Sym, the main character in The White Darkness, is not your typical British teenager. For one thing, she is extremely knowledgeable about Antarctica. She is hearing-impaired, socially awkward and often teased by her classmates. She has inner conversations with Titus Oates, an explorer who died in Antarctica almost 100 years before. One day Sym is whisked away on a surprise trip to Antarctica by her Uncle Victor (not a blood relative, just a family friend). The whole situation is definitely a little bizarre, since apparently Victor did not have Sym’s mother’s permission. From that point on, the reader knows that things just aren’t right. Sym’s adventure picks up as they join up with a tour group on their way to Antarctica. Victor is convinced that there is a hole in Antarctica that leads to a hidden world inside the Earth.
The White Darkness was obviously very well researched with lots of facts and information about Antarctica and the history of exploration there thrown into the text. The book is wonderfully written but I didn’t fall 100% in love with it. Part of it could be that I found the book to be a bit long. The prose could have been trimmed a bit to make it a more enjoyable read. I also found Sym’s naivete to be a bit grating. The reader clues into the situation way before Sym ever does and I felt like smacking some sense into her.
The White Darkness was awarded the Michael L. Printz Award in 2008.