For hundreds of years, ever since overpopulation made life on land difficult, the Coral Kampii have made their home in the ocean. Following the inspiration and guidance of their ancestor and leader, Sarah Jennings, the people have relied on breathing shells to survive under water and have avoided contact with the Above World. Thirteen-year-old Aluna, like most citizens of the City of Shifting Tides, has never left the ocean. But, with her ceremony of transformation—when she and others her age will swallow the Ocean Seed, which will change her legs into a tail—a day away, she fears for the future of her people. For breathing shells are failing, and Kampii are dying. The Elders—of whom her father is one—are not interested in discovering why the technology is not operating properly. Aluna believes the answer lies in the marine nerve center, HydroTek. When it becomes clear that the Elders are playing ostrich, the teen leaves the ocean for the first time in her life. When Aluna reaches shore, she discovers a tragic scene: a burned-out village, devoid of life. Almost devoid of life, that is: for there she finds Hoku, her computer-savvy, mechanically-gifted friend, who has followed Aluna on her quest. Together, the two continue on their search. However, there are seemingly insurmountable obstacles. First are the Aviars, winged individuals who imprison Aluna and Hoku to make use of the youngsters’ talents. Only when the young people prove their integrity does the Aviar President set them free and become their ally. But the biggest challenge comes when Aluna and Hoku, with the assistance of some unexpected friends, finally reach HydroTek. While Hoku attempts to discover the reason for the breathing shells’ malfunction, Aluna receives a shocking revelation: one that casts a whole new light on much that she has always believed. Jenn Reese has written a blockbuster novel that grabs readers from the first page and doesn’t let go. Aluna is a feisty, likable heroine, and Hoku is a sensitive, intelligent boy. Their relationship is a credible one, a mixture of camaraderie and recognition of the other’s shortcomings. Characters, good and evil, are well-rounded and believable. One does not need to be a science-fiction fan to enjoy this tale. Anyone who likes stories about friendship and loyalty—and adventure-packed novels—will eat this one up. The open ending leaves the reader hopeful that a sequel is in the works. Kids are sure to want to read more about Aluna, Hoku, and their friends. 356 pages. Ages 11-14 Recommended by: Barbara Karp, Librarian, New York USA
Candlewick Press, 2012
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(Updated: March 10, 2012)
This is a great story and I am excited to know there is a sequel coming out. Perfect for the 5th grade and up set. Fast action, great characters.
Recommended by Barbara Fiehn, Kentucky, USA
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