Middle Grade Review: Daughter of the Deep (Rick Riordan)



About This Book:

New York Times #1 best-selling author Rick Riordan pays homage to Jules Verne in his exciting modern take on 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

“If you have ever craved a story that will leave your heart racing, your lungs gasping from the numerous twists and turns, your soul heaving from the effort of now carrying an ensemble cast, you will find all that and more in these pages.”–New York Times best-selling author Roshani Chokshi

Ana Dakkar is a freshman at Harding-Pencroft Academy, a five-year high school that graduates the best marine scientists, naval warriors, navigators, and underwater explorers in the world. Ana’s parents died while on a scientific expedition two years ago, and the only family’s she’s got left is her older brother, Dev, also a student at HP. Ana’s freshman year culminates with the class’s weekend trial at sea, the details of which have been kept secret. She only hopes she has what it’ll take to succeed. All her worries are blown out of the water when, on the bus ride to the ship, Ana and her schoolmates witness a terrible tragedy that will change the trajectory of their lives.

But wait, there’s more. The professor accompanying them informs Ana that their rival school, Land Institute, and Harding-Pencroft have been fighting a cold war for a hundred and fifty years. Now that cold war has been turned up to a full broil, and the freshman are in danger of becoming fish food. In a race against deadly enemies, Ana will make amazing friends and astounding discoveries about her heritage as she puts her leadership skills to the test for the first time.

Rick Riordan’s trademark humor, fast-paced action, and wide cast of characters are on full display in this undersea adventure.

Complete your middle grade action-adventure collection with these titles:
Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer
Rick Riordan Presents: Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi
Rick Riordan Presents: City of the Plague God by Sarwat Chadda


*Review Contributed by Connie Reid, Site Manager*

Modern 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
What Worked: Daughter of the Deep is a bit of a departure from Rick Riordan’s other books. It is based on 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea mixed with a modern story instead of myths and legends.
Ana Dakkar is a Freshman at Harding-Pencroft academy. She thinks she is leaving for a weekend to pass her freshman trials at sea. However, there is a betrayer at the academy that helps their rival school, Land Institute, bypass security and destroy the academy once she leaves.
Ana and her fellow freshman are put in an impossible situation. They don’t have time to grieve the friends, teachers, and siblings lost. They are now on the run from Land Institute. She learns the events in 20,000 Leagues under the sea are mostly real and she is the descendent of Captain Nemo. She learns that Captain Nemo developed advanced technologies that would destabilize world powers if the alt-tech gets into the wrong hands. Ana must come to terms with the fact that the technology will only work with her DNA, and she’s the last Dakkar to operate it making her the #1-person Land Institute wants.
All of these stretches of the imagination are acknowledged as Ana learns about it along with the audience. It does help the story become more believable. Her friends are supportive as they band together and face their situation. She finds a new appreciation for her classmates as they all put aside their grief and disbelief to seek a positive outcome to their situation.
What Left Me Wanting More: There isn’t much justice at the end. Land Institute is guilty of murder and destruction of property, but since they can’t reveal the classified technology to seek convictions in a court of law, they just let them go. It was a bit surprising who ended up being the betrayer, and just added to the emotional turmoil Ana must deal with, which was unfortunate.
Final Verdict: The story is engaging and well told. Ana’s inner dialogue allowed for the humor that Rick Riordan’s books are known for, given that the situation was dire otherwise. The purpose of the story was to tie in 20,000 leagues Under the Sea to this tale, but in some ways, a different premise would have been more believable as Ana and her crew navigate amazing technology beyond even modern knowledge.

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