________________ CM . . . . Volume XII Number 4 . . . .October 14, 2005


The Aquanauts.

John Lunn.
Toronto, ON: Tundra, 2005.
221 pp., pbk., $12.99.
ISBN 0-88776-727-3.

Grades 5-9 / Ages 10-14.

Review by Ann Ketcheson.

**** /4

Reviewed from prepublication copy.



Time-out. I was living a normal enough life in Oregon. I had a couple of friends, got into my share of trouble, and had a thing for a guy in my chemistry class. Normal enough. All of a sudden I became an experiment on the bottom of the ocean with a bunch of whacked-out scientists and three totally strange kids. A man was dead, Frankenstein's secret lab was on the ground floor, and a primordial volcano was smoking away just outside the door. Now my dad and Dr. Strangelove have suddenly vanished in the pool like sugar dissolving in water and I was soaked and shivering after splashing around fully clothed trying to find them. The only positive thing I could say about any of this was that I wasn't alone.


Since almost anything is better than sitting in summer school classes, 15-year-old Greta decides to accompany her scientist father to his submarine laboratory at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. What begins as an amazing adventure turns into a nightmare of thrills and chills. Greta and her friends, Jules, Nicky and Marco, are caught up in the first man-made black hole, and a major accident spins them billions of years through time into the future. Eventually, they must learn to distinguish among the various layers of time and then travel through them to the appropriate spot to save themselves and come back to the present world. It is like putting together the pieces of a mammoth puzzle. And as if this weren't enough, some of the laboratory team are mad scientists who will stop at nothing to see their experiment succeed. At one point, Greta is captured by this crazy group and is used for experiments forcing her to go back and forth through time using the black hole.

     John Lunn's novel combines science fiction, adventure, suspense and even a dash of romance, all of which will keep young readers turning the pages. The Aquanauts (Jules, Nicky, Marco and Greta) are thrown together merely because their parents are involved with the underwater laboratory. In these rather weird circumstances, the teens manage to overcome initial conflicts and eventually become a close-knit team. Lunn portrays believable young teens with clearly drawn character traits and appropriate language. They are not stereotyped as to their roles in the adventure. He weaves themes of friendship, belonging and teamwork into the story in a subtle way. This is a coming-of-age story like so many other teen novels, but in a strange world which turns into some sort of weird and frightening time warp. Greta learns the importance of education and applying her abilities and talents to achieve her goals, but Lunn includes this theme without belaboring the point.

     The writing is creative and imaginative and certainly fast-paced enough to keep even reluctant readers interested. The 220 pages are divided into 18 chapters, and there are plenty of thrills per page! Younger teens with an appetite for science fiction literature will enjoy the strange and wacky underwater world created by Lunn. Others will focus on a good adventure story with a great cast of characters. The Aquanauts is a novel with wide appeal.

Highly Recommended.

Ann Ketcheson is a former teacher-librarian and teacher of high school English and French. She lives in Ottawa, ON.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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