Holyoke, P. (2015). The Neptune Challenge. Los Angeles: Disney-Hyperion.
Middle Grade / Dystopian / Action
I give this book 5 of 5 stars
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Author's Synopsis (from website)
Genetically engineered to survive in the ocean, Nere and her friends are recovering from their long, treacherous journey to refuge and settling in at Safety Harbor. Despite its name, plenty of dangers still lurk just outside the colony's boundaries. When two among them are kidnapped, the remaining Neptune kids and their loyal dolphins must set out on a mission even more perilous than their first: infiltrate the kidnapper's fortress to save their friends and steal away a vital scientific secret that may save the world and its oceans. Fighting terrifying mutated creatures and teens, will the Neptune kids find a way to save their friends, themselves, and their underwater world? The stakes couldn't be higher in this thrilling sequel to the award-winning The Neptune Project.
In the first book of this series, The Neptune Project, (click for synopsis & review), we meet main character Nere, and a group of her friends who have been bio-engineered to live underwater and must trek through a thousand miles of ocean to get to Safety Harbor. The Neptune Challenge picks up right where Project leaves off, and it hits the ground running.
Author Polly Holyoke has ramped up the pace and the story is action packed and has some real nail-biting and harrowing scenes. Readers can expect to find some raw, savage fights and a fairly high body count, and there are some truly despicable, horrifying characters to be found not just in the mutates, but in humans as well. Holyoke does a fabulous job with her characterization, and readers will loathe more than a few of the characters. Wasp, who was briefly introduced in the first book, is particularly well done, and one of the most memorable villains I've read in a while. And of course, there are the lovable, dependable, essential dolphins, who really round out the story.
Though the book is violent and people are harsh, Holyoke always balances the bad with subtle messages that reinforce the values of commitment, trust, honesty, and doing the right thing. Readers will find that the characters and their actions feel authentic in the situations that arise - and the situations that arise are intense! Holyoke has created a plot line that is incredibly interesting and fills it with a series of events that will tug on readers' heartstrings, spike their anger, and prey on their fears. (Direct hit for me since I might have a thing about sharks.) The underwater world descriptions are vivid and amazing, and it's clear Holyoke has done her homework to make accurate scenes.
Even though references to the prior book are summarized, I definitely think readers need to read the first book to fully enjoy this one. The background is important, as are the details of some of the things that happened in book one. The ending is more than satisfactory, but it does leave room for another book in the series -- and I'm hoping Polly Holyoke decides to write it!
This book is a solid middle grade book and sensitive readers need to know that there is violence, blood, and some gore, and victims are both humans and animals. There are also some pretty intense, even scary scenes that could be a little haunting. There is no bad language or sex and only very mild references to kids having crushes.
Thank you to the author and Lone Star Literary Life for giving me a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review -- the only kind I give.
signed copy & dolphin necklace and earring set!
Want another chance to win the necklace and book? Jump over to The Page Unbound where another review is posted and a giveaway is happening!
About the Author: Polly Holyoke is a former teacher and loves reading, camping, skiing, scuba diving, and hiking in the desert. She lives in Plano, TX with three rescue dogs, two spoiled cats, and a nice husband who tolerates piles of books all over their house. Her debut middle grade novel, The Neptune Project, was selected to the 2014-15 Texas Bluebonnet Master List along with state reading lists in Maryland and Ohio. Her second novel, The Neptune Challenge, was released by Disney/Hyperion in May.
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