The Haven: A Novel

( 3 )


For the teens at The Haven, the outside world, just beyond the towering stone wall that surrounds the premises, is a dangerous unknown. It has always been this way, ever since the hospital was established in the year 2020. But The Haven is more than just a hospital; it is their home. It is all they know. Everything is strictly monitored: education, exercise, food, and rest. The rules must be followed to keep the children healthy, to help control the Disease that has cast them as Terminals, the Disease ...

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For the teens at The Haven, the outside world, just beyond the towering stone wall that surrounds the premises, is a dangerous unknown. It has always been this way, ever since the hospital was established in the year 2020. But The Haven is more than just a hospital; it is their home. It is all they know. Everything is strictly monitored: education, exercise, food, and rest. The rules must be followed to keep the children healthy, to help control the Disease that has cast them as Terminals, the Disease that claims limbs and lungs—and memories.

But Shiloh is different; she remembers everything. Gideon is different, too. He dreams of a cure, of rebellion against the status quo. What if everything they’ve been told is a lie? What if The Haven is not the safe place it claims to be? And what will happen if Shiloh starts asking dangerous questions?

Powerful and emotional, The Haven takes us inside a treacherous world in which nothing is as it seems. “Imagine Anna Quindlen or Sue Miller turning her attention to writing a young adult novel, and you have an idea of what Carol Lynch Williams has done for early teen readers.” (Audrey Couloumbis, author of the Newbery Honor Book Getting Near to Baby)

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Haven Hospital & Halls exists in one of the more sadistic dystopias offered in the recent explosion of this niche—it’s an enclosed facility whose inmates, called Terminals, are kept drugged and indoctrinated, occasionally taken out for surgical mutilation, allegedly to stem the progression of the deadly disease infecting them. Shiloh, the narrator, has already lost a lung, and others have lost arms and legs. A brew called the Tonic keeps them quiescent and forgetful as they await their next operations. But Shiloh has an unusually strong memory, and one of “the males,” Gideon, has an unusually strong will. It takes half the book for these two to join forces, at which point the search for escape and answers begins. Therein lies the problem: the chemically lobotomized characters don’t know what is happening to them or why and lack the gumption to drive much discovery. Thus, while Williams (Waiting) painstakingly details their horrific days and hints of Shiloh’s awakening, the plot stagnates, and character development consists mostly of fear and confusion. Ages 13–up. Agent: Stephen Fraser, Jennifer de Chiara Literary Agency. (Mar.)
From the Publisher
"Deliciously enigmatic." —Kirkus Reviews

“The minute I read Carol Lynch Williams' The Haven, I knew I was in love with this book. First, it's a great story. Secondly, it touches on some important real-world issues going on right now.” —

"Williams successfully employs an emotionally resonant first-person narrative to tell a story that is both horrific and uncomfortably plausible....Gripping."  —Booklist

“With themes similar to Lowry’s The Giver and Farmer’s House of the Scorpion as well as Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go, it’s still a compelling work in its own right—atmospheric, tense, and thought provoking. Shiloh’s voice is believable, and her poignant yearning for experience—once she stops taking the Tonic—and her musings on the meaning of life and what it means to be human will linger with readers for a long time.” —The Horn Book

“Williams’s futuristic world is a chilling one….readers will be caught up in piecing together the disturbing truth about the Haven and then seeing how the escape plan unfolds. Between ethical considerations and an ambiguous ending, this is sure to spark discussion.” —VOYA


