AUTHOR: Sarah Driver
RELEASE DATE: April 6, 2017
GENRE: Junior Fantasy, Adventure
PAGE COUNT: 336
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Goodreads blurb: In the sky, the fire spirits dance and ripple. Grandma says they showed our Tribe that I’d be a captain, before I was even born.
Ever since Ma died, Mouse has looked after her little brother, Sparrow, dreaming of her destiny as captain of the Huntress. But now Da’s missing, Sparrow is in danger, and a deathly cold is creeping across Trianukka . . .
Sea-churning, beast-chattering, dream-dancing, whale-riding, terrodyl-flying, world-saving adventure.
If you love perilous adventures, high stakes, and beautiful worldbuilding, you will love Sea. It reminds me of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials: junior readers will need the same maturity level (10-13 years?) to enjoy both books, although Sea feels fresher and faster because it is told from first person point of view and in present tense. While this genre isn’t usually my cup of tea, the worldbuilding and characters swept me up and took me for a ride. There’s a lot of magic and lore that builds a strong atmosphere.
Mouse is an outspoken twelve-year-old girl, granddaughter of The Huntress’s captain and next in line to captain the ship. She has the rare gift of beast-chatter, which allows her to communicate with animals. When tyranny breaks out onboard The Huntress and her birthright and True-Tribe are threatened, Mouse is forced to fight for her life.
What am I, without my ship? I hunch over the spiny bump and grip Sparrow’s hand. Shooting stars sizzle through the night sky. The sky-gods must be warring with fire and iron spears – page 316
Mouse is the kickass girl hero we need. Some of the characters belittle her because she’s a girl, but Mouse never allows herself to be held back by her age or gender. She will stop at nothing to save her family, regularly endangering herself and pushing her body and mind beyond their limits to pull off wild feats. She almost dies too many times to count! Her adventures are so action-packed, there is barely a second to rest!
Your path will bring you many dangers. But you must not fight your powers. Grow them. Use your fear – page 199
Pretty much every chapter introduces new stakes so the story arc is constantly climbing to adrenaline-pumping heights! Be prepared for constant climaxes and cliffhangers. This would be a good book for kids who find reading boring or who need lots of stimuli to stay concentrated. Sea doesn’t give you a chance to catch your breath, so if this is what you look for in a book, look no further. This is the sort of book that keeps you up at night, saying “just one more chapter…”
A little warning: Sea is pretty violent for middle grade fiction (lots of blood, one character is shot dead, an adult hits a child). If you wouldn’t let your child watch M-rated movies, then maybe Sea should wait until they’re at preteen reading level. After all, Mouse turns thirteen in the story, so readers of a similar age are going to get a lot more out of it.
Sea was a real venture out of my comfort zone, but I was swept up in its rollicking storytelling and worldbuilding. I can’t wait to read the rest of the trilogy!