The Neptune Project by Polly Holyoke
Publication Date: May 21, 2013
Rating: 3 stars
Source: eARC from NetGalley
Summary (from Goodreads):
THE NEPTUNE PROJECT is set in a future where the seas are rising and wars and famines wrack the surface world. Nere Hanson and her teen companions are shocked to learn that they have been genetically altered by their desperate parents to live in the sea. Protected by her loyal dolphins, shy Nere leads the rest on a perilous journey to her father's new colony. Fighting off government divers, sharks and giant squid, can Nere and her companions learn to trust each other before their dangerous new world destroys them?
What I Liked:
I was not sure what I was expecting from this book, but I know for a fact that I did not realize it was a Middle Grade novel! I love Middle Grade, and I am really glad I got the chance to read this book. I believe it is my first Middle Grade read of the year.
Anyway. The concept of this book was very interesting! I haven't read many books that deal with an underwater setting, and I thought that Ms. Holyoke did an excellent job of describing the ocean and underwater. I was blown away by the depth of her knowledge of the ocean (no pun intended), and how she went from talking about one type of fish to another with ease. It was clear to me that Ms. Holyoke had a vast knowledge of the underwater world, and that she did her research well. I have to say, that is my favorite thing about this entire book - the description of below the surface, and the use of many different fish species and other ocean-related things that added to the authenticity of this novel.
The novel is set in a futuristic time. In this novel, the world has been heating up drastically due to global warming, and there is garbage everywhere, and the Marines basically own the ocean. I didn't get a good feel for what was going on above the surface, because the majority of the book is spent underwater. But I thought that it was awesome that Ms. Holyoke used an environmental problem to get her novel going (because I'm all about the environment, as an environmental engineering major).
So Nere (the protagonist) and a bunch of other kids have been subjected to change from land-loving humans to sea-loving humans. Nere's parents perfected some sort of shot that made Nere and two other kids from Nere's island able to survive underwater. Nere and the other two kids meet up with other kids from other areas of the world, and they all must swim across the sea to meet Nere's father in an underwater community.
The romance threw me off. It wasn't that I was torn between two guys - because Nere wasn't torn between two guys (though there was the presence of two guys). I liked the obvious guy well enough, but his predicament at the end... I didn't really buy it. I won't spoil anything, but I was not impressed with the male love interest at the end of the book.
The ending is a bit of a cliffhanger, and the author did say she had another book written. Hopefully that book takes care of the cliffhanger!
What I Did Not Like:
It's not to say that I didn't like this book... I just didn't love it. I didn't feel impressed at the end of the book, despite my fascination with the overall idea of the story. And there were little things that bothered me throughout the book.
For one, I seriously thought this book was a Young Adult book (for older teens, I suppose) for a good portion of the book, because Nere's voice and actions are pretty developed. I guess that can be seen as a good thing, that she's mature, but it just didn't make sense when I found out her age. She didn't act like an adolescent. So I was confused about that.
And you already know that I can't stand the love interest's decision at the end of the story. Why can't he just run away? What's so hard about swimming away? I hope I didn't spoil anything - but you all probably have no idea what I'm talking about.
I also didn't really see a climax in this book. It just kept going and going (which was really boring), and there would be a problem pretty often (like, sharks, or the Marines), but I didn't see a ton of buildup, and then the "climax" wasn't really a climax. And getting to the end took some effort, because I felt like the story just drifted on and on for a sizable percentage of the story.
And the cliffhanger ending. I was a tad bit irritated with it, and I have half a mind not to read the next book (if it gets picked up by Disney-Hyperion), because I don't really care to see where this story is going.
Would I Recommend It:
If you liked Middle Grade, yes! Go for it! You might enjoy it. If you're a Young Adult fan, then probably not. I'm glad I got the chance to read this one, but if it weren't for the tour, I probably wouldn't have picked it up.
3 stars. Not bad, but not amazing either.
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