Voya Reviews, April 2014 (Vol. 36, No. 1) - Cathy Fiebelkorn
Shiloh and the other teens living at the Haven Hospital and Halls are “Terminals” being treated for an unknown disease that causes them to lose limbs, organs, and their memories. Those in charge at the Haven claim they want to protect the residents from the dangerous outside world and help them fight the disease, but the reality is far more sinister. Staff members closely monitor everything to make sure Haven residents do not socialize too much, interact with the opposite sex, touch one another, or talk of rebellion. Medicinal tonics are given to ensure the Terminals are drugged into a compliant stupor. When fellow residents Abigail, Gideon, and Daniel try to show her the truth about the Haven and why they are really being kept there, Shiloh resists. She has been thoroughly brainwashed and feels a strong urge to report her peers to the authorities. A part of her is able to recall some of her memories, however, and as the evidence stacks up, Shiloh realizes that she has been fed nothing but lies. The four of them vow to escape the Haven and save the other Terminals, but their rebellion must be carefully staged, as they are always under the watchful eye of the administration. Williams’s futuristic world is a chilling one. Despite less-developed characters and a few plot stretches that bring forth some questions, readers will be caught up in piecing together the disturbing truth about the Haven and then seeing how the escape plan unfolds. Between ethical considerations and an ambiguous ending, this is sure to spark discussion. Reviewer: Cathy Fiebelkorn; Ages 12 to 18.
Kirkus Reviews
Shiloh lives with her fellow Terminals in a hospital that claims to protect them from the Disease that threatens them in this creepy dystopia about a doctor who uses children as commodities. As the story is told entirely from Shiloh's limited point of view, readers only slowly discover the true reason the children live such a controlled existence inside Haven Hospital & Halls, established in 2020. They have an excellent diet and eat prodigious amounts of food. The facility includes a good school with caring Teachers. Principal Harrison may be stern, but he appears to care for them. They have nice rooms, shared with a few other children, and lovely grounds. They may not, however, leave. Frequently, during their dining-hall lunches, Dr. King calls for a child by name. That child then goes to Treatment, sometimes to return, sometimes not. Blissfully ignorant Shiloh drops clues as to the hospital's true purpose for readers, and eventually, even she learns the truth and joins a group of student rebels. Williams, who is developing quite a varied repertoire, manages the information meted out by her deluded narrator with great skill. The simple but gripping focus on only one aspect of her dystopia sheds light on a moral question that young readers will have no difficulty answering: Are all people created equal--or not? Deliciously enigmatic. (Dystopian thriller. 12 & up)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312698713
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 3/4/2014
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 246,039
  • Age range: 13 - 18 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.20 (w) x 5.50 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

CAROL LYNCH WILLIAMS, who lives in Provo, Utah, was awarded the prestigious PEN/Phyllis Naylor Working Writer Fellowship. Her novel The Chosen One won the Whitney and the Association of Mormon Letters Awards for the best YA novel of the year. The Chosen One and Glimpse were both named "Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers" by the ALA, which also named Miles from Ordinary among the "Best Fiction for Young Adults" in 2012. 

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Read an Excerpt




They came during lunch. They always do. You know, to get one of us.

We bent over our plates of grilled salmon, fresh green beans, and blueberries with cantaloupe. Close enough to whisper. Close enough to touch, if we dared. I could smell the olive oil used to cook the fish. My mouth watered. I couldn’t wait to start eating. In my mind I chowed down this fuel, making my body stronger (I hoped). A better performer (I hoped). Well.

Abigail, someone I’ve known as long as we can both remember, leaned toward me. “It’s like you’re eating with your nose,” she said. “Like some kind of Smell-O-Vision or scratch and sniff.”

“Either works,” I said. Ms. Iverson, who monitors our table, makes sure we eat, and helps Miss Maria set out our Tonics, nodded over her plate like she wanted to eat, too.

A younger Terminal, not yet eight years old, stood.

“About time,” I said in a loud whisper.

“Glorify this food to give us strength,” the male said.

“Glorify this food to give us strength.” We spoke in unison.

“Glorify this food to cure our ills.”

“Glorify this food to cure our ills.”

“Glorify this food to make us Whole.”

“Glorify this food to make us Whole.”

“Glorify this food to make us perfect for the good of our Benefactors.”

“Glorify our Benefactors,” we said, touching our foreheads.

The Terminal sat and the sounds of talking and silverware clinking on china filled the dining room.

I took a bite of the melon we grow here at Haven Hospital & Halls. It tasted sweet like summer sometimes is, though outside a snowstorm headed our way.

