Aquifer: Truth Lies Just Below the Surface

( 18 )

Overview

Only He Can Bring What They Need to Survive.

In the year 2250, water is scarce, and those who control it control everything. Sixteen-year-old Luca has struggled with this truth, and what it means, his entire life. As the son of the Deliverer, he will one day have to descend to the underground Aquifer each year and negotiate with the reportedly ratlike miners who harvest the world’s fresh water. But he has learned the true control rests with the Council aboveground, a group that ...

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Aquifer: Truth Lies Just Below the Surface

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Overview

Only He Can Bring What They Need to Survive.

In the year 2250, water is scarce, and those who control it control everything. Sixteen-year-old Luca has struggled with this truth, and what it means, his entire life. As the son of the Deliverer, he will one day have to descend to the underground Aquifer each year and negotiate with the reportedly ratlike miners who harvest the world’s fresh water. But he has learned the true control rests with the Council aboveground, a group that has people following without hesitation, and which has forbidden all emotion and art in the name of keeping the peace. And this Council has broken his father’s spirit, while also forcing Luca to hide every feeling that rules his heart.

But when Luca’s father goes missing, everything shifts. Luca is forced underground, and discovers secrets, lies, and mysteries that cause him to reevaluate who he is and the world he serves. Together with his friends and a very alluring girl, Luca seeks to free his people and the Rats from the Council’s control. But Luca’s mission is not without struggle and loss, as his desire to uncover the truth could have greater consequences than he ever imagined.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Friesen (Aldo's Fantastical Movie Palace) has constructed a future world where fresh water has become exceedingly scarce. Luca is the sixteen-year-old successor to his father, a Deliverer, who makes an annual journey to the underground Rats who control the largest fresh water source: the Aquifer. Luca struggles with daily existence and also with his emotions; emotional expression is punishable by the formidable Amongus, a kind of thought police run by the Council of Nine who rule the Toppers, the people of the surface. When Luca's father does not return from his journey below, the Amongus hunt Luca, so he flees underground for refuge. There he discovers a massive conspiracy that challenges him to reconsider what he thought was true about the world, his identity, and his purpose. Friesen's world is a morally gray one that fleshes out the motivations and struggles of his characters but gives no easy answers for his readers. Though the magnitude of his philosophical questions sometimes feel bigger than the story, Friesen nonetheless offers an entertaining framework for teenage readers to start asking serious questions about emotional responsibility, acting on faith and intuition, the potential blindness of good intentions, and the nature of freedom. (Aug. 6)
VOYA - Blake Norby
Luca lives in a world where emotions are forbidden and the limited water supply is controlled by the "Rat people" who live underground and guard the Aquifer. Luca's father is the Deliverer who travels below once a year to trade light for the promise of water, and since Luca has entered his sixteenth year, he knows he will soon take his father's place. For now, he continues to go to school and tries to avoid the Watchers, who watch people's dials to ensure there are no emotions. Then his father does not return from one of his descents, and Luca is forced into facing the reality of his world and the world of the underground Rat people, where nothing is as he thought. Luca must find a way to save the Aquifer, the Rats, and his world. There are a lot of liberties taken with this story that the reader must be blind to in order to appreciate it completely. There is a brief explanation of why there is a limited supply of water, but what is not explained is how they continue to grow vegetation or raise livestock to eat. There is also the question of why there is a technology that can read people's emotions but not one that can filter salt water from the ocean they live around. The action is entertaining, but there are a lot of conveniences in the story to have things work out just right for Luca. Dystopian fans will enjoy the concept, but discerning readers may find it difficult to appreciate. Reviewer: Blake Norby
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780310731825
  • Publisher: Blink
  • Publication date: 8/6/2013
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 487,335
  • Age range: 13 - 16 Years
  • Product dimensions: 6.70 (w) x 9.90 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Jonathan Friesen is an author, speaker, and youth writing coach from Mora, Minnesota. His first young adult novel, Jerk, California, received the ALA Schneider Award. When he’s not writing, speaking at schools, or teaching, Jonathan loves to travel and hang out with his wife and three kids.

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Read an Excerpt

Aquifer

A Novel


By Jonathan Friesen

BLINK

Copyright © 2013 Jonathan Friesen
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-310-73182-5


CHAPTER 1

Two Years Later


Left, slight jog right, sharp right, left, left ..."

I stand in front of the Australyan Sea and whisper the mantra that is mine alone to remember. Twice a day, I repeat the order, as I have for the last ten years, as I will until the day I die.

"Veer left, lower your head, left again ..."

My mind holds a mystery: directions to a land I've never seen. A land five miles beneath my feet. I kick at the sand.

My journey there is inevitable, but I'm in no hurry to descend that far, to a world of blackness and shadow, where a race known as Water Rats scurry about. Father says that I cannot imagine what lies below, what manner of creatures extract the fresh water our parched planet needs, and pump it, with unseeing eyes, to the surface. This is good. My imagination provides many sleepless nights as it is, and if my nightmares are accurate, when it comes my turn to descend, I will die of fright.

