Thursday, July 17, 2014

Surrounded by Sharks ~ Michael Northrop review [@mdnorthrop @Scholastic]

Surrounded by Sharks
Scholastic Press
May 27, 2014
224 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depo/or Amazon

A thrilling survival story from Michael Northrop, the acclaimed author of TRAPPED.

He couldn't sleep. That's how it all started.

When Davey wakes, just as the sun is rising, he can't wait to slip out of the crammed hotel room he's sharing with his family. Leave it to his parents and kid brother to waste an entire day of vacation sleeping in! Davey heads straight for the beach, book and glasses in hand, not bothering to leave a note. As the sparkling ocean entices him, he decides to test the water, never mind that "No Swimming" sign. But as the waves pull him farther from shore, Davey finds himself surrounded by water -- and something else, too. Something circling below the surface, watching, waiting. It's just a matter of time.

Michael Northrop's Surrounded by Sharks is a very fun adventure, survival story.When thirteen-year-old Davey wakes up before the rest of his family in their Florida Keys hotel room, he knows it will be hours before they're ready to go. Unwilling to spend those hours in the room, he heads outside to the beach.

He never intended to go swimming, especially not somewhere with a sign telling him not to. And he certainly never intended to end up far, far away from shore surrounded by nothing but water - and sharks.

Surrounded by Sharks has an excellent setup. You know Davey is going to end up in the ocean, 'surrounded by sharks,' but that's not where his story starts. The actions he takes that lead to his being in danger are ones that seem so innocuous it's easy to picture yourself doing the same. They may not all be the safest, smartest choices, but on their own, there's no problem. It's the accumulation of all of those seemingly innocent decisions that poses a threat.

As Davey's series of choices, of mistakes, maybe, gradually puts him in danger, the tension increases, as well. At first,  it seems to be almost lacking, though you're sure it's coming.

The closer the story comes to its conclusion, readers will be practically biting their nails waiting to see what happens to Davey.

The details of what happens to Davey, of the animals he encounters and their actions, feel very real and well done. This realistic portrayal increases the feeling of danger and suspense.

Surrounded by Sharks' chapters alternate between Davey's perspective and those on the island - his family, the fellow vacationers they encoutner, etc - and their search for him. The different stories add to the drama, whether it's those on land doing as Davey expects, or their not. We can see both sides and know just how wrong they are about their beliefs, what they should be doing, or how quickly they need to be doing it.

A younger YA novel, Surrounded by Sharks can still be enjoyed by older readers who like adventure, survival stories that are quick, fun reads.

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