Title: Daughter of the Deep
Author: Rick Riordan
Genre: YA, Science Fiction
Published: October 26th, 2021 (Disney-Hyperion)
Synopsis: 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.
Ana Dakkar is a freshman at Harding-Pencroft Academy, a specialized high school that trains students for careers in marine fields. The freshman class heads out for the important weekend trial at sea that will determine their future in the school, but no sooner are they off campus when the school comes under attack and is completely destroyed by their rival school, Land Institute. With the enemy in close pursuit, Ana and her classmates make for a hidden island refuge. Along the way, they discover the true purpose behind Harding-Pencroft Academy and the hidden legacy they have safeguarded for over a century, and Ana – and her heritage – play a pivotal role in it all.
Though this type of book is a departure from the usual for Rick Riordan, I had very high expectations of it, and was also quite intrigued to see how his first standalone novel would be. Daughter of the Deep is an imaginative retelling of Jules Verne’s 20000 Leagues Under The Sea, a book, along with Verne’s other works, that I’ve always been fond of. In fact, it was probably the first sci-fi novel I ever read. A well written and action-packed adventure, with a twist I definitely did not see coming, this was leagues better than anything I imagined a retelling of this novel could be like.
I think one of the best parts about this book is that you don’t have to read 20000 Leagues Under the Sea to understand it, and it’s still an enjoyable read. Of course, having read the original adds a whole new perspective to the book, as knowing the background of Captain Nemo and the Nautilus illustrates how Riordan has taken the story to a whole new level – and so effectively at that!
Ana was a great narrator and it was inspiring to see this untried teenager rise to fill the role of a leader and learn to make tough calls in dire circumstances. I really liked how despite there being only one narrator, we got to know all the characters to some extent and the diverse cast was wonderful.
This was overall an entertaining read, but I found a few things to be a little unrealistic. It felt like Ana recovered awfully fast from seeing her entire school blown up, especially since her brother was in there too, and while the pacing of the book doesn’t allow the story to linger there too long, I thought it should have taken the time to do so.
The climax was extremely well done, though I did feel that the ending itself left a lot of things up in the air. While this appears to be a standalone novel, I wouldn’t say no to more books set in this world. I’m also really curious to see if Rick Riordan is going to be re-imagining other such sci-fi classics! Reading this book actually brought to mind the Journey to the Center of the Earth and The Mysterious Island movies, both of which I loved and it would be great to see more stories along this line. Highly recommended!
Have you read this book? Let me know in the comments below!