Thirteen-year-old Aluna has lived her entire life under the ocean with the Coral Kampii in the City of Shifting Tides. But after centuries spent hidden from the Above World, her colony’s survival is in doubt. The Kampii’s breathing necklaces are failing, but the elders are unwilling to venture above water to seek answers. Only headstrong Aluna and her friend Hoku are stubborn and bold enough to face the terrors of land to search for way to save their people.
But can Aluna’s warrior spirit and Hoku’s tech-savvy keep them safe? Set in a world where overcrowding has led humans to adapt—growing tails to live under the ocean or wings to live on mountains—here is a ride through a future where greed and cruelty have gone unchecked, but the loyalty of friends remains true.
Release Date: February 14, 2012
Published By: Candlewick Press
Published By: Candlewick Press
Review Copy: Hardcover, 368 pages
*Received from Random House Canada for honest review
I'm unsure if I could classify this as part of Mermaid & Myth Month, after much consideration I decided yes. Though it is a dystopian like setting and the Kampii (Mermaids) we follow spend much of their time on land, they are still Mermaids. Well they are altered humans really. The deciding factor was when it was mentioned that each new world was based on mythology, Kampii=Mermaid, Avair=Harpy & Equian= Centaur. With that being said this is a new world that holds Mythological elements.
Though Above World wasn't quite what I expected I still found myself enjoying it. It's an interesting cross of Dystopian & Mythology. These are people that deal with the world becoming overpopulated and themselves being unprepared by becoming part of new tech made clans. I found all of the worlds were detailed and unique but each society also had its flaws. Though the people found a way to live in the worlds areas that do not naturally support human life (sea, sky & desert), they don't thrive. Not to mention that something fishy seems to be going on and the Kampii are dropping dead, while the Elders look the other way.
The Mermaid part was actually quite intriguing, they can not naturally breath under water but have tech that allows them to do so. Tails are also something that they come about later on in life, they are given a seed that transforms their legs into tails (painful process). Essentially they are humans that evolved/adjusted to a new way of life. I'm not sure how Avair's work but I know that they don't reproduce naturally but by basically test tube kind of grown? The Equain's they are born half horse half human. Jenn did a wonderful job taking mythology and twisting it into something that people may use as an alternative lifestyle. I was pulled in a little more to the story when the Avair's became part of the story. Their world to me was far more vivid and alive than anything I had read before that.
Aluna was a fierce and determined character. She did tend to be an act now and think later character but in her defence she was good at thinking on the spot. I kind of felt for her a little as she was the outcast of her family, the one that spoke her mind when she wasn't supposed to. There was a couple of times I thought she might loose her strength but her will to do the right thing is strong. When she risked herself to save what is considered her enemy I was blown away with her compassion as well. Aluna is what I would consider an admiral role model with her wide spectrum of desirable traits. Even when she felt attached to the Avair's because they are woman warriors, she still continued to want to keep moving to help find a way to save her people.
Hoku is such an innocent and cute character. He is a year younger than Aluna but is her best friend and for the most part her polar opposite. Though he is not a coward, he is more of a logical person than a fighter. He also seems prone to crushes but in a cute little brother type way, in such a way that you have to smile while he blushes. I will also point out that Jenn did push Hoku into the "crush on your best friend" stereotype. No he honestly just thought of Aluna as a friend and I have nothing but respect for that. His biggest crush was Calli (Avair) and they're such a cute and perfect fit.
Jenn has created something that middle grade and up can enjoy, definitely more of a middle grade read without being too childish. This isn't an easy thing to accomplish and I frequently find myself frustrated with how authors over simplify when it comes to the majority of middle grade but was happy to discover Jenn did not do that. With colourful and creative characters this was a fun and easy read. I look forward to visiting the characters in this one again in the next installment. Pick this up if you would like something a little different, with a twist on some mythological creatures and an easy story to follow.
"Paralysis?" Aluna yanked her weapon away from the jellyfish and bolted backward. "Next time, make that the first thing you mention, okay?"
"I have to save my people. You understand that, right?" She said to remind Calli, but also to remind herself. She had a place here with the Aviar, a useful place. In many ways, she fit in with the bird women far better than she did with her own people. But she'd never truly belong.
Hoku grinned back, and blushed some more, and lowered his eyes, too. Yes, yes. Kissing changed everything. He hoped to be kissing again very soon. And very often. He was highly in favor of kissing.
Meant to be, she thought. So many things were meant to be. She shouldn't have been creeping through some tunnel of garbage trying to escape from an ancient, broken-down dome full of once-Human scoundrels. She was meant to be in the ocean, swimming around with her grown up tail.