The Beast of Cretacea

432p. ebook available. Candlewick. Oct. 2015. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780763669010.
Gr 6 Up—Earth is dying, and its people are starving. There are no more crops because there is no more rain. Oceans are a myth of the past. Humanity's only hope for survival is resource mining and colonization of distant planets—planets like Cretacea. Hoping to earn enough wages to pay for his foster family to leave Earth, young Ishmael enlists as a galley worker aboard a Cretacean fishing vessel called the Pequod. The crew of the Pequod works tirelessly to harpoon as many "humps" and terrafins as possible, hoping to bolster their wages at the end of the voyage. To the ship's captain, there is only one creature that matters: the elusive (and some say mythical) beast known as the Great Terrafin. The Captain vows to make a rich man out of any crewmember aboard who can spear it. What follows for Ishmael is a riveting tale that harkens back to the high-seas adventures of old, full of pirate encounters and other harrowing nautical perils. Strasser's pacing is flawless, and his characters well drawn. While Ishmael's true past is unveiled slowly, readers will find themselves drawn to his obvious bravery and loyalty from the very first page. Additionally, Strasser weaves futuristic technology into an old-fashioned maritime expedition seamlessly, resulting in a setting that feels timeless. Readers need not be familiar with Melville's Moby-Dick to enjoy Strasser's take on it, although those who are should be pleased with the faithful homages.
VERDICT A must-read maritime adventure story for a new generation.

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