House of Stairs by William Sleator, is a novel about 5 teenage orphans(Oliver, Peter, Blossom, Lola, and Abigail) who find themselves in a strange building. Its not a hospital or a prison but it has no walls or ceiling, nothing but endless flights of stairs leading to nowhere and a strange red machine.
They begin to realize that the machine give them just enough food to keep them alive but only whenever they become to do certain gestures & acts. So they started make many efforts to please the machine and let it rule their behaviour. Initially they have to perform some kind of dance but soon they realize they have to be cruel to each other in order get any more food. Then teenage continually face hopeless situations, creating suspense. What follows is- set of events highlighting adversity they face and brings out their personalities—strengths and vulnerabilities.
While teenagers find themselves in an enigmatic suitations and place, narrative is not the enigma but the story is about these five characters, their weaknesses and strengths, their reactions to stress and about the relationships they develop.
Book is very well written and very interestingly highlights the conflict of society's rewards for conformity and personal satisfaction of asserting one's individuality.