Ann Halam, Author . Random/Lamb $14.95 (256p) ISBN 978-0-385-73008-2

Halam (aka adult SF and fantasy author Gwyneth Jones) delivers a nightmarish thriller of white-knuckle intensity. Semirah, the shy, self-deprecating narrator, is among a group of 50 British teen winners of a science contest who are on their way to work with conservationists in Ecuador. Disaster strikes quickly: before the first chapter ends, a plane crash (was it a foiled hijacking?) strands Semirah and two other survivors on a remote island. Slowly and surely, the author turns the screws as Semirah, in the company of smart, brave Miranda and dishonest Arnie, watches every plan founder. Arnie sneaks off on his own and, as Miranda and Semirah gradually realize the full horror of their plight, their misery and dread become almost palpable. But even the worst of their experiences seems almost idyllic when they finally find the island's inhabitants: the mad scientist Dr. Franklin and his terrified employees. Dr. Franklin can hardly wait to start performing his trans-species genetic-engineering experiments on human subjects, and Miranda and Semirah are to be his first candidates. "The bogeyman had got us," Semirah realizes. "Nothing could save us: but we didn't have to die screaming." The characterizations are even richer and more credible than the premise is outlandish, and Halam heightens the tension by thoroughly imagining each stage of the girls' reactions to Dr. Franklin's elaborate cruelties. Only the cathartic ending will free readers from this scary novel's inexorable pull. Ages 14-up. (May)

Reviewed on: 05/06/2002
Release date: 05/01/2002
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Open Ebook - 1 pages - 978-1-299-02144-0
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