The Boxes

William Sleator, Author
William Sleator, Author Dutton Books $15.99 (208p) ISBN 978-0-525-46012-1
Reviewed on: 06/01/1998
Release date: 06/01/1998
Prebound-Other - 196 pages - 978-0-613-28428-8
Paperback - 196 pages - 978-0-14-130810-4
Prebound-Sewn - 978-0-606-18833-3
Open Ebook - 208 pages - 978-1-101-14163-2
Prebound-Glued - 196 pages - 978-0-7807-9944-8
Peanut Press/Palm Reader - 208 pages - 978-1-101-14255-4
Hardcover - 167 pages - 978-0-340-78766-3
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Like Pandora, 15-year-old orphan Annie has been given a box she is forbidden to open, opens it nonetheless and unleashes something horrible. But Sleator adds a twist: Annie has a second box. Moreover the telepathic crab-like beasts that came out of the first box may appear to be the evils of the world but turn out to be the protagonist's only hope for self-actualization. As in The Beasties, Sleator creates a community of strangely empathic monsters and a teenager who, when pressed into their service, discovers the mission isn't noxious but fulfilling. The creepy-crawlies worship a god/plant/clock that lives in the second box. They build a subterranean palace, order Annie about and enact enigmatic rites, saying things like: ""The Lord will be very happy about the swing ritual, and the two more who are sacrificed to the Lord's goodness"" (in reference to two creatures who are swung in a suspended boat and fall to their deaths). Unfortunately, a stereotypical crew of evil land developers and a less than compelling wizard figure (Annie's nearly absentee Uncle Marco) keep the tale on a superficial level. And readers may be disappointed in the ending, which sends Annie off on a cliffhanger of an adventure and never explains the process between creatures and clock, or Uncle Marco's role in it. Perhaps Sleator has a sequel in store; in the meantime, this is his signature high-style ick and suspense, but without sufficient payoff. Ages 10-up. (May)
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