Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Race to the Bottom of the Sea

Race to the Bottom of the Sea. Lindsay Eagar. 2017. Candlewick Press. 432 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: The recipe in Fidelia Quail's observation book was for chum, and at eleven years old, she could recite it by heart.

Premise/plot: Love orphan stories? Love sharks? Love pirates? Love adventure stories? Love non-traditional narratives that jump back and forth in time? Love unhappy endings? Then have I got a book for you: Lindsay Eagar's Race to the Bottom of the Sea. Fidelia Quail is a clever, inventive eleven year old who is kidnapped by pirates just a few weeks after her parents death. Fun times, right? Merrick the Monstrous is on a mission--a quest. He only has a few weeks to live and he needs help reclaiming his greatest treasure--which is at the bottom of the sea. Can he force Fidelia to help him? Will Fidelia figure out how to make her water-eater work so she can breathe under water and dive to the bottom of the sea?

My thoughts: I don't love orphan stories, sharks, pirates, adventure stories, or narratives that jump back and forth in time. The fact that this book is ALL of those things at once didn't work in its favor. I loved Eagar's Hour of the Bees so my expectations were high--too high. I do think for the right reader this one could definitely work.

One problem I had with this one is establishing the world it was in. Was it a fantasy novel with made-up lands and seas, countries and nations? Was it set in the real world? And if so what time period? Whether it was set in a fantasy world or the real world--I had trouble "placing it" in terms of development. Fidelia comes from a science-loving, inventive family. And Fidelia herself made a submarine for her family to use. Her other project is a water-eater which would allow her to breathe under water if she could find a way to filter sea water into breathable oxygen. The diving equipment her family uses seems homemade. Their research however is funded by grants. There were elements that led me to think it was modern, and elements that made me think it wasn't. I spent almost all of the novel confused about very basic things.  

© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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