The One Safe Place by Tania Unsworth, NOOK Book (eBook) | Barnes & Noble
The One Safe Place

The One Safe Place

3.7 4
by Tania Unsworth
     
 

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“What is this place?”

In a drought-stricken world, Devin and his grandfather have barely scraped out a living on their isolated farm. When his grandfather dies, Devin knows he can’t manage alone and heads for the nearest city to find help. But in the city he finds only children alone like him, living on the streets. Then a

Overview

“What is this place?”

In a drought-stricken world, Devin and his grandfather have barely scraped out a living on their isolated farm. When his grandfather dies, Devin knows he can’t manage alone and heads for the nearest city to find help. But in the city he finds only children alone like him, living on the streets. Then a small act of kindness earns Devin an invitation to the Gabriel H. Penn Home for Childhood—a place with unlimited food and toys and the hope of finding a new home.

But Devin soon finds out that the Gabriel Penn Home is no paradise. A zombie-like sickness afflicts many of the children who live there—and it will claim Devin, too, unless he can become the first to find a way out of this dystopian nightmare.

“[A] chilling and engrossing tale . . . A standout.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“Fast-paced and gripping. An original dystopian story.” —School Library Journal, starred review

“A timeless story that deserves to become a children’s classic for decades to come.” —The Christian Science Monitor

A Summer 2014 Kids’ Indie Next List Pick
One of the Christian Science Monitor’s 25 Best New Middle Grade Novels of 2014

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
02/10/2014
In her first book for children, Unsworth takes readers inside the sinister and secretive world of the Gabriel H. Penn Home for Childhood—a refuge for specially chosen orphans in a bleak, scorching, and none-too-distant future. Devin has spent his young life on a secluded farm, “a pocket of richness” in an otherwise dry wasteland, with his grandfather. After his grandfather dies, Devin leaves for the city in order to survive. There he meets Kit—a girl with a dark past and quick, thieving hands—and Roman, who lures them both to the Home. With a photographic mind and heightened senses, Devin immediately suspects foul play at the Home, despite its extravagance and the too-good-to-be-true amenities it has to offer. Unsworth unravels the story with skilled deliberation, creating a page-turning mix of suspense, intrigue, and anxiety. The kids are genuine and quirky, just the right kind of mismatched misfits to snag readers’ hearts. This is a wholly enjoyable journey, and a dystopian vision with some great new twists. Ages 10–up. Agent: Rebecca Carter, Janklow & Nesbit. (Apr.)
Review quotes

“This frightening and mysterious book surprised me again and again. Unsworth has created a world where nothing is as it seems and horrors lurk around every corner. When you read it, you will quickly discover one terrifying fact--there IS no safe place!” —R. L. Stine

“Tania Unsworth has written a lightning-fast and spine-chilling novel . . . Readers will root for Devin with white knuckles and pounding hearts.” —Michael Grant, New York Times best selling author of Gone, BZRK, and The Magnificent 12

“[A] chilling and engrossing tale filled with detailed, sharply drawn characters . . . A standout.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“[A] marvelous dystopian thriller . . . The novel is beautifully paced, the setting vivid, the plot disturbing, the finale thrilling.” —The Buffalo News

“Reminiscent of Clive Barker’s The Thief of Always . . . Fast-paced and gripping. An original dystopian story for middle-grade readers.” —School Library Journal

“Unsworth unravels the story with skilled deliberation, creating a page-turning mix of suspense, intrigue, and anxiety. The kids are genuine and quirky, just the right kind of mismatched misfits to snag readers’ hearts. This is a wholly enjoyable journey, and a dystopian vision with some great new twists.” —Publishers Weekly

“This book has echoes of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road and in many ways, although clearly aimed at the teenage market, is as compelling as an adult read. Written in a simple, almost matter-of-fact style which fits the subject matter very well and with a satisfying ending, it’s a very believable story and an excellent debut for Tania Unsworth.” —We Love This Book magazine

From the Publisher
“This frightening and mysterious book surprised me again and again. Unsworth has created a world where nothing is as it seems and horrors lurk around every corner. When you read it, you will quickly discover one terrifying fact—there IS no safe place!” —R. L. Stine

“Tania Unsworth has written a lightning-fast and spine-chilling novel . . . Readers will root for Devin with white knuckles and pounding hearts.” —Michael Grant, New York Times best selling author of Gone, BZRK, and The Magnificent 12

“[A] chilling and engrossing tale filled with detailed, sharply drawn characters . . . A standout.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“[A] marvelous dystopian thriller . . . The novel is beautifully paced, the setting vivid, the plot disturbing, the finale thrilling.” —The Buffalo News

“Reminiscent of Clive Barker’s The Thief of Always . . . Fast-paced and gripping. An original dystopian story for middle-grade readers.” —School Library Journal

“Unsworth unravels the story with skilled deliberation, creating a page-turning mix of suspense, intrigue, and anxiety. The kids are genuine and quirky, just the right kind of mismatched misfits to snag readers’ hearts. This is a wholly enjoyable journey, and a dystopian vision with some great new twists.” —Publishers Weekly

“This book has echoes of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road and in many ways, although clearly aimed at the teenage market, is as compelling as an adult read. Written in a simple, almost matter-of-fact style which fits the subject matter very well and with a satisfying ending, it’s a very believable story and an excellent debut for Tania Unsworth.” —We Love This Book magazine

