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Publishers Weekly Review
First-time author Reese takes mermaids (and other mythological hybrid creatures) into postapocalyptic territory in a straightforward but exciting adventure. Aluna, a hotheaded 13-year-old Kampii who is just about to trade her legs for a tail in a coming-of-age ceremony, has discovered that the poorly understood mechanisms that support her isolated, underwater community are beginning to break down. Defying the Elders and accompanied by her loyal sidekick, technophilic Hoku, Aluna sets out to find HydroTek, the long-lost source of her people's technology. Aluna and Hoku are determined and resourceful protagonists, and the novel's hybrid species are fun and cleverly imagined (the birdlike Avians factor heavily into this installment); the Upgraders, who murder other post-humans for their body parts, are sadistic, one-dimensional monsters that owe a thing or two to the Borg of Star Trek. Action-seeking readers should enjoy the many revelations, twists, and hand-to-claw battle sequences, and fierce, take-charge Aluna is the kind of heroine who is easy to get behind. An open-ended conclusion leaves the door to Reese's futuristic world wide open for future adventures. Ages 10-up. Agent: Joe Monti, Barry Goldblatt Literary. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
School Library Journal Review
Gr 5-8-In Jenn Reese's science fiction novel (Candlewick, 2012), humans have created different colonies of altered humans to escape the threat of an epidemic. There are mermaids living underwater, equines inhabiting the desert, and aviators living in the sky as a result of genetic engineering. However, the technology that allowed humans to adapt is failing, and Aluna, a brave mermaid, and her friends set out to confront the mad scientist who created it. Although the premise is interesting, the story unwinds tediously, with a lot of effort spent explaining details that don't advance the plot or reveal much about the characters. For example, almost an entire chapter is devoted to Dash teaching Aluna how to build a fire, going into great detail about gathering kindling and using flint to start a spark. Girls will appreciate the hints of romance and the strong female characters, while male listeners will be disappointed in the scarcity of action and violence. Kate Rudd's narration fluctuates effortlessly between the serious tone of the situation and the chirpy attitude of the juvenile characters. Not a first purchase.-Cynthia Grabke, McCormack Middle School, Dorchester, MA (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Plunging directly into the action, this first book in the Above World series takes readers into the life of a girl named Aluna who lives beneath the ocean in the City of Shifting Tides. Centuries ago, warfare decimated the planet. Aided by technology that allowed them to breathe underwater, the Coral Kampii people fled the surface to build a new undersea home. When the breathing mechanisms begin to fail and Kampii start to die, 13-year-old Aluna is determined to figure out why. Aided by her geeky friend Hoku, Aluna sets off for the Above World, a perilous and marvelous new universe where they find humans with wings, a new way of life, and more questions than answers. Plucky and resourceful, if at times willful to her own detriment, Aluna is a heroine most readers will easily identify with as she explores a complex and challenging world on the cusp of change. With well-drawn characters, appropriate plot twists, and steady writing geared to the age level, this will appeal to those interested in dystopic science fiction.--Trevelyan, Julie Copyright 2010 Booklist
Horn Book Review
When the mermaid-like Kampii's breathing technology begins to fail, thirteen-year-old Aluna, an aspiring warrior, and her tech-savvy friend, Hoku, journey to the Above World to see if the other hybrid human cultures can help them save their people. The creative world-building, vivid descriptions of landscapes, and a diverse cast of sympathetic characters will please fans of post-apocalyptic fiction. (c) Copyright 2012. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Book Review
Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.