Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Amelia Kahaney
Fiction
For ages 13 and up
Unabridged audiobook (Digital)
Performed/read by: Rebecca Gibel
Audible, 2013 

Though the city she lives in, Bedlam, is full of crime, misery and poverty, Anthem Fleet has a perfect life. She is beautiful, smart, and is a gifted ballet dancer. She has a highly suitable boyfriend, Will, and her future prospects are bright.

   The one night Anthem goes to a party in Southside, the rough part of the city, with Zahra, her best friend. Zahra is always doing things that are exciting and potentially dangerous. Usually Anthem refuses to join Zahra, but she cannot bear the idea of going to yet another fundraising gala. She cannot stand the thought of spending the evening with Will, whom she likes well enough but certainly doesn’t love.

   Thus Anthem ends up at a party that changes her life. She meets a charming young man called Gavin who first rescues her when the party is raided, and then woes her in the days that follow. For the first time ever Anthem plays hooky from her ballet lessons, spending the afternoons with Gavin instead. Gavin is everything Will is not, and Anthem becomes the starry-eyed lovelorn girl she was sure she would never become.

   Then Anthem makes the decision to spend the night with Gavin, something she has refused to do with Will. The time at Gavin’s apartment is perfect until Anthem and Gavin are woken up in the early hours of the morning by the sounds of someone breaking in. Kidnappers take Gavin hostage and the leader, a girl, tells Anthem that they will only free Gavin if she pays them a ransom.

   Horrified by what she has experienced and terrified for Gavin, Anthem starts to run home. On the way she is waylaid by a homeless man, and then she is rescued by a young man who frightens Anthem so much that she accidentally falls off a bridge and plunges into the freezing water.

   When Anthem wakes up she is in the care of Jax, an illegal medical practitioner. The young man who saved her from the homeless man is there and he explains that he brought her to Jax, hoping that Jax could save Anthem. To her horror Anthem learns that she died, but because of hypothermia, Jax was able to install a mechanical heart in her chest and Anthem was brought back to life.

   When Anthem is back with her family she tells them all about Gavin and his kidnapping but she says nothing about her new heart. She knows that her family will not take such news well. Anthem fully expects her father to pay the ransom, but he doesn’t because he does not believe in giving in to terrorists. Anthem has no choice but to rescue Gavin herself and she starts down a road that will change her, and change the future of Bedlam.

   This extraordinary audiobook takes listeners to a version of New York where the gap between the haves and the have nots is enormous. Listeners will enjoy seeing how Anthem changes as the story unfolds, and how she takes on a role that she never in a million years imagined herself playing.