With help from an array of friendly wildlife, a band of summer campers stages a rescue and stymies a ruthless harvester of shark fins in this series opener.
Twelve-year-old Tristan joins other newbie Seasquirts invited to a sea park in the Florida Keys and is delighted to discover not only that he can talk to sharks, but his new camp mates are endowed with similarly unusual abilities. These range from porpoiselike echolocation to hagfish-style “mucus deployment skills.” These are all quickly put to the test when a trio of older camp teens is captured by a gang of “finners” in the Bahamas. The hastily planned rescue features a massive poop attack from flocks of birds, a bit of lock picking by an intrepid octopus and exhausting treks over land and sea to evade thugs on jet skis. Though sometimes a little too human—sharks talk to Tristan in West Indies accents: “Mon, we no want to eat your bony butt!”—the sea life, along with reefs, bioluminescence and other marine wonders, is generally depicted by Prager, a marine scientist, in accurate, vivid detail. The story’s color and energy fade in the wrap-up chapter, which is largely explication, but overall, there’s more than enough action and humor to pull readers along.
Some may feel that the climactic eco-revenge is carried a bit far, but it’s a splashy startup with a promising premise. (maps) (Adventure. 10-12)