The Expeditioners and the Secret of King Triton's Lair: The Expeditioners, Book 2

Book review by
Mary Eisenhart, Common Sense Media
The Expeditioners and the Secret of King Triton's Lair: The Expeditioners, Book 2 Book Poster Image
Pirates, eels, and intrigue in exciting steampunk sequel.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

In the course of visiting this alternative world's tropical islands and its own counterpart to the Bermuda Triangle, readers will learn a lot about island culture, animal species, the interdependence of life forms, and the impact of environmental disaster. They'll have plenty of opportunities to draw parallels between the Expeditioners' world and our own, particularly involving the quest for oil and how it affects people, nations, and nature. Kids who love maps will share  in Kit's efforts to figure out what strange diagrams are trying to tell him and delight in the moments when things fall into place; they'll also enjoy comparing the area to maps of its real-life counterpart.

Positive Messages

Everybody's distinct talents come into play to save lives and make the mission successful. Strong messages about respect for nature and the environment, friendship, courage, loyalty, doing the right thing, and learning to work in a group and make the best of it when things don't go your way.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Narrator/protagonist Kit struggles to do the right thing as he faces challenges from man-eating eels to unrequited love. Siblings Zander and M.K., along with friends Sukey, Joyce, and Kemal, all show courage, loyalty, and strong principles in difficult circumstances while displaying unique talents including animal whispering, inventive engineering, and brilliant swordplay. Zander in particular is very concerned about the environment.

Violence

The story takes place against a backdrop of war ramping up, with the quest for oil intended to fuel the war machine. Characters deal with various dangers, from an apparent attempt on a school official's life to swordplay and hand-to-hand combat. Also tree-climbing, amphibious, man-eating eels. Catastrophic damage befalls beautiful life forms because of an environmental disaster.

Sex

Kit has a huge crush on Sukey, but she only has eyes for his brother, Zander. They become closer while stranded on an island, but no romance develops. Another teen character has a reputation as an incorrigible flirt. Kit makes a joke about one faculty member giving another a foot massage.

 

Language

"God," with and without the capital, used several times as an exclamation and in variants such as "godssake." "Damn" used rarely.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Expeditioners and the Secret of King Triton's Lair is the sequel to The Expeditioners and the Treasure of Drowned Man's Canyon,​and continues the adventures of the West kids. Narrator Kit West returns, along with handsome, swashbucking, eco-minded older brother Zander and younger sister M.K., an engineering wizard. Budding cartographer Kit discovers another map left behind by their father, a lost explorer presumed dead, and soon the siblings, their friends, and an enemy or two from the Academy are off on another quest. As preparations for war over Middle Eastern oil ramp up, the Expeditioners discover undersea realms, decipher coded maps, and confront such dangers as pirates, tree-climbing carnivorous eels, and international intrigue while Kit privately struggles with unrequited love. Mild language (occasional "damn" and use of "God" as an expletive) but little else to worry about as author S.S. Taylor and illustrator Katherine Roy deliver lots of excitement as well as food for thought about imperialism, environmental damage, and trying to find the right thing to do in ethically murky situations.

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What's the story?

As THE EXPEDITIONERS AND THE SECRET OF KING TRITON'S LAIR opens, narrator Kit West, along with older brother Zander and younger sister M.K. are settling into their new lives at the Academy after their adventures in Book 1, when Kit finds another map left behind by their father, who's presumed dead on a recent expedition. Meanwhile, international unrest is building in the Middle East, with oil at the bottom of it all. Strange goings-on, including an apparent attempt on an adult's life, feed paranoia and suspicion, especially against foreign-born students. The West kids, along with friends Sukey, Joyce, and Kemal as well as some enemies, are off on a Caribbean adventure, trying to find -- and explore -- a mysterious spot from which no ship has ever returned.

Is it any good?

Kids (and many parents) will find plenty to love as the exciting Expeditioners series continues. Appealing characters! Undersea adventure! Pirates! Exotic creatures! Unimagined perils! Ethical quandaries! Also, unrequited love. Author S.S. Taylor tells a lively, heartfelt tale in the voice of Kit. And Katherine Roy's illustrations capture the characters' personalities and surroundings as they pursue their quest.

With much of the adventure taking place under the sea amid gorgeous locations and colorful creatures, there's more than a hint of other 19th-century adventure tales. Readers may want to explore those after reading this, which is considerably more accessible to 21st-century readers. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about steampunk. What's the appeal of stories set in a world where electricity, for all practical purposes, never happened? Are there any devices from the Expeditioners' world that you'd like to see in ours?

  • Have you ever had your work stolen by someone who tried to pass it off as his or her own? How did you feel? What did you do about it?

  • Does this story make you want to learn more about the Caribbean and maybe see it for yourself? Have you heard other stories of strange disappearances of ships and airplanes in that area?

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