Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Book review: The Darkdeep by Ally Condie and Brendan Reichs

Book Summary
When a bullying incident sends twelve-year-old Nico Holland over the edge of a cliff into the icy waters of Still Cove, where no one ever goes, friends Tyler and Ella - and even 'cool kid' Opal -rush to his rescue... only to discover an island hidden in the swirling mists below.

Shrouded by dense trees and murky tides, the island appears uninhabited, although the kids can't quite shake the feeling that something about it is off. Their suspicions grow when they stumble upon an abandoned houseboat with an array of curiosities inside: odd-looking weapons, unnerving portraits, maps to places they've never heard of, and a glass jar containing something completely unidentifiable.

As the group delves deeper into the unknown, their discoveries - and their lives -begin to intertwine in weird and creepy ways. Something ancient has awakened... and it knows their wishes and dreams - and their darkest, most terrible secrets. Do they have what it takes to face the shadowy things that lurk within their own hearts?

Flo's Review
First of all, I have to let you know in full disclosure -- I'm kind of obsessed with Ally Condie. Did you know that there used to a fansite for the Matched trilogy? That's right. Guess who was the main writer? This girl. Wanna hear about Atlantia? Here's the review I wrote for Fangirlish. Anyway, I love Ally.

So when I read about this middle grade story she was co-authoring with Brendan Reichs, I immediately wanted it. First the cover: it's cute and creepy at the same time! Yes, a contrasting combination, but it somehow manages to pull it off, what with the 4 kids in the rowboat (aww!) heading toward a big, dark scary thing (eek!)

What a creative story! I don't want to give away details, but so many elements are so unique and quirky. I can definitely see a kid exclaiming, "Cool!" as he experiences some of the supernatural things in the story. But there's also so much more to the Darkdeep than I think we learned in this first book. I was impressed and intrigued with the back story and I am so curious to learn more about its history. 

The Darkdeep also does so well with character relationships and development. Everyone has that super enthusiastic friend like Emma. Tyler's comments made me laugh at several points in the story, because, dude, Tyler is me! He reacted to the Darkdeep probably how I would react. But he will drop everything for Emma and that is just adorable and I love it. I also thought the relationship between Opal and Nico was well done, especially for a middle grade novel. It's true to the age group, but there's definitely more to it that I hope will be uncovered in future Darkdeep novels. I can't say too much about Logan's character arc and remain spoiler-free, but I appreciate his journey and contribution.

The Darkdeep publishes on October 2, and if you're looking for a creative, easy-to-read middle grade novel, I'd recommend you check this out. But I have to know....what's the thing in the jar??!?

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