The White Darkness. By Geraldine McCaughrean. (2007). New York: HarperTeen. ISBN-10: 0689867042.

Plot Summary

Sym has always had an obsession with The Antarctic, and is in love with Titus Oates, the doomed explorer of the 1900s Scott expedition to the Antarctic. This obsession partly comes from Sym’s Uncle Victor, who fed her tales of the Antarctic her whole life. When Victor takes Sym on the trip of a lifetime to the Antarctic, against the wishes and knowledge of her mother, he puts Sym’s life in inexplicable danger.
Critical Evaluation

Psychological thrillers are not too common in Young Adult Literature, but McCaughrean managed to create one that is intriguing and of high literary quality. The bleak landscape of the Antarctic is stunningly described by McCaughrean, and Sym’s inner mind is as interesting and informative as the place she inhabits for a time. Woven in is the tale of Titus Oates, and the race for glory which becomes a matter of life or death.

McCaughrean’s use of simile and metaphor relating to Antarctica is genius, as is her exploration of the human mind, imagination, and obsession through the characters of Sym and her Uncle Victor.
Reader’s Annotation

Sym has always been obsessed with the Antarctic, so when her Uncle Victor whisks her on the trip of her dreams, she goes willingly. Soon though, she will realize that Uncle Victor’s obsessions are downright dangerous, and she’ll have to do whatever she can to survive.
About the Author

Geraldine McCaughrean is the author for over 150 books for children, teens, and adults alike.

She decided to be a writer when her older brother, Mel, published his first book at the age of 14. She was a very shy child and, like Sym, found comfort in her imagination.

Nowadays, she has a 20-year-old daugher, Ailsa, to read her stories, a husband, John, to check her stories, and a Golden Retriever, Daisy, to eat her stories.

-Psychological Thriller

Curriculum Ties

-Explorations of Titus Oates

Booktalking Ideas

-Explorations of Titus Oates

-Obsession and its dangers

Reading Level/Interest Age

Ages 14-16
Challenge Issues

None, though the book might be more easily understood by teens slightly older than Sym’s 14 years.
Why Did You Include This Book?

Geraldine McCaughrean received the Michael L. Printz award in 2008 for The White Darkness.

Best Books:
Booklist Book Review Stars , Dec. 1, 2006 ; United States
Booklist Editors’ Choice: Books for Youth, 2007 ; American Library Association; United States
Capitol Choices, 2008 ; The Capitol Choices Committee; United States
Choices, 2008 ; Cooperative Children’s Book Center; United States
Kirkus Best Young Adult Books, 2007 ; Kirkus; United States
Kirkus Book Review Stars, December 1, 2006 ; United States
Middle and Junior High School Library Catalog, Supplement to Ninth Edition, 2007 ; H.W. Wilson Company; United States
Senior High Core Collection, Seventeenth Edition, 2007 ; The H. W. Wilson Co.; United States
YALSA Best Books for Young Adults, 2008 ; American Library Association; United States
Awards, Honors, Prizes:
Los Angeles Times Book Prize, 2007 Finalist Young Adult United States
Michael L. Printz Award, 2008 Winner United States
State and Provincial Reading Lists:
Delaware Diamonds, 2008-2009 ; Nominee; HighSchool; Delaware
Grand Canyon Reader Award, 2010 ; Nominee; Teen; Arizona

About thesuperlibrarian

High School Librarian and obsessive reader! On a mission to read as many SUPER YA books as possible!
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