Texting the Underworld

Texting the Underworld

4.7 4
by Ellen Booraem
     
 

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Perpetual scaredy-cat Conor O'Neill has the fright of his life when a banshee girl named Ashling shows up in his bedroom. Ashling is--as all banshees are--a harbinger of death, but she's new at this banshee business, and first she insists on going to middle school. As Conor attempts to hide her identity from his teachers, he realizes he's going to have to pay a visit… See more details below

Overview

Perpetual scaredy-cat Conor O'Neill has the fright of his life when a banshee girl named Ashling shows up in his bedroom. Ashling is--as all banshees are--a harbinger of death, but she's new at this banshee business, and first she insists on going to middle school. As Conor attempts to hide her identity from his teachers, he realizes he's going to have to pay a visit to the underworld if he wants to keep his family safe.

"Got your cell?"
"Yeah . . . . Don't see what good it'll do me."
"I'll text you if anything happens that you should know."
"Text me? Javier, we'll be in the afterlife."
"You never know. Maybe they get a signal."


Discover why Kirkus has called Booraem's work "utterly original American fantasy . . . frequently hysterical." This totally fresh take on the afterlife combines the kid next door appeal of Percy Jackson with the snark of Artemis Fowl and the heart of a true middle grade classic.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
As Booraem did in Small Persons with Wings, she uses mythological creatures (in this case, banshees) to tell a story that packs an emotional wallop. Conor O’Neill is a smart but timid seventh-grader, afraid of spiders, sneaking out, and leaving his Southie neighborhood to go to Boston Latin School. When a banshee straight out of his Irish-born grandfather’s stories appears in Conor’s room, he’s terrified that someone he loves is going to die soon. The banshee, Ashling, is new at her job, and she doesn’t know who will die or when. Since her mortal life ended hundreds of years ago with an ax to the head, she’s curious about the present day, and she masquerades as a new student at Conor’s school (armed mainly with knowledge obtained from outdated Trivial Pursuit cards). Eventually Conor, his sister, and his friend Javier realize they’ll have to confront the possibility of death head-on. In an affecting, funny, and provocative story, Booraem balances the seriousness of a novel about death spirits and finding courage with Ashling’s comical interactions with the modern world. Ages 10–up. Agent: Kate Schafer Testerman, kt literary. (Aug.)
Horn Book

"Complex characters, a moving story line centered on family and courage, and plenty of exciting moments make this an appealing read for those fans of tales mixing traditional folklore with contemporary life."
Booklist

"Booraem manages to pack a lot of energy into this very modern story about ancient traditions surrounding death. . .Readers will relish the quirky cast of supporting characters from the underworld. . ."
Library Media Connection

"This book will be a favorite of young fantasy readers."
From the Publisher
"Readers will emerge from this adventure a little bit better equipped for heroism." — Kirkus Reviews, starred review

"Complex characters, a moving story line centered on family and courage, and plenty of exciting moments make this an appealing read for those fans of tales mixing traditional folklore with contemporary life." — Horn Book

"A story that packs an emotional wallop...affecting, funny, and provocative." — Publishers Weekly

"Booraem manages to pack a lot of energy into this very modern story about ancient traditions surrounding death. . .Readers will relish the quirky cast of supporting characters from the underworld. . ." — Booklist

"This book will be a favorite of young fantasy readers." — Library Media Connection

VOYA - Hilary Crew
His father maintains that the dreadful wailing noise they hear is a screech owl or a car alarm, but twelve-year-old Conor O'Neill's grandfather, versed in Irish folklore, knows better: it is a banshee. When Ashling materializes and tells Conor that she has been sent to keen the death of one of his family, an already nervous Conor begins wearing his helmet to school. The Celtic belief in reincarnation is central to story. Dressed in the tunic and cloak that she wore in a previous life in the fifth century, Ashling, charismatic and irresistible, is fascinated with technology and facts from Conor's Trivial Pursuit cards and wishes to be reborn. Conor begins to have vivid memories of his life as Declan, in which he was indirectly responsible for Ashling's death; and Conor's eccentric grandfather persuades Ashling to take him to the Underworld to challenge the three "Birds" who control life and death so that he will be the one fated to die. Vivid descriptions of a re-imagined technological Underworld include the Celtic goddess Cailleach registering the dead on a computer. Fascinating characters include the duplicitous "Lady" of the Underworld and her charming chief advisor, the part-lion Nergal. Booraem approaches a family story about moral dilemmas with a light touch. Humorous and not so tightly written, episodes such as Ashling's attendance at Conor's school and the abduction of Conor's grandfather from the hospital contrast with Conor's testing of the Birds and his decision affecting the lives of his grandfather, sister, and Ashling. Reviewer: Hilary Crew
School Library Journal
12/01/2013
Gr 6–9—Middle-schooler Conor O'Neill has a tendency to believe his grandfather's stories from Irish mythology and folklore despite the rest of his family's clear disdain for such tall tales. Teased for being afraid of everything, he is forced to face his greatest fears when a banshee shows up in his bedroom one night, looking to escort a family member to the underworld and earn her own mortality. The two become cautious friends as the banshee, named Ashling, decides to follow him to school with both humorous and disastrous consequences. When Conor makes the brave choice to head to the underworld and rescue a family member from death, he starts to respect himself. At times wildly funny, and at times creepily spooky, Texting the Underworld merges a realistic setting with fantasy, seamlessly creating a touching story full of suspense, action, and excitement.—Sharon McKellar, Oakland Public Library, CA
Kirkus Reviews
Fantasist Booraem (Small Persons with Wings, 2011, etc.) turns her attention from art to another great human endeavor: death. Timorous 12-year-old Conor O'Neill is scared of spiders, doesn't want to play hockey and is dubious about leaving Southie to attend Boston Latin. When a banshee shows up, ready to keen for an imminent family Death, he is sent directly over the edge into terror. Who's to die? His parents? His beloved, Irish-to-the-core grandfather, Grump? His "soul-sucking demon warrior" of a little sister, Glennie? Conor himself? Cripes. Rookie banshee Ashling needs her Death; it's the only way she can move on from the Underworld and into a new life. Hoping to find a loophole, Conor, Glennie and an ailing Grump venture with her into the Underworld to talk to the Lady and undergo the test of the Birds in order to gain power over life and death. Booraem applies a light touch to her heavy subject. Iron Age–era Ashling eagerly, if inaccurately, adopts 21st-century slang and catches up with old Trivial Pursuit cards; the various denizens of the Underworld--a gleeful olio of afterlife mythologies--squabble like those who've been cooped up together too long. But she doesn't avoid staring death in the face, saddling her likably unlikely hero with an agonizing decision that, though framed in fantasy, is all too gut-punchingly real. Like Conor, readers will emerge from this adventure a little bit better equipped for heroism than before. (Fantasy. 10-14)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781101593356
Publisher:
Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
08/15/2013
Sold by:
Penguin Group
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
320
Sales rank:
766,963
Lexile:
590L (what's this?)
File size:
1 MB
Age Range:
10 Years

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