Roland Smith has taken readers to the rainforest, to the bottom of the ocean and to many other exotic places. In “Beneath,” Smith takes us to New York City, and to the world underneath the city. It’s no less exotic and no less dangerous than the other adventures Smith has shared with readers.
In “Beneath,” Smith creates perhaps his quirkiest characters. Coop, Pat’s brother, is different. He doesn’t have friends, he doesn’t use email, he doesn’t talk on the phone. He just digs. He loves being underground.
When Coop disappears after a huge fight with their parents, Pat misses him. And when he mysteriously hears from Coop a year later, Pat worries that Coop might be in danger and sets out to rescue him.
In New York City, Pat follows the clues that Coop has sent him and uses his power of observation to determine that Coop has joined a group of people living off the grid underneath the city. He also finds that there is another group of people who are living even further underneath the ground.
When Pat meets Kate in the underground, she offers to lead him to Coop, who is imprisoned by the those who live in the Deep. It’s all very mysterious, but Smith unravels the mystery slowly, and by the end, all the bits and pieces that he’s knit into the tale fit into place, and the story is complete.
It’s told by Pat in first person narrative, which is very effective because of his claustrophobia. While Pat climbs and crawls through very tight spaces in the dark underground, the reader knows exactly what Pat is thinking and feeling. The reader also knows what Coop has felt because of his recordings. He recorded what happened to him and has sent those recordings to Pat. They become the second voice in the story.
Smith is a masterful author. He is able to throw out seemingly unrelated occurrences and coincidences and tie them together at the end perfectly. The ending brings some closure to the story, but there is certainly enough there for Smith to do what he excels at — write a sequel.
Please note: This review is based on the final hardcover book provided by the publisher, Scholastic Press, for review purposes.
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