The Fires Beneath the Sea

( 2 )

Overview

Kirkus Reviews: Best of 2011

A Junior Library Guild Selection

Selected for the ABC Best Books for Children Catalog

"A lush and intelligent opener for a topical eco-fantasy series."—Kirkus Reviews, starred review

In the first of the Dissenters series, Cara’s mother has disappeared. Her father isn’t talking about it. Her big brother Max is hiding behind his iPod, and her genius...

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Overview

Kirkus Reviews: Best of 2011

A Junior Library Guild Selection

Selected for the ABC Best Books for Children Catalog

"A lush and intelligent opener for a topical eco-fantasy series."—Kirkus Reviews, starred review

In the first of the Dissenters series, Cara’s mother has disappeared. Her father isn’t talking about it. Her big brother Max is hiding behind his iPod, and her genius little brother Jackson is busy studying the creatures he collects from the beach. But when a watery specter begins to haunt the family’s Cape Cod home, Cara and her brothers realize that their scientist mother may not be who they thought she was—and that the world has much stranger, much older inhabitants than they had imagined.

With help from Cara’s best friend Hayley, the three embark on a quest that will lead them from the Cape’s hidden, ancient places to a shipwreck at the bottom of the sea. They’re soon on the front lines of an ancient battle between good and evil, with the terrifying “pouring man” close on their heels.

Packed with memorable characters and thrilling imagery, Lydia Millet weaves a page-turning adventure even as she brings the seaside world of Cape Cod to magical life. The first in a series of books about the Sykes children, The Fires Beneath the Sea is a rip-cracking middle-grade novel that will make perfect beach reading—for readers of any age!

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“An intriguing mix of everyday activities and the otherworldly, The Fires Beneath the Sea pulls readers in. Cara is a likable character who has been put in the uncomfortable position of trying to save her family and help her mother with a mission way beyond the ability of most tweens. Her bravery and fierce love will cause readers to long for her to succeed. A well-done beginning, with some riveting moments and frightening escapes, to what should prove to be a popular series.”—School Library Journal

“A thoughtful and thought-provoking beginning to a new fantasy series. The Cape Cod woods, wildlife, and beaches are depicted with loving detail, and the dark forces arrayed against the young protagonists are at once tantalizingly mystifying and alarmingly timely.”—Patricia McKillip

“Lydia Millet knows the sea like a selkie. The Fires Beneath the Sea smells of salt and tastes of mist, and that beauty speaks as strongly as its story of peril and hope for the future of our fragile world.”—Kathe Koja, author of Talk

School Library Journal
Gr 4–6—In her first novel for children, Millet introduces readers to 13-year-old Cara; her brilliant 10-year-old brother, Jackson; her popular 16-year-old brother, Max; and her history professor father, who live on Cape Cod. Her mother, a well-known marine biologist, disappeared a few months earlier. The family is grieving yet still hopeful for her return. While swimming in the ocean, Cara meets a sea otter that mysteriously communicates with her, giving her the following message: "Take care of them for me." Cara is both frightened and thrilled as she is sure this animal is somehow linked to her mother. In subsequent chapters, there is an increase in odd happenings and terrifying encounters with the Pouring Man, a deadly creature that takes different forms, including becoming the children's doubles to gain entry into their house, and is seemingly intent on destroying Cara's family. An intriguing mix of everyday activities and the otherworldly, The Fires Beneath the Sea pulls readers in. Cara is a likable character who has been put in the uncomfortable position of trying to save her family and help her mother with a mission way beyond the ability of most tweens. Her bravery and fierce love will cause readers to long for her to succeed. A well-done beginning, with some riveting moments and frightening escapes, to what should prove to be a popular series.—Kathy Kirchoefer, Prince Georges County Memorial Library System, New Carrollton, MD
Kirkus Reviews

Nature and science in a vivid Cape Cod setting create layers of meaning as 13-year-old Cara and her brothers confront the puzzle of their mother's disappearance.

