling calmness of a Hitchcock film, Above haunts as it illuminates. Deftly told, this tale of human resilience in the face of madness is a horror classic for our times."
Fiction Addiction
"A riveting, heartstopping tale of determination, love and hope for the future."
Michael Farris Smith
"The isolation and darkness wrap you like wild vines and force you to face the nightmare, but Above plunges you forward and drives toward hope, because sometimes that's all that remains. This is a novel that challenges you to believe."
Library Journal
02/15/2014
Blythe Hallowell is 16 when she's abducted by school librarian Dobbs Hordin, a survivalist who believes the apocalypse is imminent. Dobbs hides Blythe in an abandoned missile silo where they will ride out the end of the world, emerge, and restart the human race. As the years pass, Blythe must learn to cope with the crushing loneliness that comes as Dobbs leaves to gather supplies and she is left alone for days and weeks at a time. After her son, Adam, is born, she seems to give up on escaping and focuses on teaching her son about a world he's only seen in books. After 17 years of captivity, Blythe and Adam reenter a world that has changed more than either of them could ever have imagined. VERDICT Morley (Come Sunday) tells a compelling story that builds suspense. While the truth of Dobbs's predictions may not surprise all readers, Morley's vision of a postapocalyptic Kansas is haunting enough to make for a true page-turner. Half abduction story (like Emma Donoghue's Room), half dystopian fiction, this novel will appeal to fans of both. [Library marketing.]—Portia Kapraun, Monticello-Union Twp. P.L., IN
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781476731520
  • Publisher: Gallery Books
  • Publication date: 3/4/2014
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 389,110
  • Product dimensions: 9.10 (w) x 6.30 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Isla Morley grew up in South Africa during apartheid, the child of a British father and fourth-generation South African mother. She now lives in Los Angeles with her husband (a minister) and daughter and an assortment of animals. Her debut novel, Come Sunday, was awarded the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize for Fiction in 2009 and was a finalist for the Commonwealth Prize. It has been translated into seven languages.

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Read an Excerpt

Above


  • DOBBS WINS THE fight easily. He shuts and locks the door. I feel a small sense of relief. With a hulking slab of metal separating us, I am finally able to breathe just a little. It is only when I hear another thump, another door closing someplace above me, that I understand: not only am I to be left alone; I am to be hidden.

I am a secret no one is able to tell.

Just like that, instead of wishing Dobbs gone, I am waiting for him to come back.

Surely, it won’t take long.

When Dobbs returns, I’ll take him off guard. I’ll push past him, dash outside, and sprint across the field. I will steer clear of the road. I’ll head for the line of sycamore trees along the creek. I’ll make my way east, and he won’t think to follow me there on account of its being trappers’ territory. Even if I do get snared, it’ll be better than this, because someone will find me. Nobody’s going to find me here, whatever here is. A dungeon? I can’t make any sense of it. A big round room with a massive pillar right through the middle of it. Contraptions, wires, pipes, spigots, dials. I keep my back turned to the space, keep my face pressed up against the door. It is made of steel and has a handle, although not like one I’ve ever seen. Something a bank might have on its vault.

What has he done? What’s happened to me?

Surely, Dobbs should be getting back by now. He’ll take me out of here. He’ll explain it to me, not like before, which didn’t make any sense. He won’t be rough, either. Or cross. He’ll be nice, like how he is in the library.

I look at Grandpa’s pocket watch; only fifteen minutes have passed. Even though it is still ticking, I wind it tight. If only I were still at the Horse Thieves Picnic, our town’s annual tradition that I look forward to all year. The gathering that attracts a couple thousand people has since moved from its original location among the walnut trees of Durr’s Grove to Main Street, and its contests no longer include Largest Mustache for Boys Under 17 or Baby with the Worst Case of Colic, but there is still a parade and a carnival. Apart from the parade, the next most popular event is the concert at the bandstand, where Daddy, no doubt, is now line dancing. It takes no effort to imagine what my sister and brothers are doing. Suzie, with Lula Campbell, will be strutting around the midway looking for boys, and Gerhard, not actually bleeding to death from wrecking his pickup on I-70 like Dobbs had first said, will be off with his pals to scale the water tower. Having left the Horse Thieves Picnic early on account of Theo’s fever, Mama’s likely fallen asleep on her bed, the fan moving what the lazy July evening can’t be bothered to blow through the window. No one has probably even noticed that I’m gone. How long will it take them before they do? And when they do, where will they imagine I am? What will they think the cause for my absence is? They won’t be imagining anything bad, that’s for sure. Bad things don’t happen in Eudora, Kansas.

