Several centuries after global warming has devastated the planet, a tyrannical government has taken control of the West Coast of America.
In a small seaside community in what was Southern California, Nere lives with her scientist mother and a pod of trained dolphins. Unbeknownst to Nere, her parents have genetically engineered her and several other children to breathe under water so they can live free there someday. When the government announces its intention to move the entire community inland, Nere’s mother finishes the alterations on the children and sends them away into the sea, where they will try to join Nere’s father’s colony for these new “Neptune children.” Nere and her friends, along with their friendly dolphins, must make their way there under the sea while fighting sharks and avoiding capture by government forces. They communicate telepathically, and Nere is even able to talk with the dolphins. Together with other Neptune children from Southern California, they head north, hiding and fighting all the way. Holyoke keeps her prose well-pitched to her audience, providing enough violence and even death to create suspense but muting it appropriately. She creates an interesting and diverse set of characters, including the dolphins. The science-fiction elements are nothing new, but they are built on good information about oceanography.
This suspenseful, undersea dystopia should keep middle schoolers hooked. (Science fiction. 9-12)