This is my first review and I am excited that it is for a Rick Riordan book (because it’s the book I happened to be reading this week). I first read a Percy Jackson book because my 9-year-old son wanted me to read it, so we could talk about it together. After reading the first chapter, I found myself compelled to read the next and the next, needing to know what happens to Percy. And then I read through the rest of the series, then Magnus Chase, and then the Kane Chronicles. The irreverent tone of the narrators, the clever riffs on different mythologies, and emotional stakes – I really enjoy the storytelling, even though I’m way way (way) older than the target audience. Also, as I read through Riordan’s books, I really appreciated the thought that went into presenting diverse characters. So, yes, I was enthusiastic to get my hands on “Daughter of the Deep” and tore right through it.
Riordan explains in the introduction that he was interested in developing a story that connects to Jules Verne’s “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.” I’ve never read that classic, although of course I’d heard of Captain Nemo. This was the first time that I learned that in Verne’s books, Captain Nemo’s backstory is that he was the son of an Indian raja, whose family was killed by the British, and that he had an intense hatred for imperialism. That made me quite intrigued. “Daughter of the Deep” tells the story of Ana Dakkar, a student at Harding-Pencroft Academy, which is a high school that trains students to be elite maritime scientists, engineers, warriors and explorers. Ana finds out that her high school has been in a decades-long war with the Land Institute. As with other Riordan books, Ana has to figure out how to navigate extreme and sometimes tragic circumstances. There is amazing underwater technology, strong friendships and lots of humor. I especially enjoyed the latter part of the book, as Ana and her group of friends have to decide what kind of leaders and warriors they want to be. The final passages grapple with questions of forgiveness and hope in a way that I found truly moving.