Mysterious fish kills lead a team of young Sea Guardians to the British Virgin Islands for a round of investigative dives, brushes with disaster and, yes, shark riding.
Newly promoted to “Snapper,” Tristan, who can talk to sharks and rays, joins four teammates with similarly unusual powers for a second summer of training. Hardly has the course work begun, though, than worrisome reports send the Snappers to an idyllic archipelago. There, along with tours of magnificent reefs and other local wonders, a series of odd accidents, a scary encounter with a pair of remote-controlled bull sharks and captivity on the private island of an unscrupulous pharmaceutical tycoon ensue. Despite a questionable decision to have some characters, human and otherwise, speak in caricatured dialect (“Watch out for thems, they’ll stick ya bads”), Prager concocts an absorbing yarn in which vivid descriptions of marine beauties and rousing feats of derring-do mingle. Likewise, though Tristan’s klutziness out of the water is oversold, he and the multispecies supporting cast—notably a 5-inch mantis shrimp with an “anger management issue” and built-in clubs powerful enough to sink a submarine—are memorably diverse and colorful. A nighttime break-in (at the edge of a hurricane, for added drama) neatly saves both captives and environment while leaving the bad guys all in jail or flight.
A few leaky seams aside, a seaworthy sequel to Shark Whisperer (2014). (maps, afterword) (Adventure. 10-12)