MG Adventure Review: Race to the Bottom of the Sea by Lindsay Eagar
Race to the Bottom of the Sea Author:Lindsay Eagar Format: ARC Paperback Publisher: Candlewick Press Number of Pages: 432 Publishing: October 10th, 2017
Source: Giveaway sponsored by ArmChair Book Expo and book provided by Candlewick Press
Opening lines: "Two scoops of mashed fish guts. Four gallons of blood. Mix together in a barrel then pour into the ocean."
Fidelia Quail loves four things, her parents, the ocean, sharks and inventing new things. One day she hopes that her inventions make it past the clerks in the patent office, the same ones who can't seem to take an 11-year-old seriously no matter how remarkable her inventions are. Today Fidelia's parents are in her research submarine, the Egg, while above a nasty storm called the Under Tow is creeping closer. It's the kind of storm that landlocks everyone until it passes and this is the last chance for the Quail's to tag any of the sharks in the area before they migrate. Fidelia also really has her heart set on finding out who's responsible for diminishing the halibut supply. When Fidelia's parents are killed during the storm, she blames herself and her inventions. Her only comfort is her Aunt Julia, the local librarian who takes her in. Aunt Julia thinks it would be better for the both of them if they weren't surrounded by all of their memories of Fidelia's parents in Arborley, and she makes plans to move them to the city. Fidelia decides to take one last look at her old house before leaving and is kidnapped by Captain Merrick the Monstrous and his crew, Cheapshot Charlie and Bloody Elle. Captain Merrick was looking for her parents, but being the kid of two of the most famous marine scientists must mean she has some knowledge about the sea, especially how to safely get to the bottom of it and recover his treasure. Fidelia is at the mercy of pirates, and Captain Merrick plans to hold her parent's prized journals hostage until she agrees to help.
There are a lot of interesting elements going on in Race to the Bottom of the Sea that I didn't expect. For one, it's a pirate story filled with high sea adventure, cannons, and a corrupt Navy Admiral in pursuit of Captain Merrick, his crew, and the treasure they have hidden. There are lovely descriptions of life on the Jewel, hoisting masts, and removing barnacles. Trying to evade the Admiral and rival pirates too. While Fidelia brings all the wonder and knowledge of marine life to the story. Everything from the sharks that she encounters to her first glimpse of jellyfish. She's bright and creative and knowledgeable and this gives her the perfect opportunity to show what she knows. Interspersed within the chapters are passages from Fidelia's parent's book, Exploring an Underwater Fairyland and pages from her parent's journals on their previous explorations which she uses to help her come up with a solution on how to breathe underwater. Captain Merrick was a very complex character who I ended up liking more than I thought I would. His story is told through flashbacks to events from his past, giving context for many of his actions and helping fill in the blanks for how the treasure ended up at the bottom of the sea and why it is so important to him to retrieve. Merrick doesn't turn out to be as entirely ruthless as I initially thought, and his motivations make more sense as more of his history is revealed. At 423 pages this was on the longer side, I did however become so engrossed in the story that it seemed to fly by. Overall, I enjoyed this pirate adventure with its determined and knowledgeable main character.
Favorite quote: "Knowledge is a vessel deeper than the sea. A fool splashes in a pond and thinks he has the answers, but a wise man knows the only way to reach its depths is to ask questions."
*Race to the Bottom has been nominated for the Cybils award and my review reflects my personal opinion, not the opinion of the Cybils committee.*