A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Lots of technology discussed (real, imagined, and emerging) and how it works, in basic terms. Mentions of cold fusion, AI, ways to block radar and sonar, and more. How to command a ship and a submarine and how a crew works together on board. Many mentions of Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues under the Seaand its main characters, especially Captain Nemo, the narrator Pierre Aronnax, and Ned Land, a Canadian harpooner.
Strong messages about the value of teamwork, friendship, ingenuity, and integrity. Also, menstrual cramps are not stigmatized here. They're seen as normal -- and painful -- and dealt with openly among friends.
Positive Role Models
Ana knows she wasn't meant to be the leader. It's what her brother, Dev, trained for. She steps up when needed and earns the respect of those around her. She makes careful, conscientious, compassionate decisions under pressure and uses her gifts with languages and music to solve complex problems. She relies on her diverse group of friends to anchor her. The villains seek knowledge for the sake of gaining power and wealth. And they're more violent -- they aim to kill while Ana and her team of freshman incapacitate and capture their enemies.
Ana is Bundeli Indian, her best friend Nelinha is Brazilian, Gemini is Black and Mormon, and another freshman, Halimah, wears a hijab. Other freshman who aren't well described have names like Jack Wu and Virgil Esparza, so the whole class is a diverse mix of exceptionally smart students. Ana's close friend, Ester, is autistic and has an emotional support dog. She's both one of the smartest and most intuitive characters who is valued member of the team. Ana grew up with few expectations because she was a younger sibling and a girl. She proves to be a great leader.
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Violence & Scariness
A whole school is destroyed by torpedoes with many students thought dead. All other fighting avoids casualties but there are injuries from small harpoons, paralyzing venom, stun guns, knives, rubber bullets, a wrench, and flash grenades. A teacher falls into a coma and has cancer. Lack of seatbelts on a fast vessel results in concussions, broken arms, and burns. A near-kidnapping and prisoners taken. Talk of how Ana's parents died on a scientific expedition two years before, and more details about their deaths as the story unfolds. Talk of Nemo dying and decomposing on the Nautilus. Mentions that Nemo's family was killed by the British.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Some innuendo about a lovesick sea creature. Some minor flirting.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Ana's father drinks wine in a flashback scene.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Daughter of the Deep is the start of a sci-fi adventure series from Rick Riordan, author of the Percy Jackson series. Disney+ confirmed film rights even before the first book's release. The story imagines that the Nautilus and its captain, Nemo, from Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues under the Sea are both real, and years later his descendants and other bright students attend a boarding school with the aim of training the next great thinkers and explorers. Sadly, the school is decimated by torpedo fire and many students are lost, but not the diverse freshman class who fight to stay ahead of the enemy for the rest of the exciting story. All other fighting avoids casualties, but there are injuries from small harpoons, paralyzing venom, stun guns, knives, rubber bullets, a wrench, and flash grenades. A teacher falls into a coma and has cancer. The lack of seatbelts on a fast vessel results in concussions, broken arms, and burns. The main character, Ana Dakkar, suffers the loss of her parents in an expedition two years before the book begins. Ana, like her ancestor Captain Nemo, is Bundeli Indian. Her friends have diverse backgrounds. Nelinha is Brazilian, Gemini is Black and Mormon, and another freshman, Halimah, wears a hijab. Ana's friend Ester is autistic and has a support dog. Ana becomes a steadfast leader in this story. She makes careful, conscientious, compassionate decisions under pressure and uses her gifts with languages and music to solve complex problems.
Is It Any Good?
This exciting undersea adventure throws together some wildly smart teens, cool tech, a hidden island base, and a cranky, 19th-century submarine. Even if young readers found 20,000 Leagues under the Sea a bit of a slog (as the main character did), they will dive into this modern update. It imagines Ana Dakkar, freshman at a prestigious school, as Captain Nemo's last known ancestor, and the only one who can unlock the Nautilus' secrets -- that's Nemo's submarine, and it has AI, and it's rather mad about being left alone for so long.
Like any good kid-centered adventure, this team of 20 freshman has barely learned what they need to survive before their only adult support checks out (in this case, their advisor falls into a coma). Luckily they are all specially trained in just about everything at their school: combat, medicine, sign language, electronics, you name it. And they're up against the senior class of a rival institute who won't show mercy. Why they sent seniors instead of adult assassins and mad scientists, that doesn't make sense. Nor does the idea that Ana's school doesn't want at least some of Nemo's secrets out in the world. Who wouldn't want the cure for cancer? How could that go wrong? But the missing logic doesn't take away from the thrills here, especially when Ana encounters a surprise villain and a surprise deep-sea friend. And of course there's a diver fight underwater as part of the climactic action -- there has to be. Get your captain's chair ready and enjoy this page-turner of an adventure, and get excited about the ones to come.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.