From School Library Journal
Grade 6–10—In this futuristic coming-of-age tale, 15-year-old Ty has spent his whole life in a deep-sea colony on the ocean floor. His family and the other pioneers provide fish and other food for the Commonwealth citizens who live aboveground in stacked cities following earthquakes and tsunamis that destroyed much of the Earth. The pioneers chafe under the harsh rule of the Commonwealth, a situation made worse when those who live subsea are charged with capturing a gang of pirates that has been terrorizing Commonwealth ships and pioneer homesteads. Ty is swept up in the hunt for the bandits when Gemma, a "Topsider" orphan, comes to his community to search for her missing brother, who may have ties to the pirates. First-time author Falls has created a riveting adventure story that action fans and reluctant readers will enjoy for its fast pace. Teens will like the budding romance between Ty and Gemma and the marvelous, imaginative depictions of life on the ocean floor. Minor characters, such as Ty's neighbors and younger sister, are fully fleshed out in their few short scenes. Although the identity of Gemma's brother and the subplot regarding his past with the pioneers' doctor are hastily explained and not completely satisfying, this is a small point that doesn't detract from the creative setting, adventurous plot, and likable teen heroes. Readers will cheer Ty on in his pursuit of the pirates and clamor for more tales of undersea life.—Leah J. Sparks, formerly at Bowie Public Library, MD
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Sixteen-year-old Ty, first child born to the pioneers who live in the depths of the ocean, has little patience for topsiders (land dwellers) until he meets feisty Gemma, who immediately enlists his help to locate her missing older brother. Their search is interrupted by pirate attacks of the notorious Seablite Gang and an ultimatum from the Commonwealth Government (located topside) that makes the pioneers responsible for stopping the raids. Ty and Gemma uncover connections between the pirates, illicit medical experiments, and Gemma's missing sibling, who happens to have secret supernatural gifts—like Ty. Although set in an undersea future, this rousing adventure has all the hallmarks of a western, including outlaws, homesteaders, and plenty of shoot-'em-up action (only with harpoonlike weapons). Good guys and bad guys are fairly obvious, as is the outcome, but the exotic setting and well-conceived details about undersea living, along with likable characters and a minor surprise at the end, will keep readers turning the pages. Try this with the ecofiction of David Klass. Grades 6-9. --Cindy Welch
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