Monday, October 26, 2015

The Beast of Cretacea--Shelf Awareness

New review in Shelf Awareness!

YA Review: The Beast of Cretacea

The Beast of Cretacea by Todd Strasser (Candlewick, $18.99 hardcover, 432p., ages 12-up, 9780763669010, October 23, 2015)

With The Beast of Cretacea, Todd Strasser (The Wave; Give a Boy a Gun; Fallout) crafts a thrilling interplanetary adventure based on Herman Melville's classic story of revenge and madness, Moby Dick. Gone are descriptive passages about whale species and shades of white. Instead, Strasser focuses on the action. Ishmael, Queequeg, Starbuck and Ahab are still on the ship, but their quarry, the great white whale, has been replaced by the Great Terrafin.

When 17-year-old Ishmael wakes up aboard the Pequod, he is amazed by Cretacea, the clean, beautiful planet on which he finds himself. He hopes to earn enough money to save his foster parents, before the foul air and lack of water back on the coal-burning, oxygen-depleted Earth kill them. Now, miraculously, he is floating on "a vast, glittering blue-green sea." As Ishmael trains for his new job--catching ocean-dwelling creatures to ship back to the dying Earth--he quickly proves himself a courageous leader among the motley crew of men and women. But when the Great Terrafin is spotted, Captain Ahab ignores the "catchable beasts," as well as the safety of ship and crew, to chase down his nemesis.

Ishmael grapples with fierce pirates, isolated island dwellers and various sea beasts, all the while worrying about his foster parents and his much-loved, disabled foster brother, whom readers learn about in flashbacks. High-tech gadgets, from drones to virtual reality goggles, add a modern twist to this apocalyptic adaptation, part political satire, part environmental cautionary tale. --Lynn Becker, host of Book Talk, a monthly online discussion of children's books for the Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators. 

Discover: Ishmael risks his life to save his family in Todd Strasser's maritime swashbuckler and environmental cautionary tale, based on Moby Dick.

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