A little bit Goonies, a little bit Aliens, and add 1830’s nautical history and you get a recipe for heaps of adventure in Michael Northrop’s Polaris. The book tells the story a ship on a scientific voyage that goes dreadfully wrong and the young crew left to fend for themselves. While on an expedition to the jungles of Brazil, only a few sailors make it back and soon an argument ensues on what to do with a sick crewman resulting in mutiny. The mutineers then abandon the Polaris and try to destroy it, with no regard for the boys still on it.
The story a wild ride as the children attempt to figure out what is happening and somehow make it back to land by themselves. Polaris plays out part thriller part horror as kids slowly realize that they aren’t alone on the ship and there is something very sinister below deck. I highly enjoyed the narrative as it was reminiscent of adventure movies in the 1980’s where a group of kids found themselves having to deal with a force outside of their ordinary lives. Against all odds they banded together to survive and overcame multiple obstacles. With the second season of Stranger Things having been released this past weekend, Polaris very much has the same flavor to it, except it’s set on a sailing vessel in the 1830’s.
I also particularly enjoyed the perspectives of Owen the cabin boy and captain’s nephew, Henry the scientist’s assistant, and the Spanish Brothers. The book was told from the point of views of various characters and you really got to understand their backstories and motivations. In addition, it was also a lot of fun to read the group dynamics and to see how each individual handled the extremely pressured and stressful situation they were in. Henry especially was interesting because he was the only one who was not a sailor and was the proverbial fish out of water. He had to get his sea legs and get them fast if he was going to survive. But we also find out that he serves a very important role in the story and it’s thanks to his brain that they have a fighting chance against the mysterious being lurking in the dark spaces of the ship.
Polaris is an action-packed adventure full of creepy noises, tense moments, twists and turns, and secrets. You’ll see what it was like to be a kid on a ship in the 1830’s and frankly it was a hard life. Northrop does a fantastic job in taking his readers into this world, showing us that these children are survivors and can handle challenges thrown at them. I was already dream casting characters in my head! Finn Wolfhard would make an excellent Henry.
Michael Northrop is also the author of the Tombquest series, Trapped, Surrounded by Sharks, Plunked, Rotten, and Gentlemen.
Polaris comes out on October 31, 2017 just in time for Halloween.