Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Review: Above World by Jenne Reese

Above World
Above World
by Jenne Reese
Hardcover368 pages
Expected publication: February 14th 2012 by Candlewick Press
(For ages 10 and up)
NetGalley book for review

Premise: Ganked from Goodreads:
Thirteen-year-old Aluna has lived her entire life under the ocean with the Coral Kampii in the City of Shifting Tides. But after centuries spent hidden from the Above World, her colony's survival is at risk. The Kampii's breathing necklaces are failing, but the elders are unwilling to venture above water to seek answers. Only headstrong Aluna and her friend Hoku are stubborn and bold enough to face the terrors of land to search for way to save their people. But can Aluna's fierce determination and fighting skills and Hoku's tech-savvy keep them safe? Set in a world where overcrowding has led humans to adapt - growing tails to live under the ocean or wings to live on mountains - here is a ride through a future where greed and cruelty have gone unchecked, but the loyalty of friends remains true.
My Review - No Spoilers, just enticing hints:

Issues first, I guess:

I had a bit of trouble getting into this book and then that question of “skimming” came up. My responses referred to this book.  

I have a suspicion that some of the disconnect between me and this book derives from my (oh-so-young) age. I have a similar response with the Warrior cat books Bear loves so much. I am so curious whether my boys would love Above World… only I talked about it too much, so I scared ‘em off temporarily. (When Bear is making fish-faces at me in the hallway, something is not right! Jajajaja *cough* Oops!)

To clarify, the main character, Aluna, and her best friend, Hoku, run into shark trouble right at the beginning and somehow, miraculously escape, which is very rare (and lucky for them!)… followed immediately by finding a dead body floating around – somewhat increasingly less rare, but still very rare… followed immediately by Hoku's awesome techno talent producing super-listening ears so the two of ‘em get an earful of the exclusive elders’ meeting.

It’s just a lot of tremendous luck for someone of my, uh, maturity.  *ahem*  I was choking on the coincidences.  

Fan art by Samantha Ling: Aluna from Above World
Ganked from Jenne Reese's blog
On to the good stuff:

However, my son, Bear, would probably assume that all good things naturally come his way, so of course all this is quite believable.  In fact, he’d jump right into the very creative world – where technology has enabled people to live underwater or fly through the air or gallop across the plains. 

I mean, WOW!!  The different people groups of Above World are so creative and detailed with history and character that any sociological heart must be happy!! (I totally loved that.) And Aluna... she's such a kick-butt, gung-ho, fast-thinkin' hero - both confident and growing at the same time. Hoku brings great balance with his thoughtfulness and creativity.

There’s enough hint at romance to be fun, but not weird for 13 year olds. I especially liked the way that even the shy characters get a chance to grow and develop into people I enjoyed.  (“People” used very loosely. Not sure there’s any “people” in this story, technically speaking).

So… I’m rating this book 3.5 – worth the time – because that is how it was for me. I set it down repeatedly and skimmed through parts just to keep rolling. But I can’t fairly rate it lower than that because I suspect it’ll earn a higher rating when my kids get ahold of it.

Wrap Up:

Does this book cross over into the Adult/Teen world?  I don’t think so. I think it’s very Middle Grade – and I am very open minded about loving kids’ books. 

Will it be a hit with kids?  I suspect yes and I hope this writer keeps going with this creative world! As for the ending, this book has a great wrap up, while leaving room for more to follow. (I’ll probably let my kids take on the rest of the series on their own!) 

As a parent, is this a great book for your kids?  Oh yea. It promotes action, thinking, creativity, kindness, self-sacrifice, thoughtfulness and CREATIVITY!!  If you're trying to sell 'em on it, steer away from "Little Mermaid" - they may start off in the ocean, but they don't stay there and it's all scientifically explained (softly, not hard-technically).

Cover Commentary - "Cool". The picture is under the ocean, looking up, the direction the story goes... and "Above World" is perfect as a focus with an ocean picture!  [SPOILER:] The Seahorse box is an on-going theme that holds a secret that connects the past with the present and gives the heroes courage to act. Plus... it looks cool.

About the Author:

Jenn Reese
Jenne Reese
Ganked from her Bio:  
Jenn Reese writes science fiction and fantasy adventure stories for readers of all ages. She has published short stories online and in various anthologies, including the World Fantasy Award-winning Paper Cities. Her first novel, Jade Tiger, is an action-adventure kung fu romance for teens and adults. She’s currently at work on a middle-grade adventure series called Above World for Candlewick Press. She lives in Los Angeles where she studies martial arts, plays video games, and dreams of rain.
Jade Tiger by Jenn Reese
My first novel, Jade Tiger, is the story of Shan, a martial artist driven by the spirit of the tiger to recover the ancient jade artifacts stolen from her mother’s secret order. When geeky archaeologist Ian gets involved, Shan begins to understand that there’s more to life than chop kicks and joint locks.

Find & Follow Jenne Reese:
 * on Goodreads
 * her Website
 * her blog (where I found awesome pictures)
 * on Amazon
 * on Twitter

Pre-Order the book available Valentine's Day (2/14/12):

 * From Barnes & Noble
 * From Amazon
($9.99 for Kindle version)

While surfing around looking for Above World news I found a raving review by  Catching Books. She picked up on the sci-fi part of the book, which I didn't really. Horse-People are completely normal and expected in my world. :-)  

Catch the Book Signing Tour info HERE.