CM . . .
. Volume XIX Number 18. . . .January 11, 2013
London, UK: Red Fox Books (Distributed in Canada by Random House of Canada), 2012.
280 pp., pbk., $10.95.
Grades 5-8 / Ages 10-13.
Review by Tara Stieglitz.
Hal swam towards his brother, but he could make little headway because of the pull of the fish on his gun. It was a choice between saving the gun or saving Roger. He let go of the gun and the big grey snapper promptly sway away towing the precious sea rifle behind him.
Hal crashed into Roger, violently pushing him out of the path of the oncoming boat. Then he ducked but not in time to escape the boat's iron-ribbed keel. It struck him squarely on the head and then scraped over him as it sped on. His last thought before he faded out was that the blades of the propeller would chop him into mincemeat.
Underwater Adventure is part of a series of books featuring Hal and Roger Hunt, a pair of teenage brothers who travel the world aiding their father in collecting wild animals for zoos. Willard Price began this series in the late 1940s, but, despite the mention of old fashioned diving equipment, the language of the novel is not overly dated and holds up well as an adventure story. In Underwater Adventure, Hal and Roger's father has lent them to Dr Blake of the Oceanographic Institute to help him collect marine specimens.
While entertaining and frequently suspenseful, the plot of Underwater Adventure is extremely repetitive. The first half of the book repeats the same pattern several times. The pattern begins with Hal and Roger getting introduced to a new piece of diving equipment. One of them gets to try it out only to run into some sort of danger and then narrowly escapes with his life. This made the action-filled events of the book feel tired. It was not until the second half of the book that a major plot point, namely the search for a sunken ship full of treasure, was even mentioned. After this, the plot picks up and gains more variety with the introduction of smugglers and disingenuous treasure-seekers. Action and suspense are the focus of this novel, with very little in the way of characterization. Most of the characters are stock characters with little depth, but Hal and Roger are likable and worth rooting for.
Underwater Adventure is a straightforward adventure story featuring many classic tropes of the genre including irredeemable villains, bumbling adults and jaunty boy heroes. While not the best-written book, this novel would appeal to young readers looking for an action-filled plot and little in the way of characterization.
Tara Stieglitz is a librarian at Grant MacEwan University in Edmonton, AB.
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