Six Months in Hades

This book is a 2006 Cybil Award Nominee for YA Fiction.

Hilly and her brother Ivan are whip-smart, homeschooled kids who have always been close. They share a secret language and their own world which even their parents cannot penetrate. Pilot to Copilot, Ivan is in charge, and Hilly follows. He’s the bright sun in the family, and even his parents Ada and Marshall follow his lead, as he explains Hilly to them, and drags her off on various adventures.

Hilly and Ivan aren’t exactly the same, though, not really, and they never have been in Hilly’s mind. Ivan is smart enough to have recreated himself — from being just-any-old-run-of-the-mill- Jeffrey, he has become Ivan the strong, smooth and invulnerable. He is smart — smarter than everyone and when he can’t be smarter — when his stories don’t turn out as well as Hilly’s, for instance — he leaps onto something else. She’s the writer, after all. He’s got more interesting things to do. Ivan is cocky and pleased with himself; smug, jaded, and ultimately bored and vicious. Hilly has betrayed him, he thinks. First she’s gone to the public school to be on the paper staff — a stupid little rag reporting basically nothing. Secondly, when a friend from school jumps off of a roof, she goes into a tailspin that Ivan feels is utterly unnecessary. I mean, come on, right? It was just a pathetic girl from public school. She couldn’t have been as smart as Hilly — or Ivan, obviously. Why can’t Hilly get over it and pay attention to him again? Ivan needs Hilly to lighten up already.

Ivan’s shallow control issues find a match when he moves Hilly out of one therapist’s path into another one. Only this time, Ivan’s met his equal. Dr. Roland isn’t just a good psychologist. He’s a great one. He’s amazing. And he’s out to let both Hilly and Ivan know. But Hilly doesn’t trust him, not from the first second, and she’s scared. She won’t talk, and now Ivan’s lost all patience. He only meant to help Hilly, really. He doesn’t mean anything by it when he steals her journal for the doctor to publish. He’s only getting back at her, he thinks, for being a complete drag, and raining on his parade. She just needs to realize she’s the co-pilot again, that’s all. It’s Ivan and Hilly — forever. Nothing should have come between them, nothing. Pilot to Copilot forever, right?

Going Under is a taut and foreboding novel using classical Greek myths in this modern and fast-paced setting. Because no concrete reasoning is given for the creepy and unethical actions of the psychologist, the novel is especially disturbing — it seems that the siblings were targeted simply because they could be, which brings up some disturbing questions on what readers are meant to take away on the subject of therapy. Still, the trapped, paranoid feel of the alternating narration paints a arresting picture that speaks of betrayal, love, and independence in an interesting way.

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