Borderliners A Novel

Peter Høeg




Trade Paperback

288 Pages


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From the author of Smilla's Sense of Snow comes a haunting story of childhood travail and hope. Strange things are happening at The Biehl School when this elite academy opens its doors to a group of orphans and reform school rejects, kids at the end of the system's tether. But the school is run by a peculiar set of rules, in which every minute is regimented and controlled. The children soon suspect that they are guinea pigs in a bizarre social experiment, and that their only hope of escape is to break through a dangerous threshold of time and space.


Praise for Borderliners

"After the astounding critical and popular success of his first book (Smilla's Sense of Snow), it wouldn't be entirely unexpected if Hoeg produced a less-successful sequel. But his second novel—a complete departure from Smilla—is even more brilliantly stunning than his first. Borderliners focuses on a 14-year-old orphan named, oddly, Peter Hoeg. Hoeg has been incarcerated in custodial institutions all of his young life, and he matter-of-factly recounts the cruelties of daily life that he has come to accept as normal . . . Hoeg's story reveals a harsh and grotesque world in which most of us could never survive. But it also suggests that there is hope—in the form of peace, if not happiness—for those like Peter who have been the victims of life. Disturbing, brilliant, and searing."—Emily Melton, Booklist

"In this extraordinary novel, Høeg portrays the closed world of Biehl's, a Danish private school where a bizarre social experiment is underway. The narrator, Peter, is now a student at Biehl's after spending all of his life in children's homes and reform schools. He is a borderline case, along with Katarina, whose parents both died in the past year, and August, severely disturbed after killing his abusive parents. Although allowed no social interaction, the children conspire to conduct their own experiment to discover what plan is being carried out at Biehl's. Høeg touches on some of the same themes as in his acclaimed Smilla's Sense of Snow—neglected children, scientific experiments, and technology—but this is not a thriller . . . It is instead a fascinating intellectual puzzle that explores the themes of social control, child assessment, family, and the concept of time. Highly recommended."—Patrica Ross, Westerville, Ohio, Library Journal

"In Hoeg's previous book, the thriller Smilla's Sense of Snow, the psychological insights and background detail were more gripping than the action scenes. Here, he has largely eschewed action and produced a story of psychological suspense in which the sense of menace is nearly palpable. This is a bleak, heartbreaking tale of gallant, desperately frightened children accepted on probation by an elite private school near Copenhagen. The narrator, Peter, was 14 when he arrived there, after anguished years in other institutions. Yet this school is even more frightening: both tyrannical mind control and physical violence are used to intimidate the students, in the name of scientific 'improvement.' Peter makes friends with two other 'borderliners,' the orphaned Katarina and August, a psychotic youngster who has repressed the fact that he killed his parents because they tortured and abused him. Together these damaged children strive to understand the goals of what they intuit as the school's 'grand plan.' They also have reason to inquire into the nature of time, for the traumas they have experienced have left them unsure of what constitutes reality. Hoeg succeeds brilliantly in conveying the fear of children who are helpless against brutal adult authority."Publishers Weekly

Reviews from Goodreads



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Peter Høeg, born in 1957 in Denmark, followed various callings--dancer, actor, sailor, fencer, and mountaineer--before turning seriously to writing. He is the bestselling author of five novels and one short story collection. His work has been published in thirty-three countries.
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  • Peter Høeg

  • Peter Høeg is the author of the international bestselling novel Smilla's Sense of Snow. Born in 1957 in Denmark, he followed various callings—dancer, actor, sailor, fencer, and mountaineer—before turning seriously to writing. His work has been published in thirty-three countries.

  • Peter Høeg Copyright Ulla Montan