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The Killing Sea Hardcover – December 5, 2006


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 760L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers; First Edition edition (December 5, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416911650
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416911654
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 6.3 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,751,420 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 6–10—Ruslan falls for Sarah when her family's sailboat docks in his Indonesian town for mechanical assistance, but Sarah, a self-absorbed American, fails to notice him. Both teens are then caught in the disastrous 2004 tsunami. Sarah makes it to safety, but her mother is killed and her father is missing, leaving her to care for her younger brother. Ruslan also survives and immediately begins to search for his father, who had left their coastal home before the storm. The two meet again, this time forging a relationship. The action never slows, though some dangerous encounters seem unnecessary. Other predicaments are resolved too easily. For example, when Sarah is stranded on an island without a knife, she conveniently finds a boat and machete. Too many conflicts-death, romance, Sarah's anger toward her mother, Ruslan's relationship with relatives who are rebel fighters-muddle the plot. To his credit, the author treats cultural differences with a gentle and honest touch. He also creates a vivid picture of the many horrors and challenges faced in the immediate aftermath of a large-scale natural disaster. Despite drawbacks, this book will appeal to fans of survival adventures like Gary Paulsen's Hatchet (Macmillan, 1986).—Jayne Damron, Farmington Community Library, MI
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Drawing from his own experience as a rescue worker, Lewis creates a powerful fictional tale of survival and cooperation in the wake of the 2004 tsunami that killed nearly a quarter of a million people and devastated much of the Southeast Asian coastline. Set on the western coast of Sumatra where the waves first hit land, the story centers on Ruslan, a local teenager searching corpse-strewn ruins for his father, and Sarah, a young American tourist desperately seeking medical help for her little brother. Falling in with a small group of other survivors, the three young people wander through shattered villages, seeing bodies dumped into hastily dug mass graves and people fired upon as suspected rebels, but also witnessing much kindness (except at the end, when, rescued at last, they are set upon by avid journalists and other Ugly Americans). Although many of Lewis' descriptions are horrifyingly vivid, Ruslan's resilience and Sarah's emotional numbness will give readers some shielding. An afterword is appended. John Peters
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

More About the Author

I was born, raised, and live in Indonesia. No tv as a kid, read lots of books. Wrote my first short story at 6 about a yawn that traveled around the world. University educated in the States; bailed out of a marine geology PhD program due to technical difficulties with my soul, which did not want to be shackled to a career.

Most of my creative time was subsequently spent searching the archipelago for surf, only writing now and again, major accomplishment being a 2nd place finish in one of the AsiaWeek's short story contests. Now I'm writing full time, and, to the horror of my old surfing buddies, take more pleasure in turning an original phrase than in getting tubed.

In addition to several e-zine and print publications, I've done well in several prestigious contests, which I mention because my 3rd place in the Writer's Digest 2001 Short Story Contest (the story was published in an anthology) led directly to me getting an agent. So if you are wondering whether contests are worth it or not, I certainly would say yes. Agents do keep an eye out.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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See all 26 customer reviews
Well written, and a fast paced story.
Lachula
We bought this book for our son for Christmas, but my wife and I both loved it, too.
S. Adams
This book kept me on my toes the whole time!
MacKenzie

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Ellen Meister on January 30, 2007
Format: Hardcover
So glad I'm not alone in giving this wonderful book 5 stars! It a small masterpiece.

Other reviewers have already done a great job of summarizing the plot, so I'll just say that this gripping young adult novel about the tsunami is so much more than a heart-thumping page-turner. It's about family, culture, religion, redemption, love and God. I'm eager for my children to read it, and recommend it to all adults, as well.

-Ellen Meister, author of Secret Confessions of the Applewood PTA
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Mary Akers on January 8, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I purchased The Killing Sea for my son but couldn't wait for him to get through a trilogy he is currently reading and so picked up The Killing Sea and read it myself. Am I glad I did! It's a wonderful read and a real page turner.

