When they were younger, Liza and Patrick’s babysitter, Anna, told them stories about the various creatures that were largely unseen in the “real” world. The scariest of these were the spindlers—they would steal children and replace them with a sort of pod creature that looked and acted just like them—except the pod that replaced them was also full of spindler eggs. Eventually, though, the eggs would hatch and the creatures would scurry away. And the replacement pod thing would just vanish.
Liza always believed her babysitter, but now she knows that it’s true. Her brother has been replaced by one of those creatures and no one will believe her. So now it’s up to Liza to get him back.
This is an absolutely delightful middlegrade book. It reminded me a lot of Labyrinth, actually—especially in terms of the creatures that Liza meets Below while she’s trying to find the real Patrick.
The best part, though, is the fact that Liza is absolutely terrified but at the same time completely unwavering. She knows Patrick is down there somewhere and she won’t stop until she can find him and bring him home. It’s hard because (a) none of the grownups will believe her and (b) again, absolutely terrified. But she’s the only one who can save Patrick because she’s the only one who knows that he needs to be saved. It’s good to see such an example of bravery (because really, it’s not brave if you’re not afraid).
I do prefer her YA novels but her middlegrade ones are fantastic, as well.
Recommended and I can’t wait to see what Lauren Oliver writes next.