"Nine hundred forty seven paces straight away ..."

The yearly transfer will one day fall to me, the Deliverer's son, as it falls to Father now and fell on his fathers before him. Every seventh day of the seventh month, Father gathers rods of light, descends toward the heart of the earth, and exchanges them with the Rats for a promise — one more year of free-flowing fresh water. For both Toppers and the creatures below, it's a life-giving trade. The Deliverer returns, and the Toppers rejoice.

Father does not.

A successful exchange should please him most of all because it means my father's work is done for the year. Instead, he slumps through the streets of New Pert, his gaze downcast. Citizens avert their eyes. A superstitious lot, they know he is Other and assume that the pained look on his face reveals the enlightened nature of his thoughts.

They don't know he wanders our shoreline in the moonlight searching, waiting — for whom, I do not know. They don't share his burden or hear the forbidden sobs that shake him.

That is mine alone to see. The slow death of a savior.

One day, the territory of New Pert will treat me with the same grim reverence, once my schooling is complete and my childhood no longer extracts from them a greeting. I will then become Other. All because of the directions floating around my mind.

I hope Father lives to one hundred and twenty.

Tonight, Father and I are left to our thoughts and ourselves. A quiet shanty on the sea is our payment for shouldering the weight we bear, the peacemaker's way of rewarding us with just enough privacy to make living bearable.

A gentle breeze crosses my face and heads toward Father's dock, where his boat gently sways. The dock stretches out into the Shallows, a natural gift created by the waves that crash over the reef. Without the sea's fury, water stills and pools in the rocks and coral. This evening it glistens pink beneath a reddening sky.

Father sits on the edge, still as stone, his feet dangling off the dock into the water and his hands stroking his prized possession: hundreds of papers bound in leather. We don't speak of things illegal, but I wonder why he carries it and risks the Amongus's wrath. There are many things I don't understand about Father.

His back is hunched and scarred; his memory is broken. But if I were to go to him, to drop down and place my head on his shoulder, I know what I would hear.

"Left, slight jog right ..."

Ten years ago, Father's debriefing stole his thoughts and muted his feelings, if the rumors be true. Father will not speak of his crime. "She was worth it." It's all he will say, and my questions float away unanswered. I do know the Amongus did not dare touch the order, the precious directions to the Water Rats' world.

I stare out past the thin white reef line. Afrika. Beyond the sea lies Afrika. And beyond it Sowt Amerika. We're taught that people still inhabit those lands, and that remnants of past nations gather around the pipes sent out from our diverters. But a life thousands of miles from the only consistent source of water? Rains are so scarce; that distance so great. How would they tell us if their pipes failed? It's all hard to believe, and I wonder if my best friend Lendi is right: Australya, perched upon the Aquifer, the buried rock bed source of all fresh water, is home to the only Toppers that remain.

I sigh and stare out toward the distant lands, wondering if there is another fifteen-year-old boy staring back at me. I doubt I will ever know. So much water between us.

So much salt water.

"Right ... right ..."

I lose my way in the sequence. Five hundred twelve random turns are difficult for a wandering mind to hold. Yet forgetting is not an option.

"Last march of the undone!"

The cry comes from outside our walls, from down the street. It is loud but emotionless, tearing me from my thoughts.

Father glances toward me, shakes his head, and crawls back inside himself.

Not today. They can't hold a march today, so close to the water exchange!

I run toward the gate and pull. And pull. The heavy wooden doors swing open at last.

People line the street before me. Silent people. Friends and family come to see the guilty one last time. It is one thing to be debriefed, to have one's memory robbed and the past reset. That is for small offenses.

It is quite another to be undone.

From this, there is no return.

Today, the crowd is larger than usual. Though bans on strong emotion are mandated by the PM, and enforced by his Amongus, we are allowed our curious fascination with death. Marches of the undone become little spectacles. Even the young show interest. And where they gather, so also do the carts. Merchants selling treats and drinks — though this near an exchange, the drinks set parents back quite a few credits.

In the distance, a particularly loathsome Watcher approaches. All refer to him as Reaper; all except Father, who has named him Barker. This Amongus is shrill and proud and I hate him. Every ten steps, his voice raises.

"Last march of the undone!"

He strides toward my open gate, face forward, his gaze fixed on me. I cannot bear to stare back. Barker halts, turns, and hollers the lie that haunts my dreams.

"I will now seek the Deliverer's judgment to affirm each sentence. The condemned will wait outside."

The Watchers' plan is brilliant and insidious. Citizens of New Pert dare not argue with the savior of the world, and from appearances, Father and the Amongus work together. After all, the Deliverer who risks his life for all would not condone a sentence imposed without just cause.

