Friday, October 31, 2008

The Underneath

by Kathi Appelt

When a calico cat is abandoned in the woods, she wanders until she stumbles across a broken-old home where an old hound is tied to a chain. Together, the hound and the calico, raise two kittens in the area underneath the house, where the hound's horrible owner will not find them. Laced within this story, is the story of Grandmother an ancient snake who was buried in a pot over 1000 years ago and is longing for the day of her freedom and revenge; and Gar Face, a man so severely beaten by his father that he is deformed, who is trying to capture a gigantic crocodile.

I suspect this is a story that you will like more than I. Remember when I talked about not really liking animals as main characters? This book is a perfect example. The book is well written, the animals only talk to themselves (not to people, which I hate), and the story is fairly intriguing, but it just didn't really do anything for me.

I did however enjoy watching the two different types of characters: those that let their anger/hatred control them and those that didn't. It talks about the dangers of anger:

"Anger and hatred, wound together, have only one recourse. Poison. Poison filled Grandmother's mouth, her cotton mouth...Grandmother vowed revenge, a vengeance so bitter it glazed her skin and sharpened her terrible fangs." (p 103)

The story however, is broken up into 1-3 page chapters that kind of bounce around, both between characters and in time. I had a difficult time following the time line because it really wasn't linear. It is also fairly repetitive. Grandmother says the same things over and over, and the story itself repeats a lot of the same things. I can see the reason behind the repetition, but it got pretty old by the end of the story.

There is some fairly horrendous animal abuse (and talk of animal abuse) in this book. It's not necessarily graphic, but it's definately there.

Overall, I thought the story was ok. Most people seem to have liked it more than me though, so don't necessarily take my word for it.

3 out of 5 stars


Laura H said...

Thank you KT. I thought I was the only one. Every blog review LOVED this book and I thought it was just OK. I'm with you on this one.

KT said...

Laura H - I always worry when I don't like a book that everyone else seems to love. It's good to know you agree with me :)