The Phantom Limb

William Sleator and Ann Monticone. Abrams/Amulet, $16.95 (224p) ISBN 978-0-8109-8428-8
As this thriller begins, Isaac, newly arrived in town, is totally miserable: “A mental darkness surrounded Isaac. He was fourteen, and he had no friends.” His father has recently died; his pianist mother is in the hospital, leaving him in charge of his grandfather, who has Alzheimer’s disease; and the malicious Fitzpatrick twins are making his life hell at school. His only fun comes from the sophisticated optical illusions that he collects. Then odd things start to happen: the hospital staff starts acting strangely as his mother gets sicker. Isaac finds a “mirror box,” a therapeutic optical illusion designed to give amputees the appearance of still having two hands, and while he’s playing with it, someone else’s hand appears in the mirror. Soon Isaac uncovers evidence that his mother is being slowly murdered and that other pianists have also died under mysterious circumstances. Unfortunately, this collaboration is not one of the late Sleator’s better works. The characters are broadly drawn, and the hospital plot isn’t particularly believable, although there’s plenty of action and a genuinely sicko villain. Ages 14–up. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/05/2011
Release date: 10/01/2011
Genre: Children's
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