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BENEATH is one of those books that you want to inhale in just a few sittings --- which is exactly what I did.BENEATH has intrigue, mystery and suspense, plus an adventure that takes place thousands of feet under New York City.

Pat O’Toole’s older brother, Coop, is unique. He has never really been interested in what everyone else is interested in, yet he draws people to himself like moths to a light. One of Coop’s primary interests, besides tap dancing, is digging tunnels. Pat and Coop are close, but things change after Pat’s life is jeopardized during one of Coop’s tunnel-digging adventures. Coop’s relationship with his parents has never been great and after a huge fight, he runs away. Pat misses him terribly and is pleased that after Coop has been gone for a year, he finally hears from him in the form of audiorecordings. The brothers begin communicating back and forth via recordings and Pat gets a sense of what Coop has been up to.

BENEATH is one of those books that you want to inhale in just a few sittings --- which is exactly what I did.

When the messages from Coop abruptly stop, Pat is determined to find out what happened to his brother. He pieces together clues in Coop’s messages and ends up in New York City alone, looking for his brother. He quickly discovers that Coop has joined the Community that lives underground. Based on Coop’s interests this is not too surprising, but when Pat worms his way into the Community, he learns that Coop is no longer there. Coop has decided to venture into the Deep, which, according to the Community, is a life threatening prospect. Pat must decide how far he is willing to go in order to find his brother and bring him home. Can he face his claustrophobia? Can he venture where few have gone before? Is reuniting with his brother worth it?

It is difficult to classify BENEATH’s genre, as there are definitely elements of contemporary realistic fiction, fantasy and dystopia. Although there are some underpinnings of a dystopia, it is completely different than the rash of other current dystopias. I believe that Smith leaves the ending of BENEATH open for a sequel, and if there is one, I will be eager to read it!

Reviewed by Aimee Rogers on February 13, 2015

by Roland Smith