Voya Reviews, April 2014 (Vol. 36, No. 1) - Janice M. Del Negro
Devin lives with his grandfather on a hidden, verdant farm in a world turned near-desert by the havoc of climate change. The rich live in the city, insulated from the poor, hoarding all the resources. His grandfather’s sudden death leaves Devin unable to run the farm on his own, so he heads to the city for help. What he finds instead is violence, deprivation, and feral street children. He also meets Kit, who helps him survive despite his generous impulses. Devin is recruited by the mysterious Roman to the Gabriel H. Penn Home for Childhood, a near-legendary place where children are fed, clothed, and housed in luxury. The opulent but unsavory atmosphere cannot hide that the children are actually prisoners, however, and their fates are precarious: elderly rich “visitors” pay exorbitant fees to temporarily change minds with healthy children, despite the eventual brain damage suffered by the youngsters in the process. The discovery of this deception propels Devin and his pals to action—they escape, burning the place to the ground in the process, and decide to return to the farm to live communally. The world building is sketchy, and the lack of specificity undermines the energy of prose that more tells than shows. While the home’s dark deeds add some suspense, the pace is stolid and the outcome predictable. Characterizations are types with quirks, and backstory is added expeditiously to explain motivation. Despite a somewhat distancing third-person narrative, the language is accessible, and younger fantasy readers may be willing to follow Devin from bucolic farm to wicked city and back again. This is Unsworth’s first book for younger readers. Reviewer: Janice M. Del Negro; Ages 11 to 15.
Children's Literature - Tina Chan
Devin lives on a farm with his grandfather. Devin is used to living in a world that is always hot. When Devin’s grandfather dies, he leaves the farm for the city. He walks for days and sees things he has not seen before, such as cars, buildings, and homeless children. One of them is Kit, a tough girl accustomed to stealing to survive. Devin stays with her on a rooftop. When it rains, they go to a school gym, where they see other homeless children. After a storeowner wrongly accuses Devin of stealing, a boy named Roman rescues Devin. Roman noticed Devin at the school gym, and offers Devin an invitation to a place where children can live, play, and eat all they want. The one caveat for Devin is that Kit must go with him, to which Roman reluctantly agrees. When they arrive at the Gabriel H. Penn Home for Childhood, Devin notices children with strange behavior that he has been instructed not to look at, and he meets an intimidating Administrator who runs the Home. Devin discovers that children are taken to the Place, a room where children are injected to have Dreams. The children’s strange behavior that Devin saw is a result of being in the Dream. Nobody can leave as the property is configured with invisible lasers. Devin and his friends Kit, Luke, and Malloy devise a plan to escape by getting the key around the Administrator’s neck that unlocks the control box in the Administrator’s tower, the code to release the lasers, and they must distract the Administrator from the tower while they enter the codes in the control box. Readers will not want to stop reading this thrilling story. Reviewer: Tina Chan; Ages 12 up.
School Library Journal
★ 03/01/2014
Gr 5–8—Twelve-year-old Devin's loss of his grandfather leaves him unprepared to take care of their formerly self-sufficient farm—one of the precious few left on the face of the earth. He leaves this oasis hoping to find some willing hands to help him keep the farm going. Instead, the people he meets in the city are so devoid of morals or compassion that when Devin and his new friend, Kit, have a chance to go to the Gabriel H. Penn Home for Childhood, they seize the opportunity. It isn't long before Devin senses that this home is a little too good to be true. Though surrounded by amusements, beautiful grounds, and plenty of food, the other children are morose, nervous, and listless. Occasionally Devin runs across a child acting in a bizarre, disoriented fashion, yet he is advised by the other children to completely ignore these episodes and never mention them again. The Administrator of this institution interviews Devin and informs him that he is gifted in ways he never understood. His five senses overlap—for instance, visually perceived objects have accompanying sounds only Devin can hear. The Administrator closes the interview with the sinister words, "I'm saving you for something special". This book is reminiscent of Clive Barker's The Thief of Always(HarperCollins, 1992). The suspense and dread build as the mystery gradually unfolds, but it stops short of becoming truly horrific. The conclusion is fast-paced and gripping. An original dystopian story for middle-grade readers.—Kathy Cherniavsky, Ridgefield Library, CT
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2014-01-22
A group of orphans uncovers a sinister plot in this chilling and engrossing tale filled with detailed, sharply drawn characters. Sometime in a future rife with climate crisis and brutal polarization of wealth, Devin buries his beloved grandfather and sets out to find someone to help him maintain the farm on which he's grown up. In the city, he struggles to find enough food to live on until he meets a clever, street-wise girl named Kit. When Devin is invited by another boy to the Gabriel H. Penn Home for Childhood and insists that Kit be included too, the pair is initially delighted at the abundance of food and other comforts, but they rapidly begin to see that something terrible underpins the home. There are many familiar tropes here, the dystopian setting and the uncanny perfection of the orphanage among them. Yet Unsworth's use of unadorned but vivid language—such as her description of Devin's mind in a moment of panic being "battered by fear and confusion like a bird beating its wings against the bars of a cage"—is incredibly effective. Likewise, the straightforward third-person narration and the gradual resistance that builds among the children to the unique horrors at the home are convincingly well-paced. A standout in the genre's crowded landscape. (Dystopian thriller. 10-16)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781616204044
Publisher:
Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
Publication date:
04/29/2014
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
320
Sales rank:
226,023
File size:
2 MB
Age Range:
10 - 14 Years

Meet the Author

The daughter of the late novelist Barry Unsworth, Tania Unsworth spent her childhood in Cambridge, UK, before moving to America in her early twenties. She currently lives in Boston, Massachusetts, with her husband and two sons. She’s the author of The One Safe Place. Her website is www.taniaunsworth.com.
 

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