I look over my shoulder at the space behind me. The enormous concrete pillar and two partitions divide the round room into halves. Behind the partitions is where Dobbs said I could get myself something to drink. I can see a bit of the recliner, where I was told to sit and wait.

I don’t like the looks of anything behind me, so I keep my eyes on Grandpa’s watch. The minute hand and I go for long walks around the numbers. And then the numbers, the watch face, and everything else disappear, just like the time lightning split the maple tree outside our living room and we all vanished in its blinding flash. It’s like that, except in reverse. The darkness has swallowed me whole.

I can’t see my hand, even when I hold it up to my face. Nothing seeps through the darkness. I keep waiting for my eyes to adjust. The outline of the partitions or the big concrete pillar should be visible. I start shivering.

I think I hear something. “Dobbs?”

The darkness snatches my voice and issues nothing in return.

“Hello?”

Don’t panic. The electricity’s gone out; give it a minute.

If this were home, Mama would be feeling her way to the pantry for the lantern and the matches she keeps on the top shelf. Gerhard would have the flashlight under his chin, his bottom teeth thrust outward and his eyes crossed and buggy, and Suzie would be getting all hysterical, as if he really were the bogeyman. And Daddy would be chiding Gerhard, but only halfheartedly, because there’s nothing better than spooking girls.

But this is not home. This is not any kind of place you’d put a person. What kind of things do people put in a place like this? How far underground am I? There were a lot of stairs and a long passage that kept making sharp left and right turns. And too many doors to keep track of. Locks.

Just think of home. Just give it a minute. Just wait.

There is no way to tell what time is doing. Has it been five minutes or half an hour? Shouldn’t the electricity have kicked back on by now?

There is a creak somewhere behind me, to the left. A shifting. My ears strain. I hold my breath so I can hear better. Is there something in here with me? Something doing the breathing for me? In. Out. Sounds like air through clenched teeth. Something with its lips drawn back. Oh Lord, what if it comes for me?

I mustn’t move. Not a sound, or I will give myself away.

How could anything have entered? Is there a hole in the wall? Maybe the noise is nothing but a draft coming through a vent. But maybe it isn’t. Maybe some inner door opened. Because this no longer feels like a confined space but a very large one, widening still.

There is something behind this door, too. Something that turns it freezing cold. I scoot back, exposed. On my hands and knees, I shuffle over to where the kitchen is supposed to be. I must hide. Hurrying as fast as I can, I ram straight into something. My head about cracks. I can’t make any sense of what I’ve hit—something with knobs. I keep hurrying, this time with one hand outstretched.

My hand locates the leg of the table. I get under it, bring my knees up to my chin, and grip myself tightly. Maybe whatever is making the sound is one of those things that can see in the dark. Which means it can see me under the table with the chair legs pressed against me. It doesn’t help to tell myself my imagination is playing tricks on me. Please. Oh, please.

Sit still. Don’t move. Quiet. Ssh. Help me, someone, please, God.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 9 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 9 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 5, 2014

    I was given a copy of this book from the publishers via NetGalle

    I was given a copy of this book from the publishers via NetGalley, in return for an honest review.




    I have to pause and compose my thoughts before writing my review of "Above". My feelings while reading it spanned an entire spectrum of emotions. I was drawn in to the story immediately. The entire book is told in the first person, through Blythe's eyes. As one would imagine, it seems absolutely horrible, being kidnapped from a small town as a teenager. And things only go down hill from there. 




    During the section entitled 'Below', where Blythe is kept in an abandoned Silo, we are shown a smart and scared little girl. She tries everything that she can think of to escape. Over the years her strategy changes and she is continuously faced with new challenges, but she doesn't give up hope that she will eventually find a way out. And neither does the reader. I was surprised to find that Blythe never got on my nerves as some characters tend to do in these situations. However, there were points at the middle and end of this section, that I wanted to put the book down and just not continue it. But I kept going because it is very hard for me to not finish a book, and also, I had promised to give a review.




    I kept reading, and when we finally reached the end of 'below' I was glad that I had! 




    However, it wasn't very far into the 'Above' section when I realized that this was not the type of book that I had signed up for. I was interested in reading about the kidnapping, not what happened after. But I trudged along, even more horrified by what I was reading about 'Above' than what had happened 'Below'. My feelings for this book just kept withering away. It seemed beyond redemption.




