The White Darkness

The White Darkness

by Geraldine McCaughrean

Paperback(Reprint)

$9.99
View All Available Formats & Editions
Choose Expedited Shipping at checkout for guaranteed delivery by Monday, November 25

Overview

Winner of the Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature!

“Completely gripping.” People

“Dazzling.”—The Observer

Geraldine McCaughrean—two-time Carnegie Medalist for Where the World Ends and Pack of Lies—takes readers on a spellbinding journey into the frozen heart of darkness with this lyrical, riveting, and imaginative young adult novel.

Symone "Sym" Wates is not your average teenage girl. She is obsessed with the Antarctic and the brave, romantic figure of Captain Oates from Scott's doomed expedition to the South Pole. In fact, Oates is the secret confidant to whom she spills all her hopes and fears.

But Sym's uncle Victor is even more obsessed—and when he takes her on a dream trip into the bleak Antarctic wilderness, it turns into a nightmarish struggle for survival that will challenge everything she knows and loves.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060890377
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 12/30/2008
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 221,556
Product dimensions: 5.04(w) x 7.10(h) x 0.77(d)
Age Range: 13 - 17 Years

About the Author

Geraldine McCaughrean is the Printz Award-winning author of The White Darkness. She has been honored with England's most prestigious children's book award, the Carnegie Medal, and is the only three-time winner ever of the Whitbread Children's Book Award. She also wrote Peter Pan in Scarlet, the first official sequel to the treasured masterpiece Peter Pan, and the critically acclaimed The Death-Defying Pepper Roux. Geraldine lives in Berkshire, England, with her husband and actress daughter.

Read an Excerpt

The White Darkness


By Geraldine McCaughrean

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2007 Geraldine McCaughrean
All right reserved.



Chapter One

"Titus"

I have been in love with Titus Oates for quite a while now--which is ridiculous, since he's been dead for ninety years. But look at it this way. In ninety years I'll be dead, too, and then the age difference won't matter.

Besides, he isn't dead inside my head. We talk about all kinds of things. From whether hair color can change spontaneously to whether friends are better than family, and the best age for marrying: 14 or 125. Generally speaking, he knows more than I do, but on that particular subject we are even. He wasn't married--at least, he wasn't when he died, which must have substantially cut down his chances.

Uncle Victor says I shouldn't marry at all. Uncle Victor knows about these things and he says that "marriage is a bourgeois relic of Victorian sentimentality." That suits me. No one would match up to Titus. And we have a kind of understanding, Titus and I.

Uncle Victor is marvelous. He's done so much for us--for Mum and me, I mean. And anyway, he's just so clever. Uncle Victor knows a fantastic amount. He knows at what temperature glass turns to liquid, and where Communism went wrong and how the Clifton Suspension Bridge was built and just what the Government ought to be doing; you can't fault him. He's read books about everything: history, geography, politics, astrology, animals . . . the Fount of AllKnowledge, Dad used to call him.

I would get stuck doing my homework, and Dad would say, "Ask the Fount of All Knowledge." And I'd telephone Victor and he would tell me. Quite often he knew more than the teachers, so they'd think I'd got my homework wrong, but as Victor says, "What teachers don't understand is that the body of learning is still growing. They reckon it stopped the day they came out of college. That, or they're plain ignorant. Lot of ignorance in yon schools."

It's true that none of my teachers knows much about Antarctica. When Dad and Victor and I went to Iceland, one of the teachers had been, too, and knew all about Dettifoss and the hot springs and people having stinking saunas in their backyards. But none of the teachers at school has been to Antarctica. Some of them know about Scott of the Antarctic going to the South Pole and not coming back. But they mostly mean John Mills in the movie. I don't.

In the general way of things, I don't know much about anything. Uncle Victor says I'm "the victim of a shoddy education system." But I do know about the Polar Regions. The bookshelves over my bed are full of books about the North and South Poles. Icebound almost. A glacial cliff face teetering over my bed. I remember, the night after Dad had been rushed into the hospital, one of the shelves sheared off and crashed down on me. I woke up thinking the house was collapsing--books gouging at my head, bouncing off the bed frame, slapping flat on the floor. I looked at the hole in the wall and the brackets on the pillow and I didn't know what to do.

About the shelf. About anything.

