The Boxes

Book review by
Matt Berman, Common Sense Media
The Boxes Book Poster Image
Creepy creature tale will keep kids interested.

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 3 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages

The adults in the story are either clueless or mean. Anne disobeys her Uncle.


The children are threatened, two people are injured by tendrils from the clock, several of the creatures are killed rather gruesomely.


A boyfriend and girlfriend meet secretly.


Not an issue.


Not an issue.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Aunt Ruth smokes.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that an army of crab-like creatures scuttles through this creepy science-fiction tale that has the potential to rattle younger readers. The cliffhanger ending might prove disappointing, too.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byGolan Trevize October 28, 2011

Science Fiction Insights

Uses a theme from many science fiction books: that human friends of supernatural creatures are responsible for those creatures, and that they must be loyal to t... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written byAction reader August 6, 2012


Needs to be made into a movie
Teen, 14 years old Written byblink98 September 10, 2010
loved it it kept me on my feet wondering how it was going to end but the middle was great but the end was a spuff.Every body of all ages would love this book if... Continue reading

What's the story?

In this modern Pandora story, Annie's mysterious Uncle Marco has left two boxes in her care, with specific instructions not to open them, put them near each other, or tell anyone about them. Soon, of course, she is driven by curiosity to open one, releasing an insectlike creature the size of a guinea pig, which multiplies rapidly, communicates telepathically, builds incessantly, worships the time-controlling device in the other box, and wants Anne to be its "nervous system."

As the creatures build a mysterious structure in the basement, unscrupulous developers discover Anne's secret and will stop at nothing to possess a device which can slow down time. But neither they nor Anne have understood how the device really works.

Is it any good?

Experienced readers will appreciate the author's talent at keeping things unpredictable. In fact, one group of 10 year olds, usually adept at anticipating the twists and turns of stories, came nowhere close in their efforts to predict where this was going and were thrilled when the author finally telegraphed the next step. With rapid pacing and an ending that demands a sequel, this should keep middle-schoolers turning the pages.

William Sleator has long been a sort of cult favorite among the 10 to 14 set, writing edgy chillers with surprising endings, such as Interstellar Pig and Singularity. This book, based on the Greek myth of Pandora, is one of his milder stories but is still exciting and creepy enough to keep most upper-elementary kids on the edges of their seats.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the original Greek myth that likely inspired this story: Pandora and her infamous box. How is Annie's plight similar to Pandora's? How is it different? Have you ever received strict instructions not to do something -- and did it anyway? What were the consequences of your actions?

Book details

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