    As I said at the beginning of this review, my feelings were all over the place. By the end, somehow, this book had wormed its way back into my good graces. I'm not sure when or how this exactly happened, but by the time it was done, I am happy to report that I actually liked it. The last 2 chapters really pulled it all together. I can't make myself give it 4 stars because of all the heartache it gave me, but 3 doesn't seem to do it justice. 3.5 would be perfect, and I recommend it to those who are on the fence about reading it.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 4, 2014

    this is a scary reality the story shows the desperately consign

    this is a scary reality the story shows the desperately consign struggle between one child and her deluded captor. He believes he is saving her from the apocalypse. She is kept in the abandoned missal site near her home town. Forced to look at his deluded writing, and kept hairless, and starving, she hardly has the ability to resist his attention, or imprisonment. Although it seems that he does not understand that he is who is imprisoning her, she tries desperately to reason with his deluded mind and fight her inner monsters. Does her family miss her, are they looking for her, how can she escape, and save someone else from his twisted ideology. 

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 19, 2014

    I think it¿s safe to say at this point in my life I was not the

    I think it’s safe to say at this point in my life I was not the intended audience for this book. I wanted to show up for the party, and I had every intention of dancing with a pretty lass until the world ended, and I met my maker on the back of a pickup truck. But, alas, it twas not to be. The door was slammed in my face, and I was unable to march through the threshold. Or maybe I was at the bottom of a pit while the laughing hyena on top smiled and grinned at me.

    Blythe Hallowell didn’t really work for me as a character, and as the leader of this charade, I felt more than a little cheated and dismayed. Sure, she’s lived a sheltered life, kept against her will, and has a son named Adam who is her pride and joy. But she seemed to travel back in time in both spirit and vocabulary, instead of dealing with the present apocalypse at hand. The plot seemed more than a little out of place within the ABOVE pages, and my mind raced a little too hard to fill in a few of the story gaps. Or maybe that was just my memory lapse.

    Dobbs didn’t really have a decent bone in his body, and I like to see a bit more from my villains. He was more one-dimensional enemy than a man who got lost somewhere within the confines of this life or the next. And he had plenty of time to build up a little rapport with the heroine of this tale, but he failed on multiple levels.

    The big escape left me grasping for more, even if my wishes were going to remain unfulfilled. And a life such as this could have used a little more bliss, even if the world was ready to end. And the big reveal at the end of this tale left me shaking my head, as I turned in for bed. I slipped away hoping to come back again someday, only to have my world filled with a shimmering array of darkness.

    Maybe, though, I just need to blame myself for not getting it and call it a day, because while I like to think I have a grand master plan if the world were to come to an end tomorrow. I don’t. I’d probably just pack up my ship and sail out to sea and hope that a monster with a few extra tentacles somehow doesn’t find me.

    I received this book for free through NetGalley.

    Robert Downs
    Author of Falling Immortality: Casey Holden, Private Investigator

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 23, 2014

    Impossible to put down (even tho I wanted to)

    I read the first 42 pages of this book which was the sample and went on to something else but I couldn't get it off my mind and finally resigned myself to reading it. I finished it in three days, compelled thoughout to keep reading. As post-apocalyptic novels go, this is as hair-raising as it gets. But the last couple of chapters were, to me, lyrically redemptive. Nothing that came before made me cry (altho it could give me nightmares ) but the love,, hope, and redemption of the ending brought me to tears.

    This is a writer with the power to describe worlds within and an almost unimaginable world without in such a way as to leave you changed.

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  • Posted May 15, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    When Blythe Hallowell is kidnapped she thinks, at first, all her

    When Blythe Hallowell is kidnapped she thinks, at first, all her kidnapper wants is to hurt her. When Dobbs tells her she was taken to be kept safe from the coming apocalypse, she’s scornful. She just wants to go home to her parents, siblings, and the boy she loves. As the months and years go by, she’s slowly given up hope of ever leaving the missile silo in which she’s held. After seventeen years Below, Blythe and her 15 year old son, Adam, finally have a way out. When they go Above, it is nothing like Blythe remembers and it appears Dobbs was right about the end of the world. Now Blythe and Adam face new dangers on their road to Blythe’s old hometown. Can their time Below save them from the horrors of Above?




