The Secret Deep

Scholastic/Chicken House. Feb. 2020. 320p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781338567397.
Gr 4-7–Orphaned after their mother succumbs to cancer, 13-year-old Aster and her 11-year-old sister Poppy travel to live in New Zealand with their Aunt Iona, whom they have not seen in years. They know that she is a scientific researcher, but they are surprised to learn that they will be joining her to live in a remote ecovillage populated by orphaned teens from different parts of the world. After taking a scuba diving expedition with the rest of the village residents, Aster finds herself washed up on an island. As she desperately searches for her sister, she begins to learn the truth about what Iona is doing with her research. Interwoven with Aster and Poppy’s story is that of Sam, a young man they met on the flight to New Zealand. Discovering Poppy’s phone left behind near a beach, Sam tries to find his friends with the help of Iona’s scientific rival. The two story lines merge in a breathtaking encounter that is both disastrous and transformational. It is easy to become engrossed in this compelling story, and Aster is a convincing lead character; readers will sympathize with her grief and her anxieties. They will cheer her on as she grows strong through facing heart-pounding danger and learning to trust herself.
VERDICT A thrilling and original science-fiction mystery that will surprise readers at every turn.

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