Review: Going Underground by Susan Vaught



Title: Going Underground

Author: Susan Vaught

Published: Bloomsbury ANZ October 2012

Synopsis: Del’s not a bad guy. He’s just a misunderstood criminal. Seventeen-year-old Del is a good kid, but one mimro mistake three years ago was all it took to turn him into a social outcast. Now, with a criminal record, the only job he can get is digging graves-not exactly your typical after-school gig. But it’s in the graveyard that Del meets the beautiful yet sad Livia, who doesn’t know anything about him. She gives him reason to be hopeful again. Except that Del’s crush comes with a sea of complications and he’s not sure he is ready to reveal his past. Will the truth set him free..or will it dig him in even deeper?

Status: Read on October 15, 2012 — I own a copy {Courtesy BloomsburyANZ}

My Thoughts:

Going Underground is a provocative, topical and thought provoking novel exploring the issue of sexting and it’s repercussions for one young man. Fourteen year old Del was popular, athletic and planning a career in medicine or law, until the exchange of risque texts with his girlfriend, Cory, blew his world apart. Now a few months shy of his eighteenth birthday, his dreams in tatters, Del is waiting for a chance to reclaim his life.

While media cases have focused on instances where an explicit image went viral, Going Underground approaches the issue from a slightly different angle. Del was 14, Cory a few months younger at 13, when the single explicit photo they took shared only with each other, was discovered after their mobile phones were confiscated during a school camp. However Del was targeted by a self righteous DA whose claims of moral outrage resulted in felony convictions for the dissemination of child pornography and child rape, despite the pair never actually indulging in sexual intercourse.

Going Underground explores how the circumstances have affected Del’s life. After being arrested, charged, convicted and serving time in juvenile detention, he was eventually allowed to return to ordinary life but required to attend therapy and remain on probation with strict regulations, until his eighteenth birthday. More damaging however is his lifetime registration as a sex offender, something Del is required to disclose when applying for employment or college and which severely curtails his future plans. With great sensitivity, Vaught explores the simmering emotions beneath Del’s facade of resigned acceptance of his fate. While Del has scrupulously adhered to everything asked of him as the end of his schooling approaches, he silently despairs of ever having a future. It is Livia, a girl he meets in the graveyard in which he works, that prompts him to finally acknowledge the anger and fear which has kept him as bound as the terms of his probation.

The serious issues at the heart of this novel are balanced by flashes of humour and light-hearted moments. And while some circumstances may be simplified, the characters, especially Del, are realistically portrayed. I really liked Marvin’s character, whose own conflicts are subtly explored and Fred, Del’s African Grey parrot has a real presence in the book.

A story suitable for both teens and their parents, Going Underground is well written novel, sensitively exploring a controversial issue. I think it is both entertaining and thoughtful, and a srong contemporary young adult novel.


Available To Purchase

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5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. therelentlessreader
    Oct 18, 2012 @ 13:29:34

    This sounds like a timely and important read. Thanks for the review!



  2. Michael @ Literary Exploration
    Oct 18, 2012 @ 14:00:54

    This sounds like a book I would read, I might have to track down a copy



  3. Nicola
    Oct 19, 2012 @ 01:51:17

    Great review! I have this on my tbr list.



  4. melliane
    Oct 20, 2012 @ 07:10:56

    I didn’t know this one and with this kind of cover I would have expected something different I think. Thanks for the discovery!



  5. Stephanie @ Read in a Single Sitting
    Oct 20, 2012 @ 18:43:36

    What an interesting sounding read, and very timely as well.



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