Seven Miles Deep - Chantrea
by Valorie Lord4 out of 5
"At last he lowered the sub and climbed aboard. He felt a bit guilty, but mostly he felt like James Bond. He could see himself piloting the sub through the ocean, exploring the deep. Maybe he could even find some old pirate treasure..." When Jake visits his dad on a deserted tropical island and finds they have a submarine, all he can think of is taking it down to explore the ocean. But if he does, will he make the discovery of his life, or the biggest mistake ever? Unlike Jake, Cori has spent his entire life in the greatest depths of the ocean, but he's never explored it either, so he's ecstatic to be sent on a mission into the great Outside. Now he must hide from predators and fight for his life, and he might never find his way home. Even if he can, it may be too late... Seven Miles Deep is a deep-sea adventure that will take you from an obscure Pacific island to the depths of the mysterious Mariana Trench. It's about some remarkably different young teens, and it's about trust and friendship. And what we might find, if we dare.
Inspired by his dad's sub, Jake dreams of what lies at the bottom of the ocean. At the same time, Cori from the undersea city of Chantrea, begins an adventure that will take him up to the alien land.
I won a copy from Goodreads First Reads and was sent a signed paperback.
I admit, this was a while ago, but I'm glad I finally got round to reading it. This is a fun little adventure for younger readers - I say up to 13 years.
Chantrea is a wonderfully imaginative place. They have a city in which several species have lived together for thousands of years. They are educated, go to school, have lots of modern inventions to aid with everyday life. There are seahorses for transport/pets, and they have a complex sport called Tri-ball that everyone follows.
The folk of Chantrea all speak English, after gleaning the language from shipwrecks (btw, I found it hard to believe - Chantrea has been around for 300,000 years; modern English is a blip in that timespan), but with a few fishy alternatives. Personally, I found the weekdays hilarious, and I got funny looks when I read it.
Cori is the first Chantrean in generations to have ascencia - which is basically a physical glitch that means he isn't affected by altitude and changes in pressure like everyone else. This means he can travel up through the depths of the ocean towards the Shining Ceiling (surface), and perhaps even confirm the existence of aliens beyond (i.e. humans).
What let it down for me was mainly the selfishness of the two main characters.
Don't get me wrong, they are nice lads, and adventurous, curious and open-minded about what they don't know. And maybe it was just the way it was written - major problems with characters were just dropped so Cori and Jake could have their bromance.
Despite the fact that the girlfriend of Cori's best friend is deathly ill and only he can scavenge the plant that will save her, he doesn't seem very driven to do so. Yes the world is big and scary and he had no idea where to look, but as soon as Cori meets Jake he spends two weeks experiencing the alien world, with hardly a thought of returning, before he eventually heads back.
Jake is alone on the desert island with only Nico, the half-wild girl whose grandmother is seriously ill and in hospital.
As soon as Cori turns up, Jake completely cuts Nico out, despite the fact she's younger and alone for the first time in her life.
Even worse, Jake is the only one that can get in touch and find out how the grandmother is doing. For the two weeks they are on the island together, Jake tells Nico about her grandmother once; it never occurs to him to give a daily update. He's too busy with Cori anyway.
Then when the grandmother dies, he doesn't say anything and doesn't feel guilty or anything, because they'd planned to go down in the sub that day.
<<end of spoiler>>
Jake is aware of Cori's mission to save the dying Chantrean, but keeps persuading him to stay longer, so they can play computer games instead. Sure.
Everything was written in a very blinkered way - focussing completely on the now, without a thought to anyone or anything else.
I get this is aimed at younger readers and you don't want to overload them, but give them some credit.
Overall, I think this was 3.5 stars for me.