This month’s Spotlight Week features ABOVE WORLD by Middle Grade Author Jenn Reese.



368 pages, Hardcover

Genre: MG, Ages 10 and up

Published on February 14, 2012 by Candlewick

ISBN-10: 0763654175

ISBN-13: 978-0763654177


A suspenseful sci-fi escapade plucks two children out of the ocean for a thrilling adventure.

Thirteen-year-old Aluna has lived her entire life under the ocean with the Coral Kampii in the City of Shifting Tides. But after centuries spent hidden from the Above World, her colonys survival is in doubt. The Kampiis breathing necklaces are failing, but the elders are unwilling to venture above water to seek answers. Only headstrong Aluna and her friend Hoku are stubborn and bold enough to face the terrors of land to search for way to save their people.

But can Alunas warrior spirit and Hokus tech-savvy keep them safe? Set in a world where overcrowding has led humans to adaptgrowing tails to live under the ocean or wings to live on mountainshere is a ride through a future where greed and cruelty have gone unchecked, but the loyalty of friends remains true.


My Review

Opening Line: Aluna swam toward the outpost, her heart pounding, her breathing necklace pulsing at her throat.

Opening Paragraph: Aluna swam toward the outpost, her heart pounding, her breathing necklace pulsing at her throat. She kicked her legs harder, wishing it were tomorrow. Wishing she already had her tail. With a tail, she could speed through the water, fast as a dolphin.

The opening lines hooked me right off the bat, and questions about this character and the world she lived in began swimming in my head. What was a breathing necklace? How would she get a tail? What kind of underwater world did she live in?

Author Jenn Reese did not disappoint. The world she’s created is a fascinating one—full of wonder, surprise, and danger. In this dystopian story, environmental problems and overpopulation has forced humans to seek out alternative habitats, and adapt their bodies to their new environment.

Like the rest of the Kampii, Aluna lives deep underwater, but through her adventures, she gets to meet people from other splinters of the new world. She befriends the Avians, winged people who live in the high mountains, and even makes friends with an Equian, a member of the half-horse race living in the deserts.

Aluna is a strong-willed, and defiant heroine. She takes it upon herself to find out a solution to the growing problem of breathing necklace malfunctions, when the Elders in her society refuse to seek help. She journeys to the above world, where she realizes that working with the other races might be the only way to save them all from a common enemy.

Aluna and her friends all have distinct, likeable characteristics. Her best friend Hoku, who helps tell the other half of the story, is the ultimate geek, and often helps calm hot-headed Aluna. Brave Dash and shy Callie also add fun and sometimes drama to the adventure.

The setting is so original and vividly described. I love how science fiction and fantasy seem to meld in Above World. Technology began all the amazing transformations of the human race in this story, but ceremony and ritual from the different tribes lend an almost magical feel to everything.

I also loved the little details about the world, which author Jenn Reese has sprinkled throughout the text. I was pleasantly surprised to find a lovable pet raccoon named Zorro, a talking dog, and a half human-half crab mechanism who longs for a kiss.

Boys will especially enjoy the book’s fast pace and every action-packed chapter. There is hardly time to breathe, as the friends are thrown from one adventure to the next. The author’s background in martial arts shines through in the fight scenes she’s written. I could clearly picture the action in my mind, and I almost felt like I was watching a movie.

Girls, on the other hand, will enjoy reading about Aluna’s journey of self-discovery, and the budding romance that will blossom later on between two of the other characters.

I enjoyed reading Above World and can’t wait for the next two books in the series.

** Book 2, Mirage, will be published in February of 2013, while Book 3 will most likely come out in 2014.



Stay tuned for an interview with ABOVE WORLD’s author Jenn Reese on Wednesday!

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21 Responses to “Spotlight Week: Above World by Jenn Reese, A Book Review”

  1. Great review! Above World sounds like a great read, with a likeable MC :)

  2. Not too many books for boys in that age range.

  3. Senator says:

    eek! Sounds great!

  4. Haven’t heard of this book, but it does sound interesting. Will have to check it out.

  5. Morgan Shamy says:

    Oooo… fab review. I don’t read this genre much, but it sounds great! 😀

  6. This sounds like a fun MG book!

    Great review.

  7. I like having the POV from the ocean dwellers. Nice change. The opening lines hooked me too. Candlewick publishes many quality books, so I’ll be adding this to my list!

  8. The opening line hooked me too! Must get this book today!!

  9. Southpaw says:

    I loved the cover, then I read the blurb – love it too.

  10. Sounds like a book my granddaughter would enjoy.

  11. Cherie Reich says:

    Such a cute cover! Sounds like a great book!

  12. That’s a great review and I love the cover!

  13. Lynn Kelley says:

    Love the cover! This sounds like a fun adventure. Nice review, Nutschell!

  14. Katie says:

    This sounds great! It’s definitely going on my the list(:

  15. Tonja says:

    I agree – the line about the breathing necklace is intriguing.

  16. Nas says:

    Your review makes this book sound so interesting. And the cover is so cute as well. need to check it out!

  17. Jemi Fraser says:

    Sounds like a great story! I think my students will love it – thanks for the tip!

  18. Mary says:

    Sounds like a very imaginative world. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

  19. This book sounds excellent! I have always loved the water and think the fantasy world she created will be a fun one for me and my students. Glad there are things that will appeal to boys and girls. I also love the cover. Thanks for sharing! I

  20. Karen Lange says:

    Thanks for the info on Jenn’s book! It sounds interesting! :)

  21. Wow! They came from underwater. Sounds great. :)

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