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Literature / The White Darkness

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A 2007 Young Adult novel by Geraldine McCaughrean. Winner of the Micheal L. Printz Award.
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Sym, an awkward British teenage girl lives with her eccentric uncle Victor, who stepped into her life to help her mother after her father died. To cope with the stresses of teenage life, Sym creates an Imaginary Friend based off of real life Antarctic explorer Lawrence "Titus" Oates, who provides a constant companion and a shoulder to lean on. When Victor, on a whim, takes her on a vacation to Antarctica, it is a dream come true for Sym.

However, Victor proves to have an ulterior motive. The vacation turns out to be an excuse to shanghai Sym and a couple other tourists on a treacherous exploration to find the entrance to the Hollow Earth. Trapped in the middle of nowhere, Sym and Titus have to survive the hostile land and her increasingly unstable uncle.

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Tropes associated with this work:

  • Broken Pedestal: Victor falls hard in Sym's eyes.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The missing satellite phone. Subverted, it doesn't help.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: Uncle Victor. To a lesser extent Sym, who has a lot of conversations in her head.
  • Conspiracy Theorist: Victor and his fellow explorers believe the hollow earth is being covered up.
  • Disappeared Dad: Uncle Victor replaced Sym's dad when he died.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: The real life Captain Oates killed himself to buy his team more time, which Sym admires in him.
  • Hollywood Mirage: The team thinks they see a magnificent city, but it turns out to be a mountain range distorted by the atmosphere, combined with their own delirium.
  • Meaningful Name: Sym is named after real life hollow earth theorist Symmes.
  • Never Speak Ill of the Dead: Sym can't bring herself to reveal everything that Victor did when she's rescued.
    • Titus lampshades this: "Death does wonders for one's reputation."
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  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Manfred and Sigurd drop their accents when their con is exposed.
  • Pit Trap: A section of the ice shelf is covered filled with crevasses covered with a thin layer of snow. To prevent the vehicle from falling in, the children are sent out in front to test the ground.
  • Slipping a Mickey: The entire camp of tourists is drugged so Victor can escape on his expedition. The safety of others is something he just doesn't care about.
  • The Svengali: Victor gets Sym interested in Antarctica to secretly train her for the expedition to help populate the inner earth.

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