If only Barker would actually speak to my father.

I can't help thinking the peacemaker doesn't know. If he and his Council of Nine are as unerring as we're taught, the PM can't possibly know this deceit of his Amongus, his Watchers.

Barker pushes by me, and I stare at the faces standing single file outside the gate. Four men, two women, one child.

One child?

It is rare that a child is undone. Not an Eleven. Not one from my school.

Not Walery.

I've spoken to him twice. There is nothing abrasive about his manner. I can't imagine him causing a wrinkle.

Barker vanishes within our walls, presumably to speak to my father. Only I can see both the Amongus and the accused. Barker stretches and strolls to our water cask. He lifts it and drinks long and deep before setting it down and wiping his brow.

Undoing people must be hard work.

"They're all innocent." Father speaks, his voice barely reaching my ears. "I pronounce them all innocent."

He is, as always, ignored. In this one act, this one compassionate act, the most important man in the world is ignored. Why doesn't he toss his papers into the sea and stand? Why doesn't he break from his darkness and show himself at the gate, where the accused and the onlookers could see his opposition? Barker would have nothing to say.

I don't understand my father.

I glance down the street. Walery's mother stares at me, her chin quavering. Her husband is stoic. I can't stomach their gaze. I back through my gate and duck behind our canoe, because some horrors should not be experienced from out in the open.

"Come in, each of you," Barker calls to the doomed. His voice is calming, hypnotic. Why does he soothe before the kill? Filing in, only Walery looks afraid, not yet resigned to his fate. The gate swings shut, and Barker points at Father. It is a good thing that from a distance the papers are indistinguishable. I don't know how many debriefings my father could stand.

"Your Deliverer, Massa, has sealed your sentences. Helia, you incorrectly coded ten children. Into the boat. You are undone. Jordane, you failed to surrender your child to the Developers. Into the boat. You are undone ..."

Liar! The sentences are a sham. I should have destroyed the Amongus boat anchored in the shallows.

"Walery, for speaking information that could incite rebellion against the PM. Into the boat. You are undone."

Incite rebellion?

I peek over the canoe. All the adults are aboard. Barker turns and marches back toward the gate. Walery stands, frozen in the sand.

"It's time now, Walery." Barker speaks so gently. "Get in with the others. Helia will steer you out to sea."

Walery nods and shuffles toward the Shallows. Barker quickly slips out the gate — his job here is finished. I stand. Furious. Throughout New Pert, it will be believed that my father was responsible for this. He not only gives life, he also takes it away.

But today, I am filled with more; a sense that if I do nothing and watch them go, as I have hundreds of times before, something in me will be undone too. I leap forward and race to Walery.

"Don't get in."

He doesn't look up. "Where should I go?"

It's a fair question. Out of fear, his family will not receive him back.

I pause and stare at Father. He sits on the dock, yet he has never been farther away. The next moments are mine to direct.

"All of you. You don't need to go. My father did not condemn you. You can go right back out the gate."

Helia smiles. "It's all right, Luca. This is our fate. Come, Walery." She holds out her hand.

"Stop! Think. This is not how it has to be. There is nobody watching you."

Jordane's gaze shifts from me to the boat, and he bites his lip. "Maybe —"

"No," Helia says calmly. She grabs Walery's hand.

"Wait!" I say. "I'll take him." I point to Father's boat. "I'll take Walery myself. I want to speak to him before he is undone."

Helia pauses. "Very well." She hands me four shackles. "You are the next Deliverer."

Jordane pulls up anchor, and another boatload of people sail themselves to their end. They will swing around Rottnest Isle, help each other into irons and chains, and jump.

After all, we are a peaceful society.

CHAPTER 2

I stand by Walery and watch the boat fade from sight.

"What do you want to talk about?" Walery asks.

I have not thought ahead that far, and I stare at the sandy-haired Eleven. He is thin, very thin. The shackles I hold would likely slip off his wrists. He looks me in the eye, and I am uncomfortable. Lowers avert their gazes around Uppers. Especially me. But Walery's eyes hold no fear now, though he stands minutes past a certain death.

"I guess we should discuss where you want to sleep." Outside the walls, voices murmur. The remnants of a crowd. "I can't let you leave, at least for a while."

"You aren't going to use those?" He nods toward the chains. "Massa really didn't ..."

I shrug and shake my head.

Walery looks to the sky. "How many others have you and the Deliverer saved like this?"

Inside, I ache. The knot that formed inside me while I hid behind the canoe twists and tightens.

Deliverer. Right. During marches, neither Father nor I are worthy of the name.

"Nobody. I've watched and watched and stopped no one."

Walery's face turns grim. "But you did stop me."

"I did. Now go into the shanty, turn left, and you'll see a small door leading into a storage room. Father never goes in there, and he will be preoccupied tonight. Grab some food and water from the kitchen on your way. I'll come get you when Father is gone."

