Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Journey to Atlantis - for Tween Tuesday

Tween Tuesday was started over at Green Bean Teen Queen as away to highlight awesome books for the 9-12 yr olds or Tweens. Any book highlighted on Tween Tuesday also counts for the In the Middle Reading Challenge! This week's book is:
Roy, Philip. Journey to Atlantis. Vancouver: Ronsdale Press, 2009. Print. The Submarine Outlaw Series 2.
[Book cover credit: librarything.com/work/9545628]

With a little help from Alfred's grandfather, Ziegrfried has added extra speed, power, and, of course, safety precautions to the sub. It's a good thing, too, as Alfred will need them all as he crosses the Atlantic in search of the lost city of Atlantis.

I was worried/excited that Journey to Atlantis would break entirely from the precedent set by the first book in the series and suddenly have mermaids, a city suspended under a bubble on the bottom of the ocean, or other such impossibilities. Worried for readers who were drawn to the first book because of it's realistic tone and wealth of information; excited because Atlantis is pretty cool. Turns out, my worry was unnecessary. Magical creatures don't suddenly pop out of the ocean to take Alfred, Hollie, and Seaweed to their underwater palaces; this book is planted firmly in reality. Still, the ocean is still an unfathomable place, exactly why Alfred wants to be free to explore it, and not everything he encounters during his trip across the ocean can be rationalized or explained away.

Alfred studies quite a bit in preparation for this trip, looking especially at accounts of others' search for the lost city. He also studies at sea navigation, international law for water travel, and modern day piracy (in order to avoid, not to practice). All of this studying happens before the opening of the book (luckily), but the knowledge Alfred acquired over the winter shows throughout the novel and, of course, is shared with the reader. What might be considered an information overload in another series, fits well with the Alfred (and Ziegfried) we were introduced to in the previous book.

During his trip, Alfred meets scholars, sailors, world travelers, and many other people during his travels (yes, including pirates!). Though he continues to be brave and good, sacrificing his time and, in some cases, his safety to help others, this book is more about the exploring that Alfred is finally able to do rather than his adventures in the submarine. The descriptions of the Mediterranean, the western coast of Africa, Azores are amazing. Roy practically paints pictures of these locales, in addition to describing the people Alfred gets to meet. Though the story remains a bit episodic, Journey to Atlantis has a clear goal in mind throughout: find the lost city. Alfred retraces the steps of other explorers, circles sonar abnormalities, and most importantly, lets himself believe that there might be something left of Atlantis to find. His eagerness to continue the search ties all of his other encounters together, making this book flow much more smoothly than the last. I can't wait to see how Roy improves on the next book in the series as well.

Again, my "big" complaint is actually a minor one. After the heroism Alfred showed the previous year exploring his own coastline, his grandma and grandpa decide to support his decision not to be a fisherman, which is great! Grandpa expresses his approval by suddenly showing up at the boathouse one day to help Alfred and Ziegfried work on the sub, and Grandma, well, Grandma does this:
The observation window, in the floor of the bow, was also the same, except that Hollie's beloved blanket, rather frayed at the edges, had been replace by a lovely quilt my grandmother had knitted especially for him.
Does anyone else see the problem? Probably not. And, no, it's not that you should never replace a dog's blankie because they freak out about it (Hollie whines until he gets his old blanket back). The problem is that you quilt a quilt, or maybe sew it. You knit an afghan. Of course, this little sentence is probably not a problem for very many people, just knitter and quilters, and we're really not the intended audience, so I guess it's okay. :-)

This is a great second book in a series. It takes us beyond the premise of the first book, but does not act  ONLY as a bridge to the third book. No Second Book Syndrome here! The third book in the series, River Odyssey, will take Alfred, Hollie and Seaweed up the St. Lawrence River where Alfred hopes to find not only a sunken ocean-liner but his father. It is available for purchase from the publisher's website!

Book 1: Submarine Outlaw
Book source: Review copy from publisher

1 comment:

Charlotte said...

I'll look out for this series, despite the knitted quilt! :) I agree, it's vexing when a small mistake like that knocks one out of a perfectly good story....