It was right after that tiny bite that the side doors to the cafeteria (the ones used only then) opened. These doors, almost as tall as the ceiling, and without windows, squeaked out a warning, but it was as if someone had dropped one of the lead crystal vases filled with flowers. The whole lunchroom went dead quiet. Just like that, hushed. I wasn’t sure I could take a complete breath.

“No no no.” My hands went cold, and without saying another word, I clasped them together to keep them from shaking.

In the whole of the cafeteria no one seemed to move. Nothing could be heard, though I wondered if my heart was as loud to others as it sounded to me. Were their hearts beating like mine? Two hundred plus of us in here, add in the Staff and Teachers, and not one noise, just beating hearts, maybe pounding hearts. The whole group looking at those gigantic doors opening. The light from an eastern window blinded me and then I could see.

Ms. Iverson stood, scraping her chair on the tiled floor, then sat down like she had made a mistake. Mr. MacGee reached out to her. They aren’t supposed to touch. It’s bad for us to see that. But they did, a brief finger-to-hand contact.

“Good afternoon, Terminals,” Dr. King said as he walked in through the double doors. He strode across the floor, and did that weird thing with his mouth, stretching it up at the corners. His voice was thin, lost in this room full of bodies and plush chairs, a room with tapestries on the walls, flowers everywhere. He waved like he was on parade or something, the sides of his lab coat fluttering because he took such big steps. That sunlight shone on his light-colored hair when he passed beneath it.

Right behind him came Principal Harrison, our pal, everyone’s pal. His ponytail bounced as he walked and his suit was neat, crisp. They hurried to the stage, climbing the stairs two at a time, like maybe they wanted to get this over with.

Did their hearts pound?

Just last month I practiced on that stage for the part of Nurse in Romeo and Juliet, a play about true sacrifice and giving. It seemed so long ago.

Mr. Tremmel, another teacher, ran for the handheld microphone from the china cabinet drawer.

We watched. Blood coursed through my veins like it wanted to get free. No, I wanted to get free. Run. Runrunrun. My feet shuffled.

Time slowed and sped up at the same moment as Dr. King and Principal Harrison stepped center stage, moving faster than any Terminal could. My hands clenched so that my fingernails dug into my palms. What would they say? Who would they call?

Abigail reached for me. Brushed her arm against mine. My head spun with a sudden dizziness and my stomach squeezed in on itself.

I thought, If I can count to a hundred before they start speaking. Yes, count. Onetwothreefourfivesixseven …

Dr. King and Principal Harrison are Whole—like our Teachers—and they scare me. Hearing the doctor’s name can make my tongue go dry as hot sand.

… twentyonetwentytwotwentythreetwentyfour …

Run! Stay! Count!

My throat went so tight, I thought that bit of lunch might come back up. I could taste cantaloupe again. No longer sweet—now it had the flavor of strong herbs or bad medicine.

… Say each number, don’t skip, don’t skip

… thirtyeightthirtyninefortyfortyonefortytwoforty …

“Not us,” Abigail said. Her voice almost didn’t make it the few inches to me. “Please not anyone I know.” She closed her eyes, then opened them again.

Someone, a little male on the opposite side of the room where all the males sit, let out a cry, and all at once three of the younger Terminals near him wailed out this inhuman sound, mouths and eyes wide open. Dr. King, standing at the front of the room now, tried to quiet them with hushed tones into the microphone. He motioned for their table monitor to help.

… sixtysixtyonesixtytwo …

“We have reports back now for…,” Dr. King said. He held up a manila envelope stuffed with paper and flapped it in the air.

“Stop that fussing,” Principal Harrison said. He pointed in the direction of the wailing males.

… seventyfiveseventysixseventyseven …

Mr. Tremmel leaned over their chairs. I could see him speaking. Two of the males quieted. The third did, too. But his mouth and eyes stayed open—wide. He gripped the table. His hair was blond as the edge of the winter sun.

The whole room felt trapped inside me, along with numbers. My skin felt raw, worried.

I hadn’t done it. Hadn’t counted fast enough. I would leave again or maybe Abigail. Miss Maria leaned in from the kitchen to watch.

