Government conspiracy drives the danger in this absorbing near-future apocalyptic tale of underwater intrigue.
When 16-year-old Alannis Summers volunteers to intern on a research expedition to find the cause behind a fast-spreading, oceanic plague, her desire is to prove herself as both a diver and a scientist. The Fouling—a hard, black crust that has been sinking ships from the Gulf of Mexico all along the Atlantic seaboard, making a complete wreck of the global economy—may have started in the mysterious islands of the Cubbarros, so world-renowned marine biologist Dr. Candace Warren has organized a research trip to find the cure. Initially concerned only with making herself useful while fitting in with the scientists and crew, Alannis realizes that the superstitions of the Cubbarros may be true. She begins to suspect that the secrets behind those superstitions are being kept by a large, military force known as the Commission, which years before ousted the government of the Cubbarros and formed an organization controlling trade in the Atlantic. The more Alannis discovers—a wreck she spots on an early morning swim, bioluminescent squid that swim beside the research vessel and something watching the divers in the water—the more trouble she may be in. Conyer’s descriptions of Alannis’ dives are full of sensory details that will bring readers closer to Alannis’ adventures: “The familiar feel of breathing underwater and the light mechanical sound of the regulator are like instant meditation. A soft shhhhh in followed by the deep whooshhhh and the gurgle of bubbles out.” As danger develops, Alannis’ suspicion about her teammates grows, as do her doubts about her own sanity when she begins to believe the superstitions. Though the government conspiracies aren’t especially sophisticated, the pressurized feeling of danger convincingly presses in on Alannis and the research crew. Despite her protestations, there’s plenty of chemistry in her relationship with Jake, the slightly older first mate. Conyer leaves enough loose ends that readers will eagerly await a second installment in Alannis’ seafaring adventure.
A seaworthy supernatural voyage.