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Daughter of the Deep by Rick Riordan

Under the sea, there’s a secret that’s been lying dormant for one hundred and fifty years… And it means that Ana’s life will never be the same again…

Ana Dakkar is a fourteen year old at the prestigious Harding Pencroft Academy. That is, until it is completely obliterated by their rival school, the Land Institute, while she and her fellow freshmen are off campus. The blast kills Ana’s brother, fellow students, teachers, and catapults her world in a direction she hadn’t expected – let alone believed possible. She finds out that her Academy, a world-class training centre for sea explorers and experts, has secrets the world can never know about, incredible technologies that could change the course of human history if they aren’t protected. What is more, because of her direct descent from the genius or madman – depending on which way you look at things – who created these technologies, she might just be the only one left alive who can use them. It might really help if the only adult who escaped with them hadn’t just become comatose with advanced pancreatic cancer. Hmmm… a group of teenagers left to save the world? If that sounds like your kind of thing, keep reading!

Based on Jules Verne’s Victorian classic 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Rick Riordan’s Daughter of the Deep is a brilliant and vivid reimagining of the story of Captain Nemo, Prince Dakkar, fast forward into the present. Fans of Percy Jackson will find the same thrilling action and humour Riordan’s readers love, but Daughter of the Deep is a different, and refreshing world. Ana is a strong, believable character with her own relatable self-doubts, but also the enviable ability to speak multiple languages. Harding-Pencroft is divided into houses, and Ana is a Dolphin, explaining her finesse at communicating. By the end of the book, Ana finds herself up against unexpected enemies, and while there’s plenty of bang bang action, in the end, the enemy whose actions have affected Ana the most cannot be defeated by simple force, requiring her to face the challenges in other ways.

The diverse and quirky supporting characters in this young adult’s novel are great. Ana’s friends Ester and Nelinha, her classmate-turned-bodyguard Gem, a baking orangutan, and more, enliven the story. Some of the book’s greatest – by this I mean most humorous – moments come from school traditions that see them dressing captured enemies up in inflatable duck arm rings, the worst possible humiliation and punishment devisable. One thing that bugged me was Ana’s tendency to go diving in a bikini, apparently to show her as hardy and impervious to the cold – however, as any and every girl who has ever swam in the sea (let alone dived into it) knows, bikinis and waves do not mix, it’s a terrible idea, and best left to instagrammers and those who want to spend the whole time holding their bottoms up and their tops down. But such minor grumbles aside, this really is a book every young adult should read, and be carried away by… Riordan’s subtle messages about human’s destructive tendencies, and the need to preserve nature’s beauty instead of giving into human greed, are an added bonus.

Reviewer: Susannah Lyon-Whaley



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