Following their debut adventure in The Expeditioners and the Treasure of Drowned Man’s Canyon, the West siblings – map-loving Kit, charismatic animal-champion Zander and cheerful engineer M. K. – are now at the Academy for the Exploratory Sciences, while continuing to follow the map clues that their apparently dead father has left for them.
Author Taylor develops the intriguing steam punk/alternate history world and the cast of characters established in the first novel, while also making it accessible for readers new to the series.
Before I get into more about the book itself, a few thoughts about the illustrations. I love the style of the black and white ones scattered throughout the book – and it actually makes me think of the characters as being older than I read them. Secondly, it’s a bummer for libraries that they have to cover and secure the dust jacket, as there’s a really cool exploded diagram of Amy, the submarine. And finally – why no map of the world? It would be great to see more than just the area where the adventure takes place. All good fantasy books should have maps and, in this case, there should be more maps!
The plot is a little unbalanced, with a drawn-out set up before the team embarks on their expedition to explore the mysteries of a Bermuda Triangle-type patch in the Caribbean, where ships disappear, and where there may also be oil.
14 year-old Kit, the narrator, continues to be the most interesting character with his geeky intelligence, unrequited crush on a fellow student, and jealous adoration of his older brother; the rest of the large ensemble is much less nuanced.
Some questions are unanswered and plot threads left dangling, setting the Expeditioners up for a sequel that promises to go deeper into the political structure of their world.