So I went back to sleep, and dreamed that I was sailing toward the Ross Ice Shelf, and that crags were splitting off its face, plunging down, massive as seagoing liners foundering.

Come to think of it, Uncle Victor gave me most of my ice books. Every birthday and Christmas. Books about The Ice and the North Pole; about Shackleton and Scott, Laurence Gould and Vivian Fuchs, Nansen and Barents, Franklin and Peary; about penguins and polar bears, whales and seals and boreales . . . About Captain Lawrence Oates--the one they called "Titus." Uncle Victor understands how the whole idea creeps up on you like pack ice--pressing in and pressing against your head, then crushing the hull and tumbling inside. . . . If we ever did a project at school on Antarctica, I could shine. Like Mount Erebus in mid-summer, I could, I could shine!

Except that I don't think I would choose to. It's all bound up with Titus, and I know better than to mention Titus at school. I do now, anyway. I made that mistake once. I won't do it again.

"Symone has a pretend friend! Symone has a pretend friend!"

It was the conversation about kissing--or snogging, as they invariably call it. Like the ant nest in the larder: You think you've done everything to be rid of it--that it can't possibly come back again--but there it is: "How many boys have you snogged?" There is no right answer. You say "none" and you're sad and frigid or they know someone whose brother would be willing to snog you for cash. You refuse to answer and you are sadder still--or hiding something, or prefer girls, or . . . It's not that they care; they only want to tell you how many they've snogged--chiefly because they like saying the word. It makes them feel as if they are wearing red underwear. But on and on they go: "How many boys, Sym? How many boys have you snogged?"

Why is it that all the words to do with sex are ugly? Words to do with love aren't. No wonder Titus thought women were a nuisance. No wonder he died without ever . . . getting mixed up with all that.

Anyway, I said that I could do without it. (At least that's what I tried to say. I don't explain things very well out loud.) I tried to say that I was happy to stick with imagining for the time being, thanks all the same. Later, maybe. If I ever met anyone who could compare with Titus . . .

And after that I was the mad girl--sad, frigid, and mad, all three--the retard who had an imaginary friend: "Like little kids do, oo-hoo. Like little kids do!"



Continues...

Excerpted from The White Darkness by Geraldine McCaughrean Copyright © 2007 by Geraldine McCaughrean. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

