Alannis Summers takes time off from high school, leaves her New England home and signs up as a volunteer aboard the Sun Joule, which is seeking the cause of the Fouling – a disgusting blackness that is spreading along the Atlantic coastline, covering boats, strangling commerce and creating chaos.
The research team finds no answers to their questions, but Alannis uncovers the real reason why the waters they have entered are restricted and watched by the dark, obscure Ocean Security Commission that controls the whole Atlantic Ocean. Though it takes all Alannis’ deep-sea diving skills, determination, courage and quick thinking to hold onto her secret, in the end, her secret may change her life forever.
Author Kara Lynn Conyer has written a page-turning, deep-sea thriller with an intricate plot that is masterfully revealed and keeps the reader hooked from page one. Told from Alannis’ point of view, the narrative is true to the perspective of a sixteen-year-old. Alannis’ explanations of diving technique, science and the politics around her is easy to grasp. Also, the narrative captures her starry-eyed ideals but also her tendency to fall back on her knowledge of science; her youthful excitement as well as her fears, insecurities and need to prove to the team that her presence on the boat is not simply because of her father’s status, but because she has something to offer. Alannis’ journey and transformation makes her a convincing protagonist.
The descriptive narrative reveal a mysterious underwater world that is at once enticing and frightening, especially when Alannis is fearful of what she may encounter or reencounter:
“My eyes jump from one dark patch to the next. They’re open so wide, it kind of hurts. Everything looks suspect. The long arms of a tube-dwelling anemone float upward like white hair. Fingers of black corkscrew anemone reach out from beneath a crevice.”
Though the book’s themes touch about environment, they do not become moralistic or preaching but stay woven into a fresh plot that unites man and myths.
RESTRICTED WATERS is a hypnotic and suspenseful debut novel that will appeal to young adults and adults alike.
Reviewed by Maya Fleischmann for IndieReader