Library Journal Review
A lifelong love of Antarctica puts a sheltered 14-year-old in grave danger in this 2008 Printz Award winner. Symone's hearing disability and disinterest in boys alienate her from her peer group. Her only friend is Capt. Laurence "Titus" Oates, a long-dead victim of Robert Falcon Scott's 1912 expedition to the South Pole. She will need his expertise when her Uncle Victor invites her along on his own polar exploration. Cold Weather Appeal: Be sure to crank up the furnace. Between the freezing temperatures and the vast white landscape, frostbite is a real reading hazard. Why It Is for Us: Fans of Paul Theroux's The Mosquito Coast will recognize Uncle Victor's particular form of madness long before our heroine does. At the 2008 ALA Conference, Printz committee members sported buttons featuring an image of the real Captain Oates declaring "Titus is a hottie." The imaginary relationship between Symone and Titus is so very sweet that you may think so, too.-Angelina Benedetti (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly Review
Symone, 14, narrates McCaughrean's (Peter Pan in Scarlet) tale about the trip of a lifetime gone horribly wrong. Hearing-impaired and unpopular, Sym appreciates the attentions of "Uncle" Victor, her dead father's business partner and the family's seeming benefactor. Victor, an eccentric genius obsessed with proving the discredited Hollow Earth theories of John Symmes, has fostered in Sym a lifelong fascination with Antarctica. Indeed, Sym's only companion is an imaginary friend, Lawrence "Titus" Oates, who perished in 1912 during Captain Robert Scott's ill-fated expedition to the South Pole. Sym is thrilled when Victor spirits her off for an impromptu trip to Paris, which morphs-incredibly-into a trek to Antarctica, as the two join a crowd of rich tourists for a guided look at "The Ice's" astounding landscape. Victor aligns with Manfred Bruch, a purported Norwegian filmmaker, and his son. Guests and guides alike become mysteriously ill, and the tour is cut short, but the plane intended to return the group to safety explodes. After Victor's "nice cup of tea" induces sleep in everyone else, the four abscond on Victor's mad quest for Symmes's Hole. The heroine's relentless self-deprecation, a necessary element of her unconditional acceptance of Victor, is nonetheless somewhat overplayed. But the ratcheting terror, thrilling double-crosses and gorgeously articulated star character-Antarctica itself-combine for a girl's adventure yarn of the first order. Ages 12-up. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Booklist Review
Fourteen-year-old Symone's only friend is an imaginary incarnation of Captain Laurence Titus Oates, an explorer who accompanied Robert Scott on his failed expedition to the South Pole. Sym is passionate about the Antarctic and her infatuation is fed by Uncle Victor, an eccentric family friend who has cared for Sym and her mother since Sym's father's death. When Victor surprises Sym with a trip to the Ice, she has some doubts, especially when she discovers that her mother can't come. But her excitement overshadows her initial misgivings--until realizes that Uncle Victor has an obsession of his own that runs deeper than the glaciers and threatens her life. It's not always clear whether Titus' voice is imagined or if it's meant to be shy, bookish Sym's only link to the outside world, but McCaughrean's lyrical language actively engages the senses, plunging readers into a captivating landscape that challenges the boundaries of reality. Best suited to older, better readers despite the age of the protagonist, this imaginative, intellectually demanding novel offers plenty of action. --Jennifer Hubert Copyright 2006 Booklist