White Darkness 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 44 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was not 'easy' to read, but the suspense and grittiness and even romance kept me entranced and just as I was about to be disappointed in the ending, the author threw in a little twist that left me with a smile on my face and a happy heart. Very satisfying read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Sym, the narrator, told this novel in a down-to-earth way and I enjoyed her spritzes of dark humor. The author Geraldine McCaughrean used excellent imagery so Sym's thoughts were crystal clear. Her tale of traveling in the snowy void of Antarctica with her eccentric Uncle Victor was an engaging one, that had more than a few well-defined and outrageous characters. Sym's active imagination was something that I especially noticed since few people have great imaginations nowadays I grew very fond of her charming companion, Titus Oates, who turned out to be more than just a figment after all. I was able to easily identify with Sym's self-doubt and reluctance to mingle. What started out as just a harmless jaunt to the South Pole with her uncle turned into a fruitless quest to find Symmes's Hole which just as quickly turned into a nightmarish fight for survival against the elements and just-as-unpredictable humans. This terrifying tale had me hanging on every last ice-frosted word!
mkschoen on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
SPOILERS Strange little book (well, not that little). Symone is a nerdy unpopular girl with hearing aids and a painful shyness. She is also obsessed with Scott's Antarctic expedition, in particualr with Capt. "Titus"Oates, so much so that she spends most of her time having conversation with the version of the Captain that lives in her head.She lives with her mother and "Uncle" Victor, a strange man who shares her obsession with the Antarctic. It soon becomes clear that he has many other opbsessions, some extremely dangerous. He essentially kidnaps her for a trip to the Antarctic, where his madness takes over and puts them both in danger as he tries to find a pathway to a hidden world. Sym has to fight to stay alive, and to uncover the truths about her past from her uncle: what exactly was his relationship with her father? Did her father really hate her? How did she become deaf? Are the filmmaker Bruch and his son Sigmund really who they say they are.The book was relatively fast-paced, but read almost as is it were written in a fever dream. There were bits and pieces where I could relate to Sym - she's nerdy and unpopular; at 14 she isn't ready for sex and doesn't understand her schoolmates' rush to grow up. But she starts out a bit crazy, with the imaginary suitor/friend/father figure which makes it all a bit difficult. You can understand (particualrly as an adult reading teh book) how her warped upbringing made her this way, but it doesn't make it any easier to see the world through her eyes.What to read next. Tough one. Kids who like the stuff about Antarctica could obviously go on to some non-fiction about the expeditions. (Although I kept thinking of the Monty Python sketches). The mad obsessions put me somewhat in mind of "The Road to Wellville" or even some Henry James. Symone to some degree reminded me of Flavia De Luce from "Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie."
cinnleigh on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Titus Oakes is a long dead adventurer, having met his maker on a doomed trip to the South Pole. He¿s funny, witty, charming and lives entirely in Symone¿s head. Even though he is 125-years-old, he loves Symone and cares for her at times like a big brother and other times like a romantic gentleman.Our heroine of THE WHITE DARKNESS, Symone, is a shy fourteen-year-old girl. She doesn¿t like to give speeches and hates to be pestered about her nonexistent love life. In her world, boys are immature and she has no interest in spending any quality time with them. She has Titus; what more could a girl ask for? Why waste time dating younger boys when she has her mature and charming adventurer at her beck and call?THE WHITE DARKNESS is a story of friendship, adventure, betrayal and survival. Symone is a strong girl, bound and determined follow her Uncle Victor to the ends of the Earth and back. Uncle Victor, an interesting and then suspicious fellow, feeds her sense of adventure as he pulls her down in a mystery so dangerous that they will be lucky to make it out alive. Meanwhile, Titus plays the part of Sym¿s true friend and confidant, frequently making appearances and helping Sym along the way as they unravel the secrets of The Ice. Two other players, Manfred and Sigurd, show up as father and son, chosen by Uncle Victor to help lead them on this treacherous journey. This new pair brings with them a whole new mystery; one that Symone has to unravel before time runs out.THE WHITE DARKNESS was a great read. It had a fantastic storyline and was full of sharp twists and turns. The complexity of the characters was just amazing. Geraldine McCaughrean does an amazing job of developing her characters. Symone¿s mother is really the only character that we didn¿t get to know very well and she was only present in a handful of pages. McCaughrean lends real-life traits to her characters, making them both legendary and believable. Symone is easy to relate to with her quite nature and yet still has her own quirks that make her unique. Where I got stuck in THE WHITE DARKNESS was in the flow of the writing. McCaughrean has a habit of creating short sentences or sentence fragments and this slowed me down while reading the story. Don¿t get me wrong; it was still great, just difficult to read. The discussion between Sym and Oakes as well as Sym and everyone else was differentiated by italicized text, but it was still difficult at times to figure out which parts Sym was imagining and which parts were really occurring. Perhaps this is all part of the story, I¿m not sure. Either way, it was a great book, but one that requires quite a bit of concentration and rereading.
