De Becerra’s haunting supernatural thriller will stick to readers’ skin long after the final page is turned... Suspense, gore, spooky imagery, and creepy plot developments come through via bloodcurdling nightmares, group hallucinations, and uncontrollable desires and obsessions.” Booklist (starred review)
“Readers will be engaged as Alif and the others encounter one crisis after another, and small details woven throughout the plot build to a surprise ending . . . An X-Files–worthy survival story.” School Library Journal
“Tense, electric storytelling that makes you wonder what you would be willing to sacrifice to have your deepest longings fulfilled.” Rachael Craw, award-winning author of The Rift
“de Becerra successfully builds a fraught tension throughout the book that mirrors the characters’ feelings as reality leaves them behind . . . well worth the payoff.” The Bulletin
“If you’re someone who enjoys fantasy reads set in contemporary times with accurate referencing to science and technology with great suspense and mind boggling mystery, then this is the one for you!” The Nerd Daily
“Beautifully written, with tense storytelling, lush descriptions, and vibrant, complex characters, OASIS is an eerie, mind-bending novel that you don't want to miss!” Erin Cashman, author of Uncharted
“Magically eerie and creepy with a side of amazingly weird.” Candace Robinson, author of Quinsey Wolfe’s Glass Vault and The Bride of Glass
PRAISE FOR KATYA DE BECERRA'S WHAT THE WOODS KEEP:
“Blending mythology and a contemporary story of family drama, de Becerra's debut novel is a narrative that will keep readers enthralled.” Booklist
“Spooky atmospherics and moral ambiguity complement the blend of science and myth to create a thoughtful and compelling horror fantasy.” Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
“The characters in this debut novel are interesting and modern, particularly Hayden’s humorous, vibrant roommate... Adds a new angle to the “small town with a secret” genre.” VOYA
Gr 9 Up—Recent graduate Alif is looking forward to a summer working on her father's archeological dig in the desert with her four closest friends. Then a sudden sandstorm hits, sweeping the dig site away and leaving Alif, her friends, and research assistant (and longtime crush) Tommy lost in the sands of Dubai. Fearing the worst, the six are relieved to stumble onto an oasis, even if something seems to be watching them from the trees. But the oasis may not be a refuge after all. Time and space are distorted, and the young people quickly turn on one another as reality shifts around them. The six main characters are diverse and distinguishable, but the friendship between them doesn't always ring true. And though the group spends only a third of the book at the titular oasis, the haven becomes a character itself. Foreshadowing prepares readers for an eerie introduction to the sanctuary, and manipulation and determination are common. Readers will be engaged as Alif and the others encounter one crisis after another, and small details woven throughout the plot build to a surprise ending. VERDICT An X-Files-worthy survival story for readers who prefer a book with more questions than answers.—Maggie Mason Smith, Clemson University, SC
Alif Scholl and five of her friends leave Melbourne for the deserts of Dubai, where her archaeologist dad is leading an excavation.
Recent high school graduate Alif looks forward to getting closer to her crush, Tommy Ortiz, her dad's research assistant. But things at the site seem to be off. A mysterious, sunburned Frenchman appears out of nowhere, mumbling about a powerful force from Mesopotamian folklore called Dup Shimati. Rumors of a fantastical desert world suddenly seem possible. Following a sandstorm, Alif is stranded with Tommy and her friends. They come upon a lush oasis teeming with fruit—pears, apples, and strawberries—that shouldn't grow there. The famished, dehydrated group consumes the fruit and fresh spring water. That night, disturbing dreams haunt Alif, making her sleepwalk and attempt to poison her friends. The others begin acting strangely too. The line between dream and reality begins to blur, especially after they find a tablet with sinister powers. The book explores the very real tensions teenagers face in grappling with their desires and learning to understand the importance of trust. While the narrative is engaging overall, with a spirited and ethnically diverse cast (Alif has a Jordanian British mother and German American father), the characters feel underdeveloped and the attempt to play with multiple realities falls short, leaving readers confused by sweeping transitions and sudden, jarring events. Some descriptions border on Orientalism.
Overly ambitious. (Science fiction. 12-18)