Monday, February 15, 2016

Book Review: The Neptune Project

The Neptune Project
Polly Holyoke
Disney/Hyperion, 2013
Source: borrowed
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Nere has always loved the ocean.  She's grown up swimming with and training the dolphins--it helps that she can communicate with them telepathically--and then the government announces that they will be moving everyone to help reduce the smuggling that is happening their area.  This terrifies Nere because she's always relied on being near the ocean to help with her breathing and inland there won't be medicine to help her breathe or the ocean air to settle her lungs.  Then her mother tells her the truth--that she, along with a few other children in their small town, have been genetically altered to be similar to dolphins.  Their job is to evade the government and swim up the coast thousands and thousands of miles to find the refuge built for them and the many other children throughout the country who have also been genetically altered.  Nere doesn't want to be an experiment, though, and she's angry that her parents never told her when everyone else seemed to know this would happen to them someday.  Nonetheless, the only way she and her friends will live is by following her mom's directions.

So this book was better than I had anticipated.  A student had leant it to me and I have had it on my desk since right before Winter break.  I'm always hoping to like a book that a student lends me, but it's not always possible and I feel bad if I'm not as enthusiastic about it as they are, happens. Luckily with this book I'll be able to find some positive things to talk with her about.

For one thing, the story moves quickly and there is a lot of action.  Most of the time they are in grave danger, which means there are spear guns being shot (by the main characters or their enemies), boats overhead, fishing nets, or sharks to deal with as they are trying to escape north.  Within those moments I did want to find out what happened, but there was one too many "let's escape the boats" moment.  It felt a little repetitive and in between those fights, I was bored, thinking that there really wasn't much I was getting from other sections.

I didn't really get a good feel for any of the characters.  Even Nere felt a little flat to me, but obviously not as much as the others.  The only character I was mildly interested in was Dai, but he very soon became too predictable for me and although I wondered what was up with him exactly, it wasn't enough to keep me focused on him.  The other characters that Nere and her friends meet up with all seemed to have a type that they fit into.  Kyel was the tough guy in charge who likes to be in control. Thom was the strong guy, but really funny and helpful.  Tobin was the sensitive one, smart.  Ree was the tough girl.  Lena was the mean girl/ex-best friend from home. Bria was the sweet little girl. Robry was the little brother type kid who was really smart and full of energy. Dai was the bad boy.  Nere was the girl who didn't think she could do it, but did and who everyone trusts right away because she's Nere.  Ehh.  There were a few more characters but I don't really remember their names.Oh and there were all the dolphins in the pod that Nere trained.  They each have their own personalities too.

There's also this really weird love...rectangle?  Not sure what to call it.  But Nere misses Cam, who is on land and hopefully still alive, but then she's intrigued by Dai, but Tobin likes her and she kind of likes him, but probably more in a friendly way.  Oh yeah and Lena likes Tobin and wants to make sure that Nere knows it so she won't steal him away from her.  So many it's a love pentagon?  Too much. However I'm pretty sure that 13 year old Meghan would have loved that description.

So it was an okay book, but there was a lot of what felt like "filler" and I was left wanting a better understanding of the characters.  Or at least a few of them. I am somewhat interested in the second book because I'm wondering what happens to a few characters, but I'm not going to try and squeeze it into my reading anytime soon.

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  1. Speaking of books where there is a fast pace and always danger...I read Surrounded by Sharks by Michael Northrup. Makes a great book talk, too.

    As for those conversations re books like and disliked I always find it much easier when it is the other way around and they don't like something I've recommended!

    1. Yes! Although sometimes my heart hurts a little if they don't. I do find myself reassuring students on a regular basis that it's okay if they don't like a book I suggested. They look like I'm going to give them a bad grade because they didn't like it.