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The Outcasts

L. S. Matthews, Author
L. S. Matthews, Author . Delacorte $15.99 (259p) ISBN 978-0-385-73367-0
Reviewed on: 11/12/2007
Release date: 11/01/2007
Library Binding - 259 pages - 978-0-385-90382-0
Open Ebook - 157 pages - 978-0-307-49721-5
Open Ebook - 1 pages - 978-1-299-21004-2
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A school field trip turns into a surreal, life-altering adventure for five teenagers in this foray into science fiction from British author Matthews (Fish ). The five are among a group chosen by their school to spend a week doing “field work” at a manor in the English countryside, famous for an ancient skull found on the property that purportedly screams from time to time and is said to cause disaster if removed from the site. The students display a mixed bag of personal challenges—abusive or absent parents, unspecified emotional or behavioral needs. On the day they arrive, however, the skull is missing. As the five gather in a room known as “the professor’s study,” something akin to an earthquake occurs and the students find themselves in another “dimension,” where they are forced to rethink what they know about the nature of time and space. The bulk of the narrative involves a series of narrow escapes from death—poisonous jellyfish, a menacing black panther, a man-eating crocodile—that will propel many readers to the finish. However, the hand of the author can be felt at every turn, with thinly veiled messages about the importance of teamwork and not prejudging others. The hokey conclusion shows each student their “possible” future, rosy lives that provide (most of) them with the material comforts and social connections they currently lack. Ages 12-up. (Nov.)

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