Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade
Release Date: October 26, 2021
New York Times #1 best-selling author Rick Riordan pays homage to Jules Verne in his exciting modern take on 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.
Ana Dakkar is a freshman at Harding-Pencroft Academy, a five-year high school that graduates the best marine scientists, naval warriors, navigators, and underwater explorers in the world. Ana’s parents died while on a scientific expedition two years ago, and the only family’s she’s got left is her older brother, Dev, also a student at HP. Ana’s freshman year culminates with the class’s weekend trial at sea, the details of which have been kept secret. She only hopes she has what it’ll take to succeed. All her worries are blown out of the water when, on the bus ride to the ship, Ana and her schoolmates witness a terrible tragedy that will change the trajectory of their lives.
But wait, there’s more. The professor accompanying them informs Ana that their rival school, Land Institute, and Harding-Pencroft have been fighting a cold war for a hundred and fifty years. Now that cold war has been turned up to a full broil, and the freshman are in danger of becoming fish food. In a race against deadly enemies, Ana will make amazing friends and astounding discoveries about her heritage as she puts her leadership skills to the test for the first time.
Daughter of the Deep is Riordan’s latest and greatest as he brings readers on an action packed adventure steeped in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne.
Riordan has proven time and time again that he understands the need for diverse characters in fiction, so it’s unsurprising that Daughter of the Deep succeeds with its representation. Some of the most impactful representation is through the Indian protagonist, Ana. There are also themes of colonialism throughout the novel. If you’re unaware of the history behind 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, make sure to read the forward as it has a lot of information.
As mentioned previously 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea is at the core of Daughter of the Deep. Though it’s steeped in Verne’s lore, I never left like I was missing out for not having read it. There’s enough context that I never felt lost nor was there an abundance of information that I felt like I was drowning in it.
Daughter of the Deep is a classic Riordan adventure story. It was action packed, funny, and taught readers something along the way. The characters in the story also face a significant amount of trauma. Though, this may not have been addressed as much as I would have liked. The pacing of the story didn’t allow for the characters to sit with the trauma and process it in any significant way. Perhaps Riordan will address this in another book, but kids/young adults are a lot more resilient than we think.
Side note: since Ana is coming of age she experiences periods and Riordan specifically mentions it. However, it’s not a passing mention, Riordan spent a little time addressing it and the associated pain.
Overall, Daughter of the Deep may not be as well loved as Percy Jackson, but it offers readers a story rich with lore, mystery, and adventure with a diverse cast of characters.
Have you read Daughter of the Deep? What did you think?