The first in a series, a contemporary castaway tale featuring a blended family.
Twelve-year-old Sarah Robinson (yes, shades of Swiss Family Robinson) is upset: Her father has remarried (he met his new wife, Yvonna Murillo, through online dating). Now Sarah’s stuck with stepbrothers Marco (Sarah’s age) and his little brother, Nacho. Marco’s equally unhappy about moving from Texas to Southern California. When the newlyweds decide to skip their honeymoon in lieu of an all-family cruise, the kids soon face bigger problems than merging food preferences and family traditions. Alternating chapters punctuated with plentiful dialogue move briskly, offering readers Sarah’s and Marco’s reactions to an increasingly surreal adventure. It begins when they board the sketchy Moonflight, manned by an understaffed Capt. Norm (his first mate is a Newfoundland called Ahab), and escalates with a sudden storm that maroons them off a lush tropical island. Sarah and Marco glimpse strange creatures, suggesting trouble lurks in paradise (they must climb trees to avoid giant coconut-eating crabs). Sarah and Marco’s shared sense of danger ultimately transforms them from inconvenienced, contrary preteens to wary allies facing threats no one (including readers) understands: The book ends abruptly and on an ominous note, with a “smear of red” in the sky and many unanswered questions.
More tantalizing appetizer than full entrée, this book will leave readers hungry for a second helping. (Adventure. 10-13)