Saturday, May 18, 2013

The Neptune Project, by Polly Holyoke

Disney Book Group, ISBN 9781423157564, May 2013

Global warming has continued to do its worst. Earth is hotter; the seas have risen; climate zones have moved; there has not been the wonderful increase in arable land envisioned by some optimists. As a result, political upheaval has produced new, fragmented, and from what we see, mostly repressive governments.

Nere Hanson is a teenage girl living in the Western Collective, somewhere along what was the southern California coastline. She remembers a happier family past when her father and mother were both marine scientists, and her older brother was still with them. Now, her father is dead, her brother has run off after a steady deterioration of his relationship with their mother, and Nere herself, with weak eyes and weak lungs, is not happy anywhere but in the ocean, with the dolphins her mother still works with. It's a tough life, but it is a life.

Their dangerous secret is that Nere and her mother, Gillian, are both telepaths.

Then the Western Collective cracks down, announcing that because food production is too low and the smugglers are too active, everyone is being moved inland. What really brings Nere's world crashing down, though, is when her mother tells her the bigger, more dangerous secret, the one that is going to send Nere and her friends on a dangerous ocean journey with their dolphin friends.

This is a pretty good YA adventure novel, with some major excitement and plot twists along the way. Characters are allowed to be complex, to have both good and bad in them, to make both right and wrong choices. Both Kyel and Dai, two of the older teens that Nere and her friends meet up with, demonstrate both the capacity for an alarming ruthlessness, and a willingness to take serious risks for the benefit of their slowly expanding group. The choices made along the way are real choices, difficult ones, with no way to be certain you've made the right choice.

It's not a perfect book. There are some clumsy bits, like the new, futuristic currency being called "dollarns" and "birthday" having become "birthing day." There are other little bits that aren't well thought out. Overall, though, this is a nice, solid adventure story.

Recommended for light reading.

I received a free electronic galley from the publisher via NetGalley.