TZacek on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Poor Sym. She is a ¿sad weirdo who runs on nerd power.¿ Obsessed with Antarctica, she has a hard time relating to her peers. So when a family trip that was supposed to take them on a short jaunt through Paris turns into the adventure of a lifetime, Sym jumps at the chance and is off to The Ice. But things aren¿t working out like they were supposed to. People are getting sick, and the plane meant to bring them home explodes¿ somehow. Soon, Sym is seeing more than she ever expected she would of Antarctica, whether or not she wanted to.So many novels start out this way. With the weirdo kid who doesn¿t fit in and then has a trial or adventure that forces them to change their outlook and ¿come of age.¿ Still, the rubric for this sort of book works and Sym kind of reminds me of Charlie from The Perks of Being a Wallflower, seeming to be slightly autistic in that speaking to others is awkward and uncomfortable but in her head, she is quite bright. Her inner monologue with a ghost is interesting and revealing of her personality. I saw a lot of the plot twists coming (the lying uncle, the con men, the ¿interested¿ cute boy), but perhaps after reading Dr. Franklin¿s Island, maybe I was ruined for all suspense afterwards.
emitnick on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This one is a stunner. 14-year-old partly deaf, awkward Sym is taken by her "uncle" Victor on a sudden journey to Antarctica, a place that has always held fascination for both Sym and Victor. In fact, Sym's rather vivid "imaginary friend" is Titus Oates, who accompanied Scott's ill-fated expedition to the South Pole and who died there at age 32. But there are signs from the beginning that this trip is not exactly on the up-and-up - Sym is aware of this but never seems to get up the energy or gumption to question her uncle too intently. As Victor's mania becomes more and more evident and their adventure becomes more extreme and dangerous, Sym reluctantly rises to the occasion (with the help of Titus), showing all the pluck and ingenuity she never thought she'd possess. The reader lives in her head the whole way (along with Titus), and it's a tribute to the author that it's a remarkable voyage all the way.
chibimajo on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Printz award winner. This books was so very, very weird. The uncle was stark raving mad and after a point, nothing he does anymore is shocking, because he's so crazy. This was one of the strangest, weirdest books I've ever read. I don't understand why the Printz committee selected it as a winner, but I can see it being of interest to teens because it's so crazy.
ohioyalibrarian on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a fantastic book! A girl whose life and circumstances have been such that her only friend is a dead Antarctic explorer she carries around with her in her head (Titus Oates, a real historical figure) finally realizes her dream of visiting the Antarctic when her uncle takes her on a surprise trip. Upon arrival she is in awe of the glittering super-bright whiteness that overpowers all else with a sense of blinding nothingness. As the story proceeds a series of dangerous events makes her wonder how so much whiteness could ever become so dark. Just as the real Titus Oates found himself stranded and starving, she ends up fighting for her life in the white darkness of the Antarctic.
abbylibrarian on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
So many people have loved this book... I think it's just not my thing. After the death of her father, 14-year-old Symone, excruciatingly shy hearing-impaired geek with an imaginary friend, is whisked away on a surprise trip to Antarctica by her Uncle Victor. From the start you can sense that something's not right here. Victor's acting fishy, lying to Sym about their destination, stealing her mother's passport so she can't come with them... and things just get bleaker and bleaker as the journey goes on. My frustration is that Sym is so blinded by admiration for her Uncle (who's actually just a close family friend, not a blood relative), that she can't see that things are horribly wrong. Also, the fact that Sym is so shy and the "person" she talks to most is a dead historic figure who only exists insider her head... well, it's a very odd perspective. I will say that there is some great writing in this book, though. The plot and characters just didn't do it for me.
MaowangVater on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Fourteen-year-old Symone struggles to survive in the coldest desert on earth, Antarctica. Adding to her trials are her traveling companions: a fanatic ¿uncle¿ obsessed with finding an entrance to the hollow earth and two confidence men. With friends like these, it¿s no wonder that she relies on the companion of her imagination, Captain Lawrence Oates, who died on Scott¿s expedition to the South Pole in 1912, for sound guidance.This is a ripping good adventure and survival story that spooks the reader with enough spooky chills to simulate the Antarctic cold.
Girl_Detective on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A compelling mix of history, mystery and imagination. 14yo Symone goes on holiday with her uncle, and ends up in Antarctica. Her only trusted friend is an imaginary one--the ghost of explorer Laurence "Titus" Oates who died on Scott's mission 90 years ago. Things go from bad to worse as Symone is forced to contront ugly truths about her past and her present danger. Well written, exciting, and informative.
francescadefreitas on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