Mom vanished two months ago, and summer's ending. While swimming in the ocean, Cara spots a sea otter—but sea otters don't belong on Atlantic beaches. Cara reaches out her fingertips, and the otter streams words into Cara's mind: "TAKE CARE OF THEM FOR ME." The next morning, on a bayside beach (across the Cape from the ocean beach), she sees the otter again—or another one—and Cara's dog picks up a piece of driftwood inscribed "CARA. CONSULT THE LEATHERBACK." Ten-year-old brother Jax, a genius with odd ESP gifts, communes with the aquarium's leatherback turtle; 16-year-old brother Max, a skeptic, needs coaxing but joins the mission too. A man stalks them, water flowing continuously out of his face; he arrives, horribly, through faucets and lawn sprinklers. In a stunning and luminescent scene, Cara and Jax confront the Pouring Man on the ocean floor. Their quest has three levels: a personal level about their missing mother, an ecological level about ocean acidification and an epic level about good and evil that the kids don't understand yet. Millet's prose is lyrically evocative ("the rhythmic scoop and splash of their paddles").

A lush and intelligent opener for a topical eco-fantasy series. (Fantasy. 9-13)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781931520478
  • Publisher: Small Beer Press
  • Publication date: 4/3/2012
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 256
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.56 (w) x 7.34 (h) x 0.74 (d)

Meet the Author

Lydia Millet

Lydia Millet is the author of six previous novels, including My Happy Life, which won the 2003 PEN-USA Award for Fiction, and Oh Pure and Radiant Heart, which was short-listed for the Arthur C. Clarke Award. Her short story collection Love in Infant Monkeys was a 2010 Pulitzer Prize finalist.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2012

    My daughter loved it!

    My 13-yr-old avid reader (enjoyed Hunger Games, Matched & Harry Potter series & all Judy Blume) said she loved reading this book. She's looking forward to the next one. I'm glad I found another title to feed her reading.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 18, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Gripping story

    The Fires Beneath the Sea is an engrossing novel by Lydia Millet. The book is an intelligent mix of mythical and reality. It tells the story of three siblings who are dealing with the aftermath of their mothers disappearance. The story focuses on the two younger siblings, 13 year old Cara and 10 year old Jax, but 16 year old Max is also included in the story. The setting of the story is on the cape, with all of the kids being interested in the water or wilderness in some respect. Jax, the youngest, is adopted and is a known genius that has trouble hanging out with kids his own age. Cara is more quiet and believes that she is ordinary next to smart Jax and her athletic brother. Max struggles with normal teenage problems, but tries to keep it together for the family, and he alone can see the impact their mother's disappearance has on their father.

    The story begins with the kids surviving a difficult summer after their mother disappears. The police were called in, but it was assumed that her mother had run away to be with another man, but both the kids and their father know that it is not so. The situation remains a mystery until Cara swims into the ocean and comes face to face with a sea otter who somehow communicates a message to her about keeping her family safe. Shaken, she tells what happens to Jax and they soon become embroiled in an age old battle. Max becomes involved when he realizes that something is going on with the younger two. He strives to keep everyone safe while attempting not to feel too disbelieving about the whole situation.

    The story is not just a floppy kid story with no real substance, but focused on important concepts such as global warming and the all to real aspect of parents getting separated or divorced. It has well-rounded, real feeling characters that are sympathetic, kids that are not fully understanding of what is going on, and are struggling to figure out this new world that they live in. The slow growth of the characters, especially Cara, the narrator is evident in the way that they slowly begin to understand that their father has been suffering along with them. The way that the siblings bond together, especially when Max joins the story, is particularly endearing. The story moves along at a quick pace, and is something that kids will want to dig into. Overall this book is very well put together and has important issues that are embedded in the story but do not detract from the overall story line. I am interested in reading the next installment of the series!

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