He stares at me, unsure. "If I'm caught, I'll be undone for certain."

I guide him toward the house. "You already were."

"Luca!"

"Go now!" I hiss, and shove him toward the door. I wait until he disappears inside and then turn. "Yes, Father Massa?"

He massages his forehead and continues his vacant stare out to sea. "Who am I?"

I approach him slowly and call from the beach, "You're my father."

"Why are so few memories with me? What did I do?"

I've heard the story from Lendi's father. Of the day the Amongus sealed off the entire wharf district of New Pert, so monumental was the occasion, so terrible the task. The day the Deliverer was debriefed. What Father had done, of course, Lendi's father did not know. Surely nothing so forbidden as hiding an undone.

"You've never shared your crime, but you're my hero, and a great man. And tomorrow, you'll be great again." It is the reply I've learned to give, the one that quiets him.

Not tonight.

"Yes, but son, have I loved you well?"

My father stands and faces me. Nowhere else in the territory will I hear the word love. It was Father who taught it to me, taught me to guard it, taught me not to fear it.

This word is our word. Mine for you. Yours for me, should you choose it.

I was only five, and newly returned to him after being raised by the Developers for my first years of life. My memory doesn't reach those earliest years; I don't even remember the people who cared for me. But all that matters now is one recollection: Father said he loved me, and at five, I knew the word's meaning, I felt its warmth.

I pad toward the dock, and my father joins me on the shore. He is forty, but already his strength is spent, and the hand he places on my shoulder keeps him aright. Though his face is dark and weathered, his eyes are soft. Gentle eyes peering from beneath dreadlocks, thick and unruly, the distinctive hairstyle of all New Pertians. Yet his face holds no apprehension. There is still a wildness and a freedom his debriefing could not tame. It sets him apart from all others in the territory, including me.

Could the Developers have made an error? Their record keeping is impeccable; it has to be in order to return one hundred thousand babies to the proper parental set five years after those children are born. But there is little of Father in my face.

I am short and weak. The shortest of all my agemates. Father is tall and courageous, even now.

Yes. Short and weak and pale and thin, nothing like him. Perhaps my blond hair and gray eyes came from Mother Alaya, although I will never know. Her name is the only piece of her I will ever own, and she is the one topic Father does not allow me to broach.

I peek at the wall that separates us from our neighbors. Eight feet tall and topped with broken bottles and shards of glass. I strain into the breeze, listening for footsteps outside the gate. No Amongus sensed the emotion in Father's question. We were fortunate. Displays of feeling cause wrinkles, and wrinkles rarely go undetected.

"Yes, Father Massa, you have done very well." I lower my voice and gesture toward the shanty. "But now you need to eat. What would you like?"

He reaches his arm around my shoulder and draws me close, my body a whisper compared to his frame. His eyes are focused and clear. "What is your first memory?"

I pause to think. The question feels safe and neutral. "Darkness."

"Mine too."

"I dream of darkness, Father Massa. But I'm never afraid. I ... I ..."

"Finish, son."

"It feels like safety. I wake peaceful. Is that normal?"

He draws a deep breath. "No, it is not normal. But it is good."

We walk toward the shanty and reach the back porch.

"Turtle soup." Father nods, his voice clear and strong. "I want turtle soup tonight."

I step back. "That will take some time to catch and boil. There are other options."

Father furrows his brow. "Yes, Luca, but is it the sixth of the seventh? It feels like the sixth. I will be reciting all night. Bring it to my cot."

I watch my father disappear through the door. Inside, no orbs are lit — a comfort with darkness is the one trait both Father and I share. Walery will be safe, but Father's request means I will not see Walery for hours. He will certainly be afraid when I do, though he likely will not know how to show it.

I slump toward the boat.

Why did he have to ask for turtles?


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Aquifer by Jonathan Friesen. Copyright © 2013 Jonathan Friesen. Excerpted by permission of BLINK.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 18 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(3)

4 Star

(7)

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(4)

2 Star

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Sort by: Showing all of 17 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 20, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Kept me turning pages, but story felt a little flat I have ment

    Kept me turning pages, but story felt a little flat

    I have mentioned before that I like to read dystopian fantasy books (see my review of The Fifth Wave), and Aquifer once again fits this category. In the future author Jonathan Friesen presents, the Earth no longer bears fresh water on its surface. The only water safe for human consumption lies below the ground, hidden in an aquifer (hence the title), which is guarded by a race of humans who have devolved to the state of being called “Rats.” Only one person ventures down to visit the rats, and he is called the “Deliverer.” Once a year, the Deliverer follows a path that only exists in his brain through rote memorization from his forefathers and exchanges light rods with the Rats for the promise of another year’s access to water. The story follows Luca, a sixteen-year-old boy who is next in line to be the Deliverer behind his own father, Massa. Luca, and all other humans on the surface, live in a police state where they are not allowed to have any emotions or show any sign of rebellion against the set order or they will be “undone” (forced to kill themselves). But Luca senses he is different from his peers, and when his father goes missing and Luca must keep the connection with the Rats to save the Earth, he learns why he has always felt apart from others. He learns much else that blows the lid off the current state of the world as well when he descends to the world of the Rats.




