Race to the Bottom of the Sea – Lindsay Eagar

Merrick finished her sentence for her: “What could I possibly want from you?”
Before he could elaborate, he coughed, a string of violent hacks that made Fidelia’s throat tighten in sympathy.
Bloody Elle rushed to his side, holding out a canteen.
But Merrick waved it away. “It won’t make a difference,” he snapped, “and you know it.”
He collapsed in the armchair, panting. He coughed once more, just a tickle, then straightened, locking Fidelia’s gaze with his clashing eyes. “A treasure of mine fell into the sea,” he said, “and you’re going to get it back.”” (Page 86)

Title: Race to the Bottom of the Sea
Written by: Lindsay Eagar
Genre: Children’s Books
Publisher: Candlewick
Publication Date: October 10, 2017
Paperback: 432 pages

In the Undertow anything can happen. Fidelia Quail knows this all too well as – only weeks after her parents drowned – she is kidnapped by Merrick the Monstrous, a ruthless pirate. Dragged across the sea, Fidelia has only a short time – in both days aboard the Jewel and days remaining of Merrick’s life – to invent a way to retrieve the dying pirate’s lost treasure. But the Queen’s Navy is looking for Merrick and with a relentless Admiral leading the chase, Fidelia finds herself in a dangerous race to the bottom of the sea.

Everybody dies – but hey, we got sharks!

(I was in a bad mood when I read this book so be prepared for today’s post to get nit-picky.)

I was prepared to like this book.

Here is what’s wrong with this book:

1. I have absolutely no idea when it is set.

At the start of the book Fidelia pulls out a magazine called Adventures in Science Engineering, yet later on we read about pirates being hanged, and cannonball fights. (There are other conflicting points but I came back and edited this post so it’s not too nit-picky.)

2. A character who should not have died – died. And for no good reason. He could have lived a long and prosperous life but instead he willingly did something he knew would kill him. Yes, in the end he did get what he wanted, but he died thirty seconds later so it wasn’t worth it.

He died and I didn’t don’t care because he was stupid.

3. Bloody Elle just randomly tells Fidelia about how she met Merrick. Yes, yes, yes, it did end with a threat that wouldn’t have been as serious if Bloody Elle hadn’t told the story but Fidelia already knew the Captain wasn’t someone to mess with. (Also, Merrick, Admiral Bridgewater, and Cheapshot Charlie’s past connections were explained. And, as I didn’t need to know any of the backstory to understand the current story, the explanation felt forced and came off as a “villainous monologue”.

4. Fidelia is a your stereotypical “girl-genius”. Too smart for the scientists, and way too ahead of her time (if this book is set in the past – if set in modern-day then I firmly believe she has lived under a rock her whole life.)

5. Romantic motivation.

Part of me doesn’t think this even deserves an explanation – but as I’m sure there’s someone out there who disagrees with me…

I’m am so sick of character’s motivations revolving around his/her love life. In real life people do more than fall in love, then fall out of love, then spend four hundred pages going on an adventure to get their lover back.

Actually, I don’t know anyone who does that.

6. The ending. The ending was a combination of annoyance and disgust. (Similar – but not as strong – to the feeling I had reading Little Women) Everyone I cared about in any way, shape, or form died and/or permanently left Fidelia’s life. Fidelia herself, lost all but one caring person and at the end she and said person go looking for sharks.

“Sorry kid, everyone you love is dead – but hey look, a shark you can name!”

When I got to the part about naming the shark I could literally feel the author saying: “Look at this super poignant thing which I have done! Isn’t it so poignant?!”

Other than that, I loved the book.

I found the idea of a girl getting kidnapped by pirates fascinating. You see: I love stories where someone gets kidnapped. From The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, to The Blue Sword (which is phenomenal book), to The Island of the Aunts (which I’ve mentioned before), I love reading/watching about someone being kidnapped.

Maybe this is because I have often wondered what it would be like to be forced away on an adventure – but before you come to the conclusion I just want to go on adventures, I’ll admit I’ve often wondered what it would be like to kidnap someone.

Please don’t think I’m weird.

I have no reasonable explanation for this love of kidnapping and no, I have not kidnapped anyone in the last sixteen years because “I hear it is illegal now.” (go about three minutes in)

Moving on.

Despite my grumbling there were a couple good plot twists and I really did enjoy the book – until I got answers to my burning questions.

So maybe you should all just read three-fourths of the book then stop and write your own ending.

I hesitate to recommend this book for younger readers because Merrick is dying from the inside out and his deteriorating condition is described. How it’s described is not graphic or gory but more of an extreme level of grossness (if that makes any sense).

On the other barnacle crusted hand, I also hesitate to recommend this book to older readers because I believe there are plot problems that pull you out of/ruin the story.

So I guess I recommend this book for older teens who won’t mind if major characters make suicidal and/or just plain stupid choices for no good reason.

For More Information about the Book and Author Click: HERE

Age Range: 13 and older

Cautions

Violence: Sea battles. Fidelia imagines her mom being attacked by animals. Merrick is constantly threatening others. Merrick kills/sends a man to his death. Merrick coughs blood. A man is bit by snake. A baby seal is left to die. Merrick almost cuts another pirate’s throat. Bloody Elle beats pirates with a stick. Merrick’s eye is permanently red and sometimes bleeds. Merrick gets a gash on his head. Fidelia’s parents drown. A man is shot in the leg. Merrick is shot in the shoulder after which he removes the bullet then sews up the wound. Deadly sea plants. People are stung by jellyfish. Fidelia has fish blood on her clothes. The book starts with a recipe for “chum”(which involves a lot of dead animals and blood) Flies swam around a bloating corpse. Explosions. Someone punches a guy. A crew of pirates is left to swim or drown. Civil War, shark attacks, hangings, battles, men crawling around a battlefield looking for amputated limbs, gutting people, murdering, injured/dying fish, “butchery battles”, gunfights, and bleeding animals are mentioned.

Sensuality: A man proposes and after the lady says ‘yes’, the two snuggle and kiss. Two characters kiss. Fidelia says she is the “loin fruit’” of her parents.

Profanity: Devil, idiot, h–l, d–n.

Other(drugs/alcohol): Merrick drinks rum. Sailors ask Fidelia to have a drink with them. People insult one another. Fidelia lies. Fidelia is kidnapped. A man burns a building. Evolution, ghosts, half starved animals, witches, the end of the world, breaking and entering, robbery, burglary, poison, jail breaks, scurvy, and mutiny are mentioned.

Personal Rating: 2 ½ out of 5 stars
Cleanness Rating: 3 ½ out of 5 star

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