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It might have been predicted that when the paranoid novel hit the YA lists it would be this humorless and straight. Still, young people will share Australian Graeme's uneasiness, then his horror, as first the McDonald's waitress ignores his order and his mother sets no place for him at the dinner table, then gradually he becomes totally invisible and everything turns dim and gray. Once Graeme has completely slipped through to a parallel ""Limbo,"" this becomes a more routine sci-fi story and as such less chilling than Christopher's Empty World (1978) which the situation recalls. Graeme meets two others in the same predicament and together they forage for whatever bits of food and firewood have also slipped through. Puzzling out their plight before he is overcome by darkness and disappears, old Jamie (one of the misplaced) suggests that perhaps God is not dead but absentminded. Fair enough, but then Graeme and young Marian, the third victim, make too much of this notion and spell out their own suggestion that ""we are pawns in a game so vast that we cannot even begin to comprehend it."" Ponderous as it is, though, their trite philosophizing is brief enough, and--though the ending is a trick on the order of waking up to find it a dream--kids will read that far just to find out what if anything is beyond the darkness.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1979
Publisher: Harper & Row