    I thought this book had an interesting premise and I was eager to find out about the underworld and the Rat people who lived there. The idea reminded me of the Morlocks in H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine, and I wanted to see what this author had done with a similar construct. Friesen presents a nice twist on the subterranean culture, which I will not reveal here, that sets this book apart. I enjoyed reading the story as it did contain many turns, much like Luca’s memorized route, they kept me turning pages. Teens may find Luca relatable as he is a teenager struggling with his place in the world and feeling different than everyone else around him. The other characters help move the story forward and cause changes in Luca, just as good characters should. My only complaint was that sometimes the Australian phrases thrown in seemed forced. 




    I should also address the fact that this story is printed by a Christian publisher. However, the Christian elements are few and hardly noticeable. Depending on what the reader is expecting, this could be a good or bad thing. There is no mention of God or Jesus, though Luca is guided by a voice that is never identified. There is a book Luca finds that is more important than any other, and when quoted, it is The Bible, though not identified (the characters wouldn’t know what that was).  Because the story is a bit ambiguous, it could easily have a wider appeal among non-Christians as well as Christian readers.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 14, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Although there were some plot points that I feel could have been

    Although there were some plot points that I feel could have been fleshed out a bit more, this was an enjoyable, thought-provoking storyline with an element of spirituality that was not expected. Luca was a character that the YA reader will identify with and ultimately care for by the end of the book. I thoroughly enjoyed how the author described this dystopian future of a world without freshwater on Earth’s surface and a tenable hold on a limited supply underground. It takes place on and around the coast of Australia. It wasn’t fully explained how the world came to be in such a state, but that was likely due to the lack of knowledge of Luca, who tells the story in first person narrative. In this world, the written word had all but been destroyed, as it is seen as a method that could incite rebellion. This was understandable, once the reader learned the extent of Luca’s and his fellow New Pertian’s figurative and sometimes literal imprisonment.

    The religious undertones are subtle throughout, and although God, the Bible, and Jesus Christ are never mentioned, they are hinted at often. That was a pleasant surprise for me, since it isn’t billed as Christian literature, and that may be in order to market to a larger YA population. However, some of the hints are so subtle, some YA readers may not make the connection if they’ve never been exposed to church or the story of Christ. The only religious connection actually named is the song Talya sings near the end. The story ends with some questions and many other reviewers have assumed it means there is a sequel. I didn’t immediately jump to that conclusion, and I’m not sure if one is planned or not. I felt as though the questions are more for the reader to ask him or herself, and complete the story in their own mind. Overall, an enjoyable read, and I would continue the story if sequels are written at some point.

    Rating: 4

    HEAT Rating: None

    Reviewed By: Daysie W.

    Review Courtesy of: My Book Addiction and More

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 14, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Don't miss out on this unique, fascinating story set in the year

    Don't miss out on this unique, fascinating story set in the year 2250, where drinkable water is hard to find and feelings and art are forbidden! The Council monitors emotion and lethally enforces their rule. Once a year the Deliverer travels down a long and winding path into the heart of the earth to exchange light rods for water with the rats, once human creatures who guard an aquifer, the only fresh water available on earth. Sixteen-year-old Luca, as his son, knows that one day he will take his father's place, but didn't believe it would be so soon. His father doesn't return from his journey and Luca starts to question what he believes to be true. Along with an unlikely group of friends, he retreats underground to make the journey himself to find out what has happened. What he discovers will change everything as he tries to save both worlds.

    I haven't read much dystopian fiction yet, except mainly the Hunger Games, which I loved, and I find this genre fascinating. I really enjoyed this story and thought the author did a good job of making me sympathize with Luca and really, all of humanity for the type of world they live in. There was a lot of action as someone always seemed to be after Luca and his group and some sadness, but there are also happy moments and ultimately, the story is filled with hope. There's a bit of a spiritual side to the story, which I enjoyed and would have liked to see more of. This is geared toward young adults, but I think any adult would enjoy this if they like unique stories, especially along the lines of the Hunger Games.

    I received a free ARC copy from Zondervan in exchange for an honest review.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 10, 2013

    Exceptional. A book that made me think! Finally.

    Exceptional. A book that made me think! Finally.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 9, 2013

    Awesome!

    Awesome!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 7, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Aquifer By Jonathan Friesen Truth lies just below the surface..

    Aquifer
    By Jonathan Friesen

    Truth lies just below the surface....

