Tuesday, January 4, 2011

YA titles

When the library first received David Whitley's The Midnight Charter, I read the first and last chapters. (I sometimes do this, to get a feel for the books.  I don't recommend this as a habit.) The last chapter only posed more questions, making the book very appealing.  Here's the set up.  In the city of Agora, everything has a price; lives, emotions, time, even compliments.  Every transaction is sealed with a contract and the contracts are all stored in the Registry Office.  Two teens work for Dr. Theophilus and his grandfather, Count Stelli, the Great Astrologer, in Count Stelli's tower.  When Count Stelli bans his grandson from the tower, Lily trades places with Mark and goes into the city with Dr. Theophilus.  Mark stays behind and is trained to be the next great astrologer of Agora.  Neither teen knows that their individual choices are being watched closely by the Director of the Registry.   Mark allows himself to led deeper and deeper into the contractual world of Agora.  Lily works against those endless contracts and starts a charitable shelter for debtors, the lowest of the low in Agora.

Whitley's descriptions of the different ends of Agoran society are lavish and complete.  The ways that people's lives are controlled by the contracts they sign create a labyrinth of deception. Secret societies, murder, theft, chicanery, treachery - it's all in The Midnight Charter.  Read this atmospheric - almost nightmarish - fantasy/adventure.  The book is suitable for teens through adults.

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