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Review of A World Without You

revis_world without youA World Without You
by Beth Revis
High School    Razorbill/Penguin    371 pp.
7/16    978-1-59514-715-8    $17.99    g

Two alternating and emotionally entangling first-person narrations present different versions of reality and of the novel’s events. Bo tells readers that he attends the Berkshire Academy for Children with Exceptional Needs, an exclusive boarding school for students with supernatural powers. Bo and his classmates are all learning to master their abilities, from telepathy to pyrokinesis to Bo’s own power of traveling through time. But after a terrible accident that leaves Bo’s girlfriend Sofía stranded in the past, government officials infiltrate the school, weakening Bo’s powers and sabotaging his efforts as he desperately tries to rescue Sofía. Meanwhile, Phoebe, Bo’s younger sister, is a driven, high-achieving high-school junior with limitless possibilities before her and no idea what to do with them. Phoebe’s narration reveals that Bo suffered a mental breakdown and was sent to Berkshire to deal with his grandiose delusions of controlling time. Ever since then, Phoebe has dreamed of nothing but the freedom to be imperfect — a freedom she has always envied Bo. When Bo’s girlfriend commits suicide, Phoebe is frightened by her brother’s further sinking into delusion and psychosis and by her own thoughts that her world would be more stable without him. In YA’s answer to Shutter Island, Bo’s belief in his powers ensnares readers, who will then find themselves unable to escape Bo’s terrified confusion and distrust as the reality in which he has supernatural powers instead of severe mental illness begins to crack and finally shatters.

From the July/August 2016 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

About Anastasia M. Collins

Anastasia M. Collins is a children’s literature scholar and academic librarian. She holds an MS in library science and an MA in children’s literature from Simmons College and the Center for the Study of Children’s Literature.

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