LABYRINTH by John Herman


Age Range: 12 & up
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Two parallel stories take place side-by-side in this ambitious novel, but neither is fully realized. Gregory lives in modern America, where he is suffering from his father’s suicide a few years earlier. Gregor lives in the Home Country, where he is chosen to be one of the Golden Ten young men sent every ten years to the Mother Country. Each boy dreams about the other and the patterns of their lives become increasingly similar. Gregory gets involved in a burglary scheme in which he crawls through sewer tunnels under the city; Gregor and his companions find themselves about to be sacrificed to the Minotaur, wandering through the labyrinth on their way to likely death. Unfortunately, readers will be frustrated by the unanswered questions and undeveloped themes. Gregory’s mother keeps saying his father killed himself because of mental illness, but that key fact in the boy’s life is left hanging. Incredibly enough, Gregor and his friends don’t notice that none of the previous groups of Golden Ten ever returned home. The narrative voice, which often reflects Gregory’s thoughts, is uneven and sometimes totally off, describing the girl he likes as “a heady mixture of young lady and daredevil,” hardly the thought of a 14-year-old boy. In the end, the two stories come together in the labyrinth, where Gregor apparently escapes and Gregory confronts his internal monster, his anger at his father’s suicide, in a confusing dramatic scene. Part problem novel, part fantasy, this needed more space to expand on its settings and themes, and solidify its interesting structure. (Fiction. 12+)

Pub Date: June 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-399-23571-X
Page count: 208pp
Publisher: Philomel
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 2001


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