“… reports are back for Isaac.”

The mic hummed, and a few Terminals murmured.


It wasn’t me. I wouldn’t go. A headache throbbed behind my temples, then left like it exited my ears.

Rituals, I had read in The Terminal Encyclopedia (and the words were now stuck in my head), were believed and practiced by some cultures, though this practice ended the American Terminal culture as we know it.

I thought, My counting ritual worked.

Dr. King stretched his mouth at us again, making his lips into that frightening half moon, then blew into the microphone and continued. “Isaac, after your meal, please go straight to your room. Someone will be waiting for you there. You’ll need your prepared bag, as you know.” He tapped the envelope. “I hope you all have your bags packed and at the ready. Do you?”

We nodded. The whole group of us.

Isaac, tall and red-haired, sat three chairs down from Gideon, who was Romeo in the play. Gideon. My stomach dropped into my lap. What now? First my heart racing, now my stomach lurching when I looked at this male. Definite signs of illness.

Isaac gave Dr. King a nod. Isaac’s lips were pinched—his freckles bright on his now-pale face. A Teacher near him laid a hand on Isaac’s shoulder and he curled forward then shrugged the Teacher away. Isaac stood, shaking his head like he wanted to clear it, and walked for the doors that led from the dining room. The regular doors that would take him to his bedroom. He took one last look at us all.

Isaac was leaving.

I swallowed.

I am not.

He raised his hand in an almost-salute and went into the hall.

He hadn’t even finished eating. The most important part of any Terminal’s day—consuming our nutrients—and he left a full plate behind.

Principal Harrison took the microphone from the doctor and said, “No gloomy faces here. We must keep the rest of you healthy, now, mustn’t we? Eat up. Only the best food, only the best care for you here at Haven Hospital and Halls. Clean your plates. We always recycle, reuse, and never let anything go to waste.”

No one made a sound.

Don’t move, don’t even breathe, and they may not see you, I thought.

The doctor and our principal left the room, going the way they had come, through the big doors that closed, this time, without a sound. Everyone took on life as minutes crept by. Terminals spoke to each other, soft at first, then the noise level grew.

I didn’t have the strength to pick up my fork. Abigail tapped the back of my hand. My head spun.

“Eat, Shiloh. Abigail,” Ms. Iverson said, from the far end of the table. “Lunch will be over soon. We don’t need you growing weak, too.”

“Yes, Shiloh,” said Abigail. Her forehead wrinkled. She got close enough for our cheeks to touch, though not quite. I slid away. “What would I do if you weren’t with me?”

I blinked to make the dizziness go away.

“Don’t ask that,” I said.

Abigail nodded. “I shouldn’t think of anything outside of Haven Hospital and Halls, but sometimes I do. Like, what I would do if you were gone?” Her voice dropped to a whisper. “I wish we didn’t live here.”

I gulped nothing but air.

“That’s preposterous. We’re Terminals,” I said, drawing out the word. “This is where we live.”

Abigail picked up her fork and pulled a bit of the salmon apart. “If,” she said. “What about if we didn’t?”

I shrugged. “I don’t know. I’ve never thought of being away from here.”

What do we expect at Haven Hospital & Halls? We are Terminal. I know this. We all know this. We leave. We take our prepared bags sometimes and go. But not like Abigail suggested. Like Isaac now. That kind of leaving is part of us.

“Imagine being free,” Abigail said. She whispered the words but they felt so loud, everyone in the Dining Hall must have heard them.

“Don’t say that,” I said. Her words made me uncomfortable. “It could have been you and saying this might make it you.” The thought of Abigail being called away was almost as bad as the thought of me being the next one taken out for Treatment.

You never know.

There is no pattern that I can distinguish. I remember everyone who’s left. And when, too. That information sticks in my brain. Things I need to remember (and things I don’t) stay around longer for me than for other Terminals, even with the Tonic.

“We never know who or when or why,” I said.

