Fifteen-year-old Annie Fleet is the daughter of a high school teacher and the owner of a dive shop, and she is only able to attend the prestigious (and expensive) Pinedale Academy—the population of which runs more to the rich and beautiful than the salty and sun-bleached—because her father is a member of the faculty.
She started using a metal detector at a young age, and since she’s been diving for practically as long, it only makes sense that she’d have the treasure bug. Which is how she ends up on a school trip to Mexico: Sure, helping to rebuild a hurricane-ravaged community with other members of her Mysteries of the Deep class will look great on her college applications, but truth be told, she signed up because the trip is called “Good Deeds and Gold Doubloons.” Well, that and the fact that her crush is going, too.
Long story short, Annie and her scuba skills get embroiled in a race to find the lost treasure of Hernán Cortés, and it turns out that the men she’s up against will stop at nothing to beat her to the prize. INCLUDING MURDER. (Dun dun duuuuuuuuuun!)
Coert Voorhees’ In Too Deep has its strengths—Annie’s narration is clear and straightforward, and while she won’t wow readers with literary flourishes or an original voice, she is very self-deprecating and funny. Even though it’ll always be clear to readers that she isn’t as tragically awkward as she thinks she is, they’ll still feel embarrassed along with her...so that’s something. Also, there are some great moments between the teen characters, though it certainly never reaches the heights of say, The Goonies*. Overall, it’s bland enough that I doubt I’ll be recommending it to anyone but the most avid of young scuba divers, and the story takes so long to get going that even THEY might give up on it.
In Too Deep ticks all of the boxes of your run-of-the-mill romantic adventure—there is danger, there are laughs, there are smoochies—but none of those factors ever fully integrate into a cohesive whole and, even separately, those aspects never venture outside of the purely generic. The characters end the book as exactly the same people they are on the first page, so there is little-to-no character development; the villains are purely, boringly, one-dimensionally villainous; and neither the romance nor the danger is all that thrilling, since, despite Annie’s constant stream of genuinely funny lines, there’s just not really all that much to care about.
All that said, it might work for a younger fan of adventure stories who’s just beginning to explore the teen section...well, as long as you’re dealing with a reader who’ll respond to sexual innuendo along the lines of, “I bet he’s showing you his hard drive” and “I hope you’re using a surge protector” with a giggle rather than a gasp.
*Which, I realize, is possibly an unfairly high bar. But...a search for long-lost treasure conducted by an economically challenged protagonist who’s up against a murderous band of outlaws? It’s practically ASKING for that comparison.
If she isn't writing Bookshelves of Doom or doing her librarian thing, Leila Roy might be making stuff for her Etsy shop while re-watching Veronica Mars, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Babylon 5, Black Books or Twin Peaks. Well, that or she’s hanging out on Twitter. Or both.