    Water is a scarcity in 2250, and for generations one family alone has known the
    path to the only source of water.  The water lies deep below the surface guarded
    by a mutated race of beings known as Water Rats. This is Luca's destiny - to
    become the next Deliverer. 

    Emotion is forbidden.  Art is illegal.  Freedom is outlawed. Possession of books is
    unheard of.  And to break the law is to risk being undone!

    One the day that Luca turns 16, something goes wrong and the role of Deliverer falls
    on him before he is ready.  The secret that Luca carries in his head is the only hope for
    a world that depends on the annual negotiations for water.  Having never completed this
    trip into the unknown except in his mind Luca struggles to control his fears as his world
    is about to come undone.  With time running out can Luca find the Aquifer before the
    world above falls into chaos?

    The world of the Water Rats is something that Luca's father never told him about and nothing
    prepares him for the unknown world that he is about to enter.  But someone wants the
    knowledge that Luca guards and they will do anything to get it.  Relying on the help of new
    acquaintances and a inner Voice Luca is in a race against time and the Amongus to keep
    the water flowing to the world of the Toppers. 

    Aquifer is page turning excitement that you won't want to put down.  Not only will you want to
    re-read it again, but you'll want to share it with all your friends!  Add it to your want to read list
    today, you won't regret the time you spent reading it.

    This is not your normal YA fare.  Clean excitement that thrill teens and parents alike!

    I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher Blink / Zondervan through Z Street Team
    in exchange for my honest review.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 6, 2013

    Imagine living in a world without fresh water when you turn on t

    Imagine living in a world without fresh water when you turn on the tap. Imagine living a life of total control, where fear, anger, and love are prohibited; a land where children are “taken, developed, and returned;” a land where books are banned. This is sixteen-year-old Luca’s world in 2250.
    Author Jonathan Friesen’s YA novel, AQUIFER, explores a world where people are not always who they seem and one misspoken word or action can prove fatal. To have water, the Deliverer goes to the underground Aquifer once a year and trades rods of light with the feared Water Rat people that control the Aquifer. Luca’s father is the Deliverer, and when he does not return from his journey seeking water, Luca must take his place. Not only does Luca worry about his father, he has just turned sixteen and knows nothing about how to even reach the Aquifer, yet he must complete the task of going underground and bringing water to his world or everyone will die.
    AQUIFER is a story of lies, family secrets, and betrayal. It’s also a story of friendship and learning to trust. Are the Rat people friends or enemies? Are they so different to the people that live aboveground? When Luca meets Talya, a Rat girl, she stirs feelings inside him he’s never before felt. He begins to question what he’s been told his whole life. Is one world better than the other? Both worlds have their problems. Luca soon must make a choice. What he decides could destroy everything and everyone he loves and believes in.
    The author’s vivid imagery places the reader in the story with Luca and his friends. The darkness of the caves closes around you, and the water threatens to suck you under. You hear the screams of the people, struggling simply to survive. The tenderness of Luca and Talya as they discover first love makes you want life to turn out good for them. But the odds for their happiness are slim. AQUIFER would make a great addition to high school libraries and classrooms for a discussion on our natural resources and what might happen to them someday, if we don‘t conserve them. You’ll also want a copy for your own library, to remember how precious, not only our water is, but truth and friendship, as well. I’m looking forward to continuing Luca’s journey to see what happens to his world.
    ###

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 3, 2013

    I would say that this was an okay book.  This was not a book tha

    I would say that this was an okay book.  This was not a book that if I needed to, I could put it down and not sit wondering what would happen next.  At times, yes it did have a quick story line, but overall it seemed to move slowly.

    What had originally interested me was the fact that this was a "futuristic" book.  It takes place about 240 years from now, and the world has only one source water, the Aquifer.  And the only way to get the water is to exchange light for the water.   It seems like it could be potentially good, but to me the story didn't move fast enough and did not have me invested in the characters enough.  Normally, if I really like a book, I can sit down and read it in a day or two.  This book, took me over a week to read, and it's not even that big.    

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 25, 2013

    Aquifer: Truth Lies Just Below The Surface by Jonathan Friesen i

    Aquifer: Truth Lies Just Below The Surface by Jonathan Friesen is an unique tale with deception, love, freedom, and faith combined into one package. While I did enjoy this book, it was missing the emotional attachment that is necessary for any truly gripping book. I found myself scanning the pages wondering when it would be over. But over all it was a fairly well written book, with little to no grammatical or spelling errors. Aquifer followed the basic plot of literature and had no monumental plot twist, leaving me hungry for more of an edge of your seat read. I did enjoy the characters and their personalities though. I would recommend this book for someone looking for a quick read or a unique story to do a book report on.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 15, 2014

    Wow, I did not like this book. I will admit that going into this

    Wow, I did not like this book. I will admit that going into this book I wasn't aware that this was a pubbed by a religious publisher, but I also read Doon by the same publisher and didn't dislike it as much as I did this one. There is a difference between a religious book and an overly religious one that beats you over the head with it which this one did.