My favourite character is Titus, the imaginary boyfriend. Although boyfriend isn't quite the right word. Mocked at school, detested by her now dead father, Sym's only sources of affection are her brilliant but flakey uncle and an Antarctic explorer she imagines to keep her company. And when her uncle takes her to Paris for the weekend, she needs that company more than she ever expected.Actually, I'm wrong. My favourite character is the Antarctic - she is so wonderfully described that I could see the blues, and feel the sharp hooks in the ice.Sym is an interesting girl, and her gradual understanding of what's going on, as well as the truth behind her life in the past captured my imagination.I'd give this books to someone looking for a thriller, or interested in the history of Antarctic exploration.
meggyweg on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This had some beautiful descriptions of the Antarctic wilderness and would appeal to fans of both Gary Paulsen type survivor stories, and ordinary young adult readers. Sym was a delightful, unique protagonist and Titus Oates, her imaginary friend, was a fully developed character in his own right. I will definitely read more by this author.
mmillet on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is one of the most intellectual and well-written amazing teen books I've read in a long while. Sym travels with her Uncle to the South Pole and experiences the drama and madness of the whiteness that is the ice shelf first hand. Truly great writing a story that continually left me astounded with it's brilliance. I just can't say enough. This book was great.
tahoegirl on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Boring and weird. What kind of freaky fourteen year old has an imaginary friend?
kelleykl on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Excellently written. This books may only have limited appeal to high school students. Partially because it is written with British idioms, but also because it takes place under unusual circumstances. Well-read students looking for a challenging book will appreciate this one. Personally, I really appreciated how the author uncovered little pieces of the back story as the novel went on as the narrator herself discovered these things. And for some reason, I really got the whole Titus-in-her head thing.
GaylDasherSmith on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It will take a certain kind of reader to enjoy this strange tale of a girl obsessed with Captain Oates, a member of a party that tried and failed to be the first to reach the South Pole. Through trickery by a trusted family friend, she ends up repeating his journey with near disastrous results. Compelling but odd.
MrsHillReads on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I wanted to like this book--at times it was fascinating--but for long periods of time it was just strange. It had the feeling of being set in an earlier time; yet, there are satellite phones and other modern conveniences. Sym is just so naive; I couldn't like her. Uncle Victor's obcession was so complete! So, OK, it's a Printz award winner--I bet when the book is discarded in 5 years it won't have been read 4 times.
rj_anderson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I wavered over whether to choose "I really liked it" or "It was amazing" for this one, but I went with the four stars in the end because it's such a dark book in so many ways that I'm not sure I'd want to read it again. On the other hand, I might just to pick up on all the details I'd missed.The gorgeous yet narrator-appropriate language in this book, the amount of research that must have gone into it about Antarctica, just staggers me. It is possibly the weirdest book I have read all year, and I'm quite sure it has a large number of people who hate it with a rabid passion just because of that, but I didn't find Symone difficult to care about or sympathize with even when she seemed almost impossibly strange and naive, and I definitely wanted to know what Uncle Victor was up to (the author does a very good job, I think, of giving you an ominous squirming feeling right from the beginning that something is Not Quite Right with this whole scenario), so I kept reading.Oh, yeah, and of course I was shipping Symone/Titus. If you don't buy into Titus then you are not going to like this book, but I could readily believe that Symone could retreat into her own head to the degree that Titus became real to her, and yet be intelligent and aware enough not to deep down TRULY believe in his existence (and there are ample clues to that throughout the book -- she really does know better).One possible flaw is that the circumstances in which Symone finds herself, and the characters who surround her, are almost too wildly eccentric to seem real -- and yet it seems like such a quintessentially British approach to storytelling, and I've seen it done so many times even with real people (Gerald Durrell's MY FAMILY AND OTHER ANIMALS comes to mind, or the works of James Herriot) that after a little while I gave up being skeptical and went with it. Your mileage may vary.Anyway, it's weird and brilliant and drives me to total despair when I think of my own attempt at writing a psychologically complex novel with an emotionally repressed heroine, so I have to say I admire it.
vortega on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Writing as brilliant and pristine as the vast virginal landscape of the South Pole. The surreal story unfolds slowly; suspense builds and is sustained through an almost deafening crescendo and swift denouement, as the main character's imaginary world collides with a terrifying reality. The author uses language deftly to envelop the reader into the hostile elements of nature, found within both the actions and motivations of the characters and the novel's setting.
jmalinasky on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Great read for young adults and adults.