Two protagonists move through this story: Ruslan, a local Indonesian boy who works at a small beachside cafe in the town of Meulaboh; and Sarah, a teenager who is sailing with her family through the Indonesian islands over the Christmas holiday. The two meet briefly when Sarah's family anchors their sailboat near the cafe, searching for a mechanic to fix their engine. Ruslan (whose mechanic father ultimately fixes the engine) is captivated by Sarah's blue eyes. A budding artist, Ruslan returns home later that night and draws her in his sketchbook (against the teachings of a local cleric who deems any image-making to be a form of idolatry). At the cafe, Sarah barely registers Ruslan's existence before stalking off to the sailboat when her mother insists she don a headscarf out of respect for the local culture.

Lewis sensitively and deftly explores the notion of the spoiled American as we see Sarah undergo her own sea change after the tsunami rips her world apart. Both Ruslan and Sarah are left parentless: Ruslan, motherless since birth, cannot find his father after the tsunami; Sarah's parents disappear beneath the rising waters as they flee their stranded sailboat. She learns the fate of one shortly after the waters recede, the other she cannot find before she must embark on a search for a hospital for her younger brother who inhaled seawater and is having difficulty breathing.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By William R. Hamilton on January 22, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
More than any footage I saw, more than any news articles I read, this book made me feel what it was like to go through the great Indonesian tsumami with its devastating human cost. But this book is much more. It's also a high stakes adventure story.

Richard Lewis has taken an unimaginably immense, cataclysmic event and brought it down to the human scale, so that adult and young adult readers can feel the pain and witness the resourceful human spirit in action. This novel has no dull moments. From the momentous tsunami itself to the great labor of survival after it, he makes you identify with Sarah and the great change she goes through, lets you see this world clearly through the artist eyes of Ruslan, and has you care about their long and difficult journey. Sarah, the spoiled American teenager, like Kipling's rich boy in Captains Courageous, is forever changed and deepened by this tragedy in a world so foreign to her and to most American readers. Read it, then give it to a young person you care about. Neither of you will be disappointed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By sarah e san clemente on August 25, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
My daughter and I just finished this book from the recommended 5th grade summer reading list at her school. It is a gripping short story about a tsunami experience from just before the devastation to the aftermath of several days. It intertwined perspectives from two surviving teenagers in a very real and poignant tale. We highly recommend it!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Lachula on April 24, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This is a young adult novel and a story about the Tsunami that hit Indonesia in Dec 2004. The novel, based mainly on reports from survivors, follows A young American girl (Sarah) and her younger brother (Peter), his found cat (surf-cat) and a young Indonesia boy (Ruslan) who were all survivors of the Tsunami. Ruslan, the Indonesian boy is searching for his father, and the two Americans after having been separated from their parents are in search of medical attention for the younger brother. On their journey together, they meet and travel with other survivors and and see horrible sights as one can imagine. They are also there for each other, as a strong bond has formed. Well written, and a fast paced story. The author was born, and raised in the area and volunteered as an aid relief worker in the aftermath of the Tsunami.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Black Plum on July 4, 2012
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is a book about the diastrous tsunami in 2004 that struck Indonesia. Ruslan, and Indonesian boy and Sarah, an American girl, are brought together in the aftermath of the disaster. Ruslan is searching for his father and Sarah is trying to get medical treatment for her sick brother. Sarah had been on a vacation with her parents when the tsunami struck. Along with Surf Cat, a helpful and courageous feline, they navigate through the destruction, barely believing what they see. This is a really emotion-filled book. Normally, when you hear about disasters in far-away places, they don't really affect you that much other than a twinge of pity for "those poor people." This book put a human face on tragedy and made you really feel for the people killed and hurt by the tsunami. It was a short, but sweet book, which I really enjoyed reading, though the book was a bit depressing. It depicts these people dying who Ruslan knew, and heaps of corpses being unceremoniously buried.

*You can read all of my reviews at my book review blog, [...]
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