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Downsiders by Neal Shusterman
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Downsiders (1999)

by Neal Shusterman

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terrific book about a society hidden underneath New York City, with its own rules and culture, and how a girl from the "Topside" meets a boy who's a Downsider and together they get into all sorts of adventures. ( )
  GoldieBug | Mar 26, 2019 |
I have had this book on my shelf to read for years. I really enjoyed Shusterman’s Skinjacker trilogy and had picked up some of his older books to read. This was an okay read, it reminded a bit of a young adult version of Gaiman’s Neverwhere...but not as magical.

Talon lives under the streets of New York’s city in a secret community called Downsiders. Lindsey is forced to move to New York City to live with her dad, who is working on a project to create a new aqueduct for the city. Lindsey is lonely and incredibly curious when she spies a boy, Talon, down in the sewers. Talon and Lindsey meet and Talon breaks the greatest rule of Downsider society...he reveals their existence to Lindsey. Now Talon faces a sentence of death but as Lindsey’s dad breeches part of the Downsiders territory bigger problems face New York City.

This book was well written and engaging. It’s a pretty straight-forward and simple story. I enjoy the idea of a secret society under the streets of New York City, as I mentioned is reminded a bit of a simpler, less magical, young adult version of Gaiman’s Neverwhere.

Talon and Lindsey are both well done characters. They are each driven by fairly simple motives. Talon is eternally curious and wants to be part of the world above. Lindsey is lonely and looking for a mystery to solve. They are fairly simple but engaging characters and younger readers should be able to easily relate to them.

I loved the mystery behind why and when the society of Downsiders was formed, this was probably the most interesting part of the book. There are some good lessons in here about friendship and community. I do think the idea of secret societies forming underneath cities and the surface of the Earth in general has been a bit overdone, so it’s not all that creative...still Shusterman does a good job with this.

Overall a good book. It’s a pretty simple story with simple yet engaging characters. I enjoyed the mystery of how Downside came into existence and loved the idea of a city underneath New York City. The whole book was a bit too simplistic for me to absolutely love, but I think younger readers will find the ideas here intriguing and enjoy it even more than I did. ( )
  krau0098 | Feb 28, 2014 |
Talon lives Downside, underneath New York City. When he accidentally meets Lindsay, a Topsider from above ground, their worlds inevitably collide.
  KilmerMSLibrary | Apr 30, 2013 |
Lindsay moves into a New York brownstone with her engineer father and rotten stepbrother Todd after her mother takes off. By accident, Lindsay discovers Talon, a teenage boy who lives in a secret underground city called the Downside. Lindsay's father's massive construction project threatens to reveal the existence of the Downside, and Lindsay and Talon have to try to save the Downside. This is a fun, urban legend kind of story (yes, the alligators in the sewers story shows up along with a lot of other urban legends), but its strength is showing how the culture we grow up in often decides for us how we see others who are different ... and how valuable it is to be able to see beyond that. ( )
  KarenBall | Sep 23, 2011 |
This book ignited my love of subways, things hidden below, and underground communities (although my favorite book in this sub-genre (ha) is Gaiman's Neverwhere). I wish Shusterman included some references about Beach at the end; the connection between the story and reality is what most fascinated me the first time I read Downsiders. (Yay for the upcoming sequel!)
  Sarahsponda | Mar 5, 2011 |
Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
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Cities are never random.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0689839693, Mass Market Paperback)

Meticulous 14-year-old Lindsay isn't exactly thrilled about moving to the chaos that she believes is New York City. Her flighty "career college student" mom, now divorced, has dumped her on her city engineer dad, "a man who lived his life twenty minutes behind schedule and in a perpetual state of apology." Lindsay is certain that nothing better awaits her than prep school boredom and constant battles with her evil stepbrother Todd. But she is wrong. Quite by accident, Lindsay discovers an unusual boy named Talon who resides in a secret city beneath New York--a kind of underground Oz called the Downside. Talon and Lindsey are fascinated by the differences in their dual worlds and soon grow equally fascinated with each other. But when Lindsay's dad's construction project hits a snag that reveals the Downside, it is not only the blooming relationship that hangs in the balance, but the entire future of the Downside as well.

Downsiders is both funny and compelling. But while Lindsay and Talon's observations of their distinct environments is humorous (Talon compares Lindsay's French braid to a "gator's tail" and, despite Talon's explanation that "time is of low importance," Lindsay still thinks it's strange that Talon wears his watch around his ankle), Neal Shusterman also uses their relationship to illustrate how much a particular culture both shapes our identity and affects how we view people from backgrounds other than our own. This call to look beneath the surface is cleverly and subtly woven through an original story with broad appeal. (Ages 10 to 16) --Jennifer Hubert

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:18 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

When fourteen-year-old Lindsay meets Talon and discovers the Downsiders world which had evolved from the subway built in New York in 1867 by Alfred Ely Beach, she and her new friend experience the clash of their two cultures.

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