Ruth, sitting on the other side of me, said, “We do know.” Her huge brown eyes seemed even bigger than normal. “The Disease may strike at any moment, any time. We have to be prepared. We stay here and prepare for the worst.”

Abigail didn’t answer.

“We’re lucky to live here.” Ruth pointed with her knife. “Haven Hospital and Halls is the finest Treatment center available.”

Around us the noise in the dining room became a steady hum. Had the Terminals already forgotten about Isaac? Memories the medication should keep away were still close enough for me to touch.

Long ago, I quit telling Dr. King how much I remembered, because the increase in Tonics made me so sick, I couldn’t eat.

It’s best to keep some things to myself.

No one needs to know what’s in my head.

That irreverent thought made me want to tell on myself, but I pushed it away.

“Eat. Keep strong,” Ruth said. She ate like her words would keep her from leaving again.

Now Abigail’s lips were thin and white, like the blood had seeped from them. I brushed my fingertip against her arm, a quick touch, though it meant a burst of nausea. Her skin was as cold as if nothing ran through her veins.

“Ruth’s right, Abigail,” I said, and Ruth nodded. “You’ve heard the doctors. The better health we have, the better chance we have.”

Abigail turned to her food.

And though I wasn’t sure it would help, I finished lunch.


Copyright © 2014 by Carol Lynch Williams

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 9, 2014

    (Source: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a re

    (Source: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to St. Martin's Press and Netgalley.)
    Teenager Shiloh lives at The Haven Hospital and Halls, and most of all hates when her fellow inmates are called out during lunch and never seen again.
    The kids at Haven are ‘Terminals’, kids who are destined to die, and who must be kept away from the general population for fear of them catching disease.
    It seems that the staff may not have been 100% truthful with the kids at Haven though, and a revolution is brewing.
    Are the kids at Haven really ‘terminal’? Or do they have some other purpose?

    This was an okay story, but it didn’t really seem like anything new.

    Shiloh was an okay character, but she did come across as a bit dense at times. Okay, some of this may have been intentional due to the drugs she was on, but it was almost as if she didn’t want to know the truth, and was happy in her drugged-up little cocoon doing exactly as she was told.

    The storyline in this book reminded me of several other books, which explored very similar topics. People are cloned, their clones are used for spare parts, these clones are kept drugged and docile, until someone starts some kind of a revolution and the clones try to make it on their own.
    This story followed the above generalised plotline to a tee, and Shiloh wasn’t a strong enough character to really make the story more striking. I guessed most of what would happen, and there wasn’t really anything new here for me.
    The ending was okay, but played out as expected really. It also seems highly unlikely that the way this book ended would really be the end in this kind of a situation.
    Overall; an okay story, but not really anything new,
    6.5 out of 10.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 5, 2014

    Creepy and nerve-wracking in all the right places!  Haven Hospit

    Creepy and nerve-wracking in all the right places!  Haven Hospital and Halls has a secret, and for some reason Shiloh and Gideon are different from all the other children who live there. Since the Haven was established in 2020, the rules must be followed to keep everyone healthy, but why are so many of them missing body parts? And why do some of them simply disappear? Perfect for fans of Neal Shusterman's Unwind series and Nancy Farmer's The House of Scorpion. 

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 18, 2014

    Entertaining, disgust mixed with heartfelt emotions. Started a

    Entertaining, disgust mixed with heartfelt emotions. Started a bit confused, slowly the story build, my curiosity took a hold of me. I wanted to know, "Why Shiloh?" "Why the absence of emotions?" Always, "why?" The author's writing caused me to get anxious to a point I wanted to skip ahead, but I know BETTER! I needed to know the answer to that dreadful word again, "WHY?" and I reached the end of the book. I knew where the story was heading, NO THAT WAS A BIG FAT LIE! I was surprised. How the author manipulated the characters made this a worthwhile book to read. This is an, "Aw.....Shucks kind of book." Just saying! Oh, one more thing Shiloh's mind bantering caused me to silently say, 'ENOUGH.' Won this book on Goodreads, First Read Giveaway." Thank you, Darlene Cruz

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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