cover image Above World

Above World

Jenn Reese. Candlewick, $16.99 (368p) ISBN 978-0-7636-5417-7

First-time author Reese takes mermaids (and other mythological hybrid creatures) into postapocalyptic territory in a straightforward but exciting adventure. Aluna, a hotheaded 13-year-old Kampii who is just about to trade her legs for a tail in a coming-of-age ceremony, has discovered that the poorly understood mechanisms that support her isolated, underwater community are beginning to break down. Defying the Elders and accompanied by her loyal sidekick, technophilic Hoku, Aluna sets out to find HydroTek, the long-lost source of her people’s technology. Aluna and Hoku are determined and resourceful protagonists, and the novel’s hybrid species are fun and cleverly imagined (the birdlike Avians factor heavily into this installment); the Upgraders, who murder other post-humans for their body parts, are sadistic, one-dimensional monsters that owe a thing or two to the Borg of Star Trek. Action-seeking readers should enjoy the many revelations, twists, and hand-to-claw battle sequences, and fierce, take-charge Aluna is the kind of heroine who is easy to get behind. An open-ended conclusion leaves the door to Reese’s futuristic world wide open for future adventures. Ages 10–up. Agent: Joe Monti, Barry Goldblatt Literary. (Feb.)