    ABOVE is a heartbreaking post-apocalyptic novel. When Blythe is trapped below, the author has a way of making it appear as if time is standing still for her and effortlessly shows the effects of the mental and physical torture she endures. The first half of the book, set Below, is a tribute to human endurance and the knife’s edge of madness one in Blythe’s situation will teeter upon. The second half of the book, set Above, was a little more odd as Blythe and Adam had to navigate a wholly unknown and terrifying world. It was definitely interesting experiencing their “firsts” along with them. The second half of the book was a little more difficult to wrap my head around, but all together ABOVE is an enticing and haunting story.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 20, 2014

    Above is intriguing, suspensful, gripping and you will not want

    Above is intriguing, suspensful, gripping and you will not want to put it down. It is very well written with many twists and turns. Enjoy

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  • Posted March 5, 2014

    The beginning of Blythe's story is one of sadness and survival.

    The beginning of Blythe's story is one of sadness and survival. This part of the book chronicles Blythe's life as a captive
    of Dobbs Hordin, the length of her captivity and the things that she endured inside an abandoned missile silo is heartwrenching
    to read. Blythe must get above but will she be able to learn survive up there as she learnt to survive in the silo. 
    The second half of the book chronicles Blythe's life above the silo and this is where the book turns into dystopian fiction. What
    Blythe didn't know is that not only was she dragging herself into a collapsed world but she was also taking her son into a world that
    would like to harvest his perfection from him. Luckily along the way the find people willing to help them and finally there is hope.
    Some parts of this story, particularly those in art one, are hard to read due to the subject matter and then there are other parts that
    seem monotonous. 

    My favorite character was Arlo because he never gave up on trying to find Blythe. Of course most hated character was Dobbs
    and in my opinion he died in a more peaceful way than he should have. I don't know about anyone else but when a character is evil
    defined it is always nice to see justice done to them in a particularly heinous way but Dobb's death was not like this but there was a
    small consolation that at least if anyone did it it got to be Blythe that did him in even if he was right about the end of the world and all. 

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  • Posted March 4, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Dobbs is an extreme Prepper. You know the individuals, the one


    Dobbs is an extreme Prepper. You know the individuals, the ones who prepare for worse case scenarios; storing up weapons, water and supplies believing that when these events strike they will survive, well Dobbs was excessive. The missile silo was perfect to contain his valued possessions and after many years, it was finally ready. He’d thought of everything and I do mean everything, he puts the people on the TV series to shame. Dobbs was prepared to start his own colony with all of the assets that were inside his bunker; he just needed one more thing. Blythe. Dobbs had been keeping an eye on sixteen-year old Blythe and he knew she was just perfect to complete what he set out to do. She never made it home that night, but found herself in Dobb’s vehicle wishing she had never accepted the ride. Blythe did not want to be part of Dobb’s Remnant as he told her of his plans. She is one feisty girl from day one. The days turn into months, which turn into years as Blythe goes through the motions of living inside a silo cutoff from civilization. Think dark, depressing and lonely and that describes Blythe’s days. When her son Adam is born, Adam asks lots of questions about the world outside the silo, adding tension and frustration to the household. Blythe feels torn between Adam and Dobbs, fear and the love of her child are tearing her up. Dobbs has warned the two about the despair that lies outside the silo walls but the duo is desperate to break free from the confines of their walls. As Adam and Blythe finally open the door and breathe in the fresh air from outside, is the freedom that they have been craving awaiting them or did Dobbs speak the truth?

    I loved this book! I was so excited to read this that I could not wait to get my hands on it. Dobbs was the extreme Prepper, he thought of everything and the author did a great job with details explaining Dobbs, his actions and behavior – such a hard, detailed, centered individual. Blythe, a character that I loved at times and others I wanted to yell at her (which makes her a great character to me). She comes from a small town (my impression) so her actions reflect that but she’s so determined and so feisty in her actions. She also has heart, she knows right from wrong and even in the worst case, she tries to stand by her morals. Adam, was a fun kid and as he grows up he becomes a typical teen being rebellious and asking questions. The book covered a lot of years but the author did a terrific job incorporating a lot of different aspects into the book and with her choice of words, this time flow was terrific. There are so many details in the book that I enjoyed but I don’t want to spoil the book for others. I will say that I laughed about Adam’s tattoos and will never forget Sunflower.

    “Its sunlight, son. I can’t turn it off.”

    I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest opinion. Thanks NetGalley!!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 17, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

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