    I really thought the concept of this book was going to be interesting, but in the end the follow through was a mess. Luca was this privileged pain in the ass through the entire book. Not only that but while he was supposed to be the prophet and savior, he was so selfish believing that everyone should do things for him. There were a few times that he did try to do something good, but it hardly seemed like his motive to do those things were all his own.

    This book really beat you over the head with the religious tones. Not just that, but there was instalove out the ass and ugh. Its actually hard to talk about the problems that were in this book. I also hated the totally misogynistic view that this book took towards women. When we were finally introduced to a love interest, she had to listen to everything that he said, and she was hardly entitled to her opinion, and she was so dumb.

    All in all, this book was an aggravating waste of time, and I wish I had paid better attention to who the publisher was. I will admit that this book is one that was just not for me, but could do it for someone else.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 30, 2014

    I received a copy of AQUIFER by Jonathan Friesen from Thomas Nel

    I received a copy of AQUIFER by Jonathan Friesen from Thomas Nelson via BookSneeze. I was thrilled at the chance to read it, as I’d seen the book in Barnes and Noble, and fell in love with it. The cover caught my attention first – you can feel the raised bubbles – and the synopsis stole me away. Water is scarce and those who control it are in charge. It sounded like a great futuristic young adult novel. Then, a friend recommended I read it. She’s obsessed with dystopian stories so she reads a lot of them, but she only tells me about the winners.

    So, there I was, with a copy of the book in hand. I was gripped from the prologue forward. The action was nonstop, mixed in with mystery, and the characters were riveting. The only downside I found involved the descriptions. At times, I had trouble picturing what was going on. Since this was a whole new “world,” I would have liked to be immersed more. The first part of the story did set the stage well – I must admit, it did drag at times – but I couldn’t picture the setting or the characters, or what exactly they looked like.

    I recommend this to dystopian fans, and I will definitely look for more of his work.

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  • Posted January 28, 2014

    I enjoy apocalyptic style fiction, and because of the storyline

    I enjoy apocalyptic style fiction, and because of the storyline (lack of water in the future), this one caught my attention. This is a young adult book, but adults can enjoy it too. Whether you also find the storyline interesting, or you're just looking for a good book for your teen to read, this one is a great choice. Set in the area where Australia would be today, I enjoyed it a lot.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 24, 2014

    Aquifer by Janathan Friesen was a pleasant change from the usual

    Aquifer by Janathan Friesen was a pleasant change from the usual distopian novels. This author has great imagination and isn't afraid to write something a little different from the current "top rated books".
    The life of a deliverer is not all it appears. Generations of one family that goes below once a year to form an agreement to supply water to the "toppers". Above everyone is told lies to keep emotions in check and daily lifestyle uniform. Until one day everything changes and all that has been becomes the biggest wrinkle commited.
    I thought this was a wonderful story, sometimes confusing but easy to follow for a more advanced reader. Reading this made me want to watch Waterworld, oh how I love that movie! This book is labeled teen fiction but I would put this at more of a college light read. It wasn't inappropriate at all but just has a lot going on. If you are unfamiliar with water systems or government this book would appear more fantasy when realisticly we aren't so far off.
    All in all, this was enjoyable. I wonderful winter read as it wasn't particularly depressing nor was it making you miss the beach!
    This book was provided free of charge by booksneeze in exchange for an honest review, everything I have written are my own words and my honest thoughts.

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  • Posted January 23, 2014

    Pros:  I enjoy dystopian books, and one reason that made Aquifer

    Pros:  I enjoy dystopian books, and one reason that made Aquifer jump out at me was its setting, which is Australia.  I think there are enough books written about dystopian America, so it was great for another country to be featured.  The "problem" in the dystopian world of Aquifer was different, too: lack of water.  I liked Luca's characters mainly because he is very brave and eager to do the right thing.  I think he sets a good example for kids reading this book.

    Cons:  So, was this book an equal to the Hunger Games? No.  Why? Because Aquifer's plot and events were very confusing.  I found myself getting lost, especially at the beginning, as there are flashbacks of past events.  I had to read some sections twice to figure out why the characters were going where they were going.  Also, the book was basically all dialogue, with no background information.  It is told from Luca's perspective, so that may be what limited background info, but I feel like Luca could have revealed a little more past than he did.

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  • Posted December 22, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Jonathan Friesen in his new book, ¿Aquifer¿ published by Blink i

    Jonathan Friesen in his new book, “Aquifer” published by Blink introduces us to Luca.




    From the back cover:  Only He Can Bring What They Need to Survive.




