Alternate Reality

The Hill bookcover
Karen Bass
Pajama Press


Description of Sales Url: 
Purchase from Pajama Press

In Karen Bass's The Hill,When the private plane Jared insisted on riding crashes, he is rescued by Kyle, a Cree boy who ought to be wearing a cape, given the circumstances. Jared is an unlikable spoiled rich kid flying from unlikable parent A to unlikable parent B. Jared is a city boy, completely unfamiliar with nature. Luckily for them both, Kyle is his polar opposite. Jared's refusal to listen to Kyle's advice forces them to climb the hill, a place forbidden by Kyle's Kokum (grandmother) and cross into the terrifying territory of legend, where they are stalked by the relentless Wihtiko, a virulently carnivorous creature out of the Cree spirit world.

All I can say is that this story works on many levels, and even if it is speculative fiction, has a ring of truth. Jared's journey occurs because he is forced out of his insular rich kid kingdom to a strange wild place where he must confront evil. He must rise to the challenge. If he gives in, he and Kyle will both die. We share his experience as he pushes past his boundaries, and struggles to survive.

I especially like how Karen Bass captures the voice and personalities of two boys who are polar opposites. Not only does the story show how they come together, it also shows how, in many ways, the boys are not as dissimilar as they believe. Jared has both of his parents, though he is essentially so apart from them he might as well be an orphan; and while Kyle has only his grandparents, he is so deeply steeped in his culture, he knows his place in the universe in a way few people do. The setting is rustic; the boys' relationship is dynamic; and the monstrosity hunting them is quite as terrifying as any creature out of a horror movie. Gripping story.