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Book Review: Rip Tide by Kat Falls (Series, #2) (Audiobook narrated by Keith Nobbs)

Green background with a radar over it and the shadow of a person swimming with per arm extended.Summary:
Ty lives with his pioneer family subsea but he can’t convince his crush Gemma to leave Topside.  Why is she so afraid of subsea?  This was his biggest problem until his parents get kidnapped by surfs when they attempt to do a trade.  Plus, Gemma wants to convince her fugitive brother to let her tag along with him.  And townships keep disappearing, only to turn up later, chained up and anchored subsea with everyone dead inside.  It’s a giant web of mysteries but do they intertwine at all?

Review:
I absolutely loved the first entry in this scifi series, which is unusual for me, since it’s YA.  Not generally my genre.  So I was excited to see the sequel available on Audible.  It’s still an exciting adventure and interesting world but not quite as tightly and expertly constructed as last time.

Whereas Ty’s voice worked perfectly in the first book, in this one he reads a bit young.  He went through a lot in the first entry, he should have presumably matured a bit more than he has.  Similarly, Gemma hasn’t developed much since the first book either.  I think these characters should have been given more space to grow more.  Particularly in a YA series, it’s important to let the characters develop and mature at a more rapid rate.  That’s the reality for teenagers after all.

Plot-wise, I honestly felt that there was a bit of a deus ex machina at work that also didn’t fully play into the rules of the world as originally set up.  Still, though, the mystery is well-plotted and difficult to predict.  It includes real danger without being too violent.  It’s the perfect level of thriller for a YA reader who’s not so into the gore.  On the other hand, I also found it frustrating that Ty’s parents aren’t around for most of the book.  One of the things refreshing about the first one was that his parents were actually present and helpful without being too pushy or overshadowing.  This time around, Falls went the more popular YA adventure route and just flat-out got rid of them for most of the book.

But the world Falls has built is still rich and unique, and she expanded upon it.  We now get to see more of what the surf life is like, in addition to more of the shady side of things, such as the boxing/fighting rings.  We also see some more of the government and law enforcement and have a better understanding of the world as a whole.  It’s all richly imagined and drawn, right down to what styles of clothes different groups wear to what they eat.  One detail I particularly enjoyed was that the surfs, a poor outcast lot, eat a lot of fish and blubber because it’s easy to catch, whereas Ty’s family eats a lot of vegetables because they grow them.  Details like that really make a world.

The audiobook narrator, Keith Nobbs, read the whole thing a bit flat for my taste.  He didn’t have as much enthusiasm and inflection as I thought was appropriate for a book about a subsea adventure starring two young teenagers!  The production quality was high, he was easy to understand, but he didn’t really bring Ty to life.  I’d recommend reading the print book over the audio, honestly.

Overall, then, the characters are a bit slow in their development and the plot feels a bit lazier than last time, but the characters are still well-rounded and the plot maintains an appropriate level of mystery.  Toss in the richly imagined and describe post-apocalyptic and very wet world, and it’s well worth the read.

4 out of 5 stars

Source: Audible

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Previous Books in Series:
Dark Life, review

Book Review: Dark Life by Kat Falls (Series, #1) (Bottom of TBR Pile Challenge)

January 12, 2012 11 comments

Glowing jellyfish against blue background.Summary:
Ty was the first person born subsea.  His family are settlers on the bottom of the ocean, a new venture after global warming caused the Rising of the seas.  Ty loves his life subsea and hates Topside.  One day while adventuring around in the dark level of subsea, he stumbles upon a submarine and a Topside girl looking for her long-lost older brother.  Helping her challenges everything Ty believes in.

Review:
This is one of those rare YA books that gives me renewed hope for the genre.  There are no stupid love triangles. The adults are intelligent and good parents.  There are bigger worries than who you’re taking to prom.  There’s adventure but no gratuitous violence.  Romance but in a healthy way.  Basically, it’s everything you’d hope for in a YA book.  I’d gladly hand this to any teen or preteen looking for a good read and feel happy in doing so too.

The post-apocalyptic setting is unique, intelligent, well thought-out, and supported by science.  Creating a new American frontier under the ocean is delightful, and Falls draws on the American pioneer experience in cute, tongue-in-cheek ways.  For instance, the settler kids call their parents “Ma” and “Pa.”  They earn their acres by successfully farming them for 5 years (a common time-frame in the old west).  Plus, the world is different beyond subsea as well, reflecting drastic changes that would occur with such a huge change in the world.  There are people called “floaters” who live in houseboats.  Those who still live on land live in huge skyscrapers, and everyone sends their kids to boarding schools.  Perhaps most interestingly is the fact that ever since the falling of the land into the ocean the US has been under “emergency law.”  A harrowing possibility to any astute YA reader today.

Ty and Gemma are adventurous and intelligent yet still flawed in their own ways.  Gemma can be too impulsive, Ty too cautious.  This is naturally part of what makes them a good potential couple.  They balance each other.  Similarly, Ty’s parents are smart and caring, yet still capable of being wrong sometimes, even though well-intentioned.  They’re an example of the type of parent we hope most kids will have.  In contrast, Gemma is an orphan with an evil boarding school mistress to provide an adult for kid to hate.

The plot is deliciously complex and for once I actually did not guess the ending.  It left me surprised and happy simultaneously.  Falls does not take the easy way, but she also doesn’t use any lame deus ex machinas.

I feel my review is not doing this book justice.  Suffice to say it is a richly complex world she has created, filled with characters that are worthy of being looked up to but with interesting scifi elements to keep the interest level high.  I found myself never wanting to leave the subsea world and sort of wishing living subsea was an option in real life.

Overall, I recommend this to fans of YA scifi, but also to anyone with a curiosity about what it might be like to live on the bottom of the ocean as a new pioneer.

5 out of 5 stars

Source: PaperBackSwap

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