EuronerdLibrarian on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Something about the writing and presentation of the story in this book diffused all suspense and excitement. Instead of being difficult to put down, it was slow and took work to get to the end. The development of Sym as a character left something to be desired--the author didn't get me to love and care about her like I should have. Sym seems somewhat emotionless and passionless as well as too naive for her age.
LizzySiddal on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a tale of obsession, madness and survival and it is a tale told by an author in full control of her material.The story starts slowly as our semi-deaf and bullied heroine, Sym, tells of a childhood during which she has retreated into a world inhabited only by her bosom buddy, Captain Titus Oates; he who accompanied and died during Scott's fateful trip to the Antarctic. It is an obsession prompted by her genius Uncle Victor who has fed her a diet of Antarcticana for as long as she can remember. Victor has been a benign substitute father since her own died and when she is fourteen he takes her on what she thinks is the trip of a lifetime. Once in Antarctica the pace accelerates into a high-octane adventure, while revelation after revelation strips Sym's reality bare and leaves the reader breathless. For it transpires that Uncle Victor has a cunning plan ......Antarctica is as much a personality as any of the human characters in this book. Stunningly beautiful, it gradually acquires a life-threatening madness and malevolence paralleling that of Sym's uncle. Woven throughout the adventure, there is much relating to the geography and the history of the region. There is also a solid foundation course in arctic survival techniques. Yet all this information is so skillfully blended into the narrative, the reader does not notice the educational value of the material.A fabulous, fabulous novel - one which must surely set the standard for YA fiction.
FionaCat on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Symone is a shy 14-year-old who is obsessed with the Antarctic and especially Titus Oates, a member of Scott's ill-fated expedition to the South Pole. When her uncle Victor whisks her away on a trip to Antarctica, she is thrilled but also wary of the other tourists. Soon, though, it becomes clear that it is her uncle Victor whom she should be wary of as things begin to go wrong and she finds out why he brought her to Antarctica.This is a beautifully written novel, full of wonderful imagery and breath-taking adventure. Symone's relationship with Titus Oates (whom she talks with in her head) rings true. In fact, of all the other characters she encounters Titus seems the most "real" and even though Symone has an imaginary friend, she is clearly the sanest person in the story. As frightening as the harsh Antarctic environment is, it is nothing compared to the horror of a madman obsessed with an impossible dream.
jsjohnso on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Sym (14) lives in England with her mother. Her father, whom she believes did not love her is dead. Her Uncle Victor has invited her and her mom to go to Paris for a holiday. When they are about to leave, her mom cannot find her passport. So Sym and Uncle Victor go ahead. Once in Paris, Uncle Victor has more plans, they join a group to Anartica. Sym is thrilled. He has been giving her books for years about the Scott expedition and other historical sagas featuring the place, and in her own odd way, she has created an imaginary companion in the long-dead Captain Oates from that doomed Scott expedition. Once in Antarctica with a group of tourists, she finds she fits in better than she is used to fitting in--this is a place she has spent years preparing for. After they get to the South Pole, things start happening--the phone has been damaged and does not work, the plane catches on fire and is destroyed. After the fire everyone has tea brewed by Uncle Victor and they go into a deep sleep (drugged.) This is when the story becomes very intense--Uncle Victor, Manfred Bruch, and Segurd (pretend son) leave the group in search of the underworld of the South Pole. They take the Hugglund vichicle and start out on their own. This is when Sym finds out about her uncle. He hid the passport, killed her father, destroyed the phone, plane and even leaves Manfred to die. However, Uncle Victor reveals his madness, his lifelong passion to prove there is a gate to the interior of the Earth near the pole, and in his madness he takes Sym and some others into the white darkness that is Antarctica. Then the story becomes one of survival, and Sym finds strength and essential knowledge from the dead Titus who is with her. The minute details of the landscape, the doomed expeditions--both Scott's and Uncle Victor's--and the imagined mind and heart of Sym as she survives and becomes reborn in a way: these are the elements of this story that make it unusual and challenging. Captain Oates, hero of the Antarctic, has been dead for nearly a century. But, not in Sym's head. In there, he is her constant companion, her soul mate, her adviser. It is as if he walked out of the Polar blizzard and into her mind. In fact, if it were not for Titus, life might be as bleak a place as the Antarctic wilderness. Then, a short family expedition makes her ask the question she has long been avoiding: who but the mad trust for happiness to someone or something that isn't there? Near the end of the story when Sym and her Uncle are the two left, the reader feels that all hope for survival is gone. But they come upon Sigurd (who also deceived Sym) and they remember that Uncle Victor has a phone they can try to use. They do get a call through but other rescue efforts are underway. After the plane was destroyed Americans think terrorist are involved and they begin the search for everyone. As Sym, Segurd, and Uncle Vicotr are about to the end, they hear a plane. A tourisst aircraft sees their tent flying in the air and they are rescued. Very gripping and involved.