To escape a dying earth and save his family, Ishmael travels to another planet to join the crew of the Pequod. Prey abounds but the chase crews are often sent after the great terrafin, at the obsessed captains orders. Haunted by an old neighbors prophetic warning and with potential enemies all around, Ishmael and the other new recruits must do their best to survive.
Todd Strasser’s imaginative retelling of Melville’s classic, Moby Dick, is full of adventure, intrigue, and mystery. It a fun and quick read. There’s a lot added to the tale that isn’t featured in the original, and a lot of parts of the original (the copious long descriptions about whaling) that aren’t in this version (and I’m rather grateful of that last bit).
The characters are well-developed and interesting. The fact that Strasser chose to have Ishmael and his fellow new recruits be teenagers makes them a little more relatable to a teen audience. Plus it makes Ishmael’s desire to save his foster parents back on Earth and find his younger brother seem really heartfelt while also making it a potentially stressful desire. Ishmael himself is good person, not only for wanting to work to save his family, but also because he is willing to stand up for his friends, give up the wages he earns (that would otherwise go to his family) in order to do the right thing. He is both brave and selfless, perfect for the main character of this adventure.
The dying Earth is a typical sci-fi convention and lends an environmental message to the novel, though the events on Cretacea are the main focus. The flashbacks to Earth are a reminder of the foreignness of Ishmael’s new situation and the high stakes of his mission aboard the Pequod. The setting is also essential to the adventure and maritime themes that make this story so exciting (and even a bit mysterious).
Final verdict: a well-paced, fun adventure that should appeal to classic lit nerds and sci-fi nerds alike.