The Vanishing Deep

Putnam. Mar. 2020. 432p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780525513957.
Gr 7 Up–Recovering from the deaths of her parents and older sister Elysea and struggling to make ends meet in a world long submerged, 17-year-old Tempest has grown tough and self-sufficient. Trading grief for anger after hearing that Elysea caused their parents’ deaths, Tempe is determined to gain answers by temporarily resurrecting her sister at the medical center on Palindromena. However, when Elysea reveals that their parents may still be alive, their time together becomes a race to evade capture and find their parents before Elysea’s 24 hours of life run out. In the meantime, Elysea’s warden Lor must chase the sisters across the Untied Sea, dodging storms and Remoran pirates while dealing with his own personal demons. If he doesn’t catch up and convince the sisters to return to Palindromena in time, he risks losing his own life instead. Told in chapters alternately narrated by Tempe and Lor, this is an immersive, fast-paced story about survival, grief, guilt, and second chances. One strength of the novel is that it manages to keep Tempe and Lor’s narrative voices distinct. The author also resists focusing solely on romance, instead letting Tempe’s family bond take center stage. Unfortunately, a compelling world and quick pacing cannot save this book from reliance on scientific impossibilities (the mechanics of resurrection are hazy and convoluted) and an ending that is sure to be divisive.
VERDICT Recommended for pre-teen and teen readers who are willing to ignore the story’s logical short-comings for the sake of a fast-paced aquatic adventure.

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