Monday, June 4, 2012

SM Johnson ~Bloody Monday~ Dark Ground Trilogy

Good morning, Darlings!

Since pop culture hasn't been begging me to read a new "latest and greatest" story, I decided to revisit a dark trilogy that I read in the past. I could not remember the name and I could not remember the author. I Googled keywords for a couple of hours, but still had no luck putting a name to what I remembered of these books. I know, right? My bad.

But here is what I knew: I checked these books out in hardcover from the actual, physical library. So that is where I went to find them. And find them I did.

The Dark Ground trilogy, by Gillian Cross.

YA books. Very dark, violent in it's own way (though not like Hunger Games, by any means), and rather disturbing YA books, to tell the truth.

This will be a little bit spoilery, but not much more than the book descriptions themselves, so I think it should be okay.

Robert gets shrunk down very small - about the size of the thumbnail (the one on your thumb, not the book cover on this blog) and dumped into an unfamiliar environment, that actually turns out to be a very familiar environment. He finds his way to a cavern that houses a society of people, all of whom have somehow become small.

This fist installment is definitely a wilderness adventure story, and quite well done. One of the cavern people that Robert knows he will miss terribly is a girl named Lorn, who teaches Robert how to weave intricate braids.

Robert does return to his regular size and his regular life. He tells everything to  his sister, Emma, and they become allies determined to help the small people in the cavern survive the winter.

When Robert's friend Tom finds a braid similar to the complicated braids Robert can make, the teenagers investigate and discover a family who has kept their daughter in a hole under the floor for all of her life.

The girl can braid. In fact, weaving is about the only comfort the girl has.

The three teenagers rescue the girl (Hope) from under the floor, but she is stunted and strange, and not at all okay. Robert, Emma, and Tom have a plan that will be impossible to carry out if they call the police, so they are on their own working out what to do about Hope.

They are still trying to help the small people in the cavern, and still trying to figure out how people become small, and if there's any way to make them big again.

This is a raw and complicated dark story, and just when you think there might be some redemption, you read book three.

I just read the trilogy for the 2nd time. Somehow I became convinced that I had never read the Nightmare Game, because when I thought about the story, I had strong feeling of incompleteness.

The truth of the matter is that the story never quite comes all the way around to completion. I'm not sure it was ever meant to. At the end of this book is a deep, unsettling feeling of uneasiness. And to counter that, the brain wants to know the practical details: how old is Hope, really? Does she turn out some sort of normal? Does she return home, and if so, can her mother and brother allow her to become integrated into the real family?

What happened to Magee? What happened to the people in the cavern? And what is happening to Tom?


Despite all my questions and my sense of incompleteness, I quite love this story. It's like a really dark, complicated version of Honey I Shrunk the Kids. Without the comedy.

PS - it's my 13th wedding anniversary today, and marks 20 years together for my husband and I. Yaaaaay!

It seems like forever. But then the time has gone by in a blink. How odd that my heart can fully embrace both of these feelings - all at the same time.

Maybe living with that contradiction is what makes it work, hmm?

Happy Monday, darlings.

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