From School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-Timothy Murphy still hasn't recovered from his mother's death when his dad announces that they will be spending the day with his new girlfriend and her daughter, Jessamyn Hazard, who attends the same school as Timothy. He is not looking forward to a day of sailing and having to share his father's attention. When his dad and Miranda make a stop for egg creams, the middle schoolers decide to play a prank on their parents and unhook the boat trailer from the car, thinking the worst that would happen would be that their parents would pull away without them. Instead the trailer and boat take off down a hill and the two kids go careening across Manhattan and end up falling into a gaping construction hole. Timothy and Jessamyn find themselves floating on the sailboat in the city's storm sewer. They decide to evade the rescue team as long as they can, leading to trouble as they meet the cast of characters that dwell in "Undertown." Not knowing whom to trust, they learn to think on their feet in order to escape Undertown's evil ruler. The action goes back and forth between what is going on aboveground, where the adults are in rescue mode, and belowground. While the story starts out as a great adventure, the action underground may be predictable for older readers. However, the suspense is enough to hold the interest of younger ones, who will wonder if Timothy and Jessamyn will be captured and enslaved or rescued.-Karen Alexander, Lake Fenton High School, Linden, MIα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
This classic hero’s journey is set against the detailed backdrop of New York City, both above ground and below. Timothy and Jessamyn are reluctantly thrown together on a sailing trip with their romantically involved single parents. Alarmed at the thought that the other’s parent might replace the missing one in their lives, the young teens concoct a plan to get back at the adults. But when they instead end up sliding beneath Manhattan into the vast New York sewer system, Timothy and Jessamyn must hang on for the ride of their lives. Navigating their small boat—called, naturally, the X-tra Large—they encounter giant rats, eccentric underground dwellers (such as a graffiti artist named DUO and the deceptively small yet dangerous Malomi), and their own fears. Bukiet’s first children’s outing veers between language carefully designed to appeal to its intended audience and occasionally sophisticated sentence structure and subjects that should instead engage far older readers. Dramatic and imaginative, this will probably most appeal to readers with a taste for the esoteric. Grades 6-8. --Julie Trevelyan