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Underrunners by Margaret Mahy
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Underrunners (1992)

by Margaret Mahy

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Books written by authors from Australia and New Zealand really do have a different flavor to them. This was a bit of a mystery, a bit of coming-of-age, exciting and subtle at the same time. Based on the 1/2 doz. books I've read so far by her, Mahy deserves to be better known in the US. This one's probably best for ages 10-13 or so - it's a little more complex than, say, [b:The Five Sisters|47903|The Five Sisters (Puffin Chapters)|Margaret Mahy|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1170348844s/47903.jpg|1988519]. ( )
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Jun 6, 2016 |
Reread because I just couldn't remember it. Part of the problem is that the cover (of the one that I read) doesn't suit. This one is somewhat better - shows a bit of the idea that there's another layer of suspense, and of the inner lives of the children, that make the book much more intriguing than the story of two kids playing in the meadows/moors.

Another reason that I didn't remember it is because it has no cliches, no predictability. Have you ever met a dad who is a landscape artist before? Have you ever met a kid who has so many reasons to be dissatisfied and whiny, but still manages to have an easy-going and cheerful outlook? I haven't.

This was definitely worth the reread - and I will continue to read everything I can find by Mahy. ( )
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Jun 6, 2016 |
To my shame, I am a child of 80s New Zealand and this is the first Margaret Mahy novel I read. I don't think this is one of her better known works. The New Zealand-ness of it shone through. It was like a trip home, as well as back in time. My family owned a Triumph Herald for a time, too.

The relationships of the characters reminded me a little of Bridge to Terabithia, with the boy/girl friendship and I kept worrying that one of those underrunners was going to cave in. (But no -- this is a story with a different, less tragic kind of climax.)

Published in 1992, I wonder if Underrunners felt edgy for its time. Absent mothers, generally useless parents (though not all of them), imagination as escape from reality... I did meet Margaret Mahy at a 'Young Authors' Conference back in 1989, so I heard tales of her own imagination, which had always been (and continued to be) off the wall and a huge part of her life. So I found it interesting that the protagonist of this tale -- Tris -- is somehow 'redeemed' by the fact that as his life seems less treacherous his imaginary friend leaves him, as if the departure of imagination is a sign of mental balance. Though in the final sentence we learn that Tris may not have left his imaginary alter ego behind him: He has left 'for now'.

I wonder why Mahy chose to name the children's home so different from how it is supposed to be pronounced. (Fanshaw) Even as an adult reader, even reading in my head, I found it difficult to remember the pronuncation, and I figured there'd be some reason for it -- something metaphorical or otherwise symbolic -- perhaps it was there to help convey that things may appear one way but are actually quite another. Either way, I kept stumbling over it. ( )
  LynleyS | May 4, 2014 |
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To Paula - a wonderful reader
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As Tristram Catt and Sylvia Collins walked home from school, the driver of a yellow sports car, brighter than the soft autumn sunshine, braked sharply and slowed up beside them.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Tris and Winola find the underrunners, a vast network of tunnels, the ideal place to escape their unhappy lives and act out their fantasies, but the tunnels become a dangerous place when invaded by an unseen stranger.

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