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The Beast of Cretacea Hardcover – October 13, 2015
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From School Library Journal
Gr 6 Up—Earth is dying, and its people are starving. There are no more crops because there is no more rain. Oceans are a myth of the past. Humanity's only hope for survival is resource mining and colonization of distant planets—planets like Cretacea. Hoping to earn enough wages to pay for his foster family to leave Earth, young Ishmael enlists as a galley worker aboard a Cretacean fishing vessel called the Pequod. The crew of the Pequod works tirelessly to harpoon as many "humps" and terrafins as possible, hoping to bolster their wages at the end of the voyage. To the ship's captain, there is only one creature that matters: the elusive (and some say mythical) beast known as the Great Terrafin. The Captain vows to make a rich man out of any crewmember aboard who can spear it. What follows for Ishmael is a riveting tale that harkens back to the high-seas adventures of old, full of pirate encounters and other harrowing nautical perils. Strasser's pacing is flawless, and his characters well drawn. While Ishmael's true past is unveiled slowly, readers will find themselves drawn to his obvious bravery and loyalty from the very first page. Additionally, Strasser weaves futuristic technology into an old-fashioned maritime expedition seamlessly, resulting in a setting that feels timeless. Readers need not be familiar with Melville's Moby-Dick to enjoy Strasser's take on it, although those who are should be pleased with the faithful homages. VERDICT A must-read maritime adventure story for a new generation.—Liz Overberg, Zionsville Community High School, IN
Gr 6 Up- A riveting tale that harkens back to the high-seas adventures of old, full of pirate encounters and other harrowing nautical perils... Strasser weaves futuristic technology into an old-fashioned maritime expedition, resulting in a setting that feels timeless. ... VERDICT A must-read maritime adventure story for a new generation.-- Liz Overberg, SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL
Equal parts Moby-Dick retelling, environmental cautionary tale, and coming-of-age story, Strasser's fantastical SF epic blends disparate pieces into a harmonious whole. The saga begins with 17-year-old Ishmael setting off from a ravaged, dying Earth for life aboard a large fishing trawler on the planet Cretacea... Filled with luscious depictions of life at sea that harken back to the golden age of science fiction, Strasser weaves an engrossing tapestry that evokes a sense of wonder and calls to the imagination. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
You don't need to have read Moby-Dick to enjoy Strasser's science-fiction retelling. Ishmael wakes from stasis aboard the Pequod, on the pristine planet Cretacea, where he plans to earn enough to pay his foster parents' passage off of Earth. The bulk of the novel is an old-fashioned maritime adventure, filled with details of the sea life: close quarters, harpoon hunts, pirate attacks, storms, and shipwrecks. Strasser (Fallout, 2013) adds dystopian corporations, time travel, a secret legacy. Recommend to readers of pure adventure on the high seas. -- Krista Hutley, BOOKLIST
"The story rips along at a faultless pace, thrusting us into the middle of high-seas adventures... The characters are finely wrought, from Ishmael and his friends; to Charity, the Pequod's stasis tech; to Tarnmoor, the old blind sailor who survived Ahab's first encounter with the Giant Terrafin... Events careen toward a conclusion that must be read to be believed. No spoiler alerts here. Even readers who often predict a story's ending are very unlikely to guess all the components of this grand finale." - NEW YORK JOURNAL OF BOOKS
"A thrilling interplanetary adventure based on Herman Melville's classic story of revenge and madness, Moby Dick... 17-year-old Ishmael is amazed by Cretacea, the clean, beautiful planet on which he finds himself. He hopes to earn enough money to save his foster parents, before the foul air and lack of water back on the coal-burning, oxygen-depleted Earth kill them. High-tech gadgets, from drones to virtual reality goggles, add a modern twist to this apocalyptic adaptation, part political satire, part environmental cautionary tale." --Lynn Becker, Shelf Awareness
Strasser’s pacing is flawless, and his characters well drawn. While Ishmael’s true past is unveiled slowly, readers will find themselves drawn to his obvious bravery and loyalty from the very first page...A must-read maritime adventure story for a new generation.
—School Library Journal
Equal parts Moby-Dick retelling, environmental cautionary tale, and coming-of-age story, Strasser’s fantastical SF epic blends disparate pieces into a harmonious whole...Strasser weaves an engrossing tapestry that evokes a sense of wonder and calls to the imagination.
You don’t need to have read Moby-Dick to enjoy Strasser’s science-fiction retelling...Recommend to readers of pure adventure (with no romance!) on the high seas.
With The Beast of Cretacea, Todd Strasser (The Wave; Give a Boy a Gun; Fallout) crafts a thrilling interplanetary adventure based on Herman Melville's classic story of revenge and madness, Moby Dick...High-tech gadgets, from drones to virtual reality goggles, add a modern twist to this apocalyptic adaptation, part political satire, part environmental cautionary tale.
...a pure adventure core...
There’s a whole lot of book here: gripping descrip- tions of an Earth polluted beyond belief, time travel, long passages featuring gory sea battles, mystical island folk, and, of course, the overlaps with a very famous book...
—Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
Those who enjoyed Rives’ Across the Universe trilogy (Razorbill) will enjoy this new spin on saving planet Earth.
—School Library Connection
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Top Customer Reviews
In the midst of all the action, Strasser has crafted a plot that's also (unsurprisingly, given his other work) a sharp societal critique. He pointedly calls out the wealth-gap, using the phrase "Gilded" for the novel's 1%, evoking the late 19th century's era of Rockefellers, Astors, and Carnegies and the economic pattern we seem to be repeating today. From these societal ills he draws a direct line to environmental collapse, making no bones about just who will wind up the victims of the 6th extinction. It's pretty heavy stuff, and occasionally a bit heavy-handed, but then sci-fi has always been a conduit for commentary. If I have any beef, it's that I'm not sure I see how Strasser's themes mesh with Melville's, which makes the choice of Moby Dick as a vehicle for this message feel more random than it probably seemed to the author.
Strasser takes the most iconic bits of Melville and adapts them into a distinctly 21st century story full as full of passionate beliefs as of action and adventure. It's totally worth boarding the Pequod once more in pursuit of this new Beast.
The Beast of Cretacea is a thrilling read, overflowing with shocking twists and action on every page. Because of its countless plot twists, this novel is completely unpredictable and addicting to read. However, my favorite things about Strasser's work are the many themes, ranging from man's disrespect for nature to the destruction of greed, hidden within all of the excitement. Despite The Beast of Cretacea's incredible thrill and themes, it did have its flaws, including terrible grammatical mistakes and a few glaring plot holes.
The Beast of Cretacea is a wonderful read for teens in search of a page-turning adventure. I encourage you to dive into Strasser's novel and experience the excitement of escaping life on Earth for yourselves!
review by Isabella T., age 15, Memphis Mensa
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Cons: The ending was good BUT it didn't make a lot of sense and was kinda badly done.
Full Disclosure: Mr. Strasser was a student of mine at Beloit College, Beloit Wisconsin.Read more
Strasser’s Beast of Cretacea is one thrilling ride from start to finish.Read more
This book was incredible!