    In the year 2250, water is scarce, and those who control it control everything. Sixteen-year-old Luca has struggled with this truth, and what it means, his entire life. As the son of the Deliverer, he will one day have to descend to the underground Aquifer each year and negotiate with the reportedly ratlike miners who harvest the world’s fresh water. But he has learned the true control rests with the Council aboveground, a group that has people following without hesitation, and which has forbidden all emotion and art in the name of keeping the peace. And this Council has broken his father’s spirit, while also forcing Luca to hide every feeling that rules his heart.




    But when Luca’s father goes missing, everything shifts. Luca is forced underground, and discovers secrets, lies, and mysteries that cause him to reevaluate who he is and the world he serves. Together with his friends and a very alluring girl, Luca seeks to free his people and the Rats from the Council’s control. But Luca’s mission is not without struggle and loss, as his desire to uncover the truth could have greater consequences than he ever imagined.




    The quest is on.  Luca’s father is missing and now Luca must not only find him but also deal with the subterranean group called the “rats” for another year’s worth of water.    I think this is great Science Fiction.  The theme of society is played out with those above, who need the water, those below, who supply the water and the one person with direct contact with both levels.  Since the link between the two societies is vital why is someone trying to kill Luca and made his father go missing?  Watching the story all play out as Luca has to stay alive, bring the light to the “rats” to ensure there is water for another year and, also, find his father.  ”Aquifer” is full of twists and turns just like the path from the surface down below.  Luca is a warm and likable character and we get engaged in his life.  This is an exciting book, extremely well paced and highly thought provoking.




    Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book for free from Blink through the BookSneeze.book review bloggers program.   I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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  • Posted November 5, 2013

    It¿s about likeability and I¿m not sure this book had it.  AQUIF

    It’s about likeability and I’m not sure this book had it.  AQUIFER’s characters, setting, and plot were both gritty and ugly.  The way the story is told, however, causes the reader to believe the story is much more shallow and unfinished than it actually is.
    I worry that for some readers, the filled plot holes at the end of the book might be too late to salvage the story.  Without giving away too much of the twist, I can say that the world building is intentionally designed to feel fake.  There’s a layer of world building beneath the one the reader is introduced to in the beginning chapters, yet I don’t know if all the aspects of that world are explained thoroughly enough.
    My perception of the book was that it has a handle of scenes with striking similarities to THE GIVER (such as the boy learning a dangerous secret when he inherits his new position in society), yet as a whole it delivers quite a different message.  I can’t say that I enjoyed how the story evolved, though it was thoroughly unpredictable from start to finish.  Some of the minor characters felt like plot devices rather than people and it’s a shame than their lack of depth restricted how much the main characters could develop.
    I’m sure that this will be a book enjoyed by some and not liked by others.  Without giving away the ending, I can’t pinpoint exactly what type of people will love this book.  What I can say is that AQUIFER most certainly ventures outside of what is expected of the YA dystopian genre.

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  • Posted October 9, 2013

    (Source: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a re

    (Source: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to Zonderkidz-Books and Netgalley.)
    15-year-old Luca lives in a world where water is scarce. His father is the water deliverer, who must go below ground to obtain fresh water for the people of the town in which he lives.


    I can’t give much more of a summary for this book, because I found it really hard to work out what the hell was going on.
    We started off with some woman being found in shackles and drowned, then moved on to Luca. We were told a little about how there was a lack of water, and that previously some people had discovered water below the earth, and those people now lived and bred down there, and were now called rats. Once a year the deliverer went down there, and exchanged ‘rods of light’ for another year of clean fresh water.
    Luca’s father was not all there though, he has previously had his memories wiped, and seemed a bit nuts. When he then went off to do the exchange, the people who governed them – the ‘Amongus’ tell Luca that his father has been retired, but Luca then finds out that he has actually been ‘undone’ (this involves shackles being attached to the arms and legs, and then the person jumps into the sea and drowns – no I don’t know why they do this, but it is apparently a more peaceful way to kill someone). This means that Luca is now the new deliverer.

    Anyway, there were just so many things going on that weren’t explained in this book that it made it super confusing. The people talked about their ‘dials’, and said that their dials ‘wiggled’. As far as I could make out, these dials must have been implanted or something, and these dials allowed the Amongus to tell when they were lying or experiencing strong emotion? Not very clear and not well explained at all.

    When we did then get some information about how this world came to be, we got an info dump, and there still wasn’t enough information to really know what was going on. We got a story about the world flooding and everyone except for one family being killed, which sounds to me an awful lot like the story of Noah and the Ark from the Christian faith. Not sure if this was intentional, or whether this book was supposed to have some sort of religious connotations or what, but that’s what it seemed like to me.

    These were just a couple of the things that bothered me about this book, but there were more, and this book just became unreadable for me. After struggling with it, I eventually gave up having gotten so frustrated and confused that I couldn’t take it anymore.
    I think this could be a good story, if there was more world building and better explanation of things, but as it is I really couldn’t enjoy it.
    Overall; confusing and poor world building.
    4 out of 10.

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