Holyoke, Polly. The Neptune Project.
21 May 2013, Disney Hyperion
E ARC from Netgally.com
Nere and her mother live along the coast, and her mother studies marine life in the area. Food is scarce, and the government has cracked down on just about every aspect of people's lives. Shortly after Nere and a friend go out at night to save a smuggler, the government decides that her village is not contributing enough food, and the people are sent inland. Nere's mother is prepared for this, and Nere finds out that she and several of the other children of the fishermen were genetically altered and can survive underwater. Nere's father anticipated government problems and after faking his death a couple of years previously, has set up at another settlement. Nere and her friends take off to find him, hoping to evade the government, who would not be happy to discover that Nere is an empath who can talk to dolphins. With lots of adventure, a little romance, and a lot of details about the sea, I wouldn't be at all surprised if there is a sequel.
Strengths: Holyoke does a very good job at dropping us right into a hunger plagued dystopia with genetically altered children and explaining afterwards. This is very hard to do, but the details of life are presented in a way that made sense. For example, I knew right away that something was up with Nere's breathing difficulties, but was still surprised to find out the extent of her differences. There are a lot of children who are interested in marine biology, and I could see this being popular with The Hunger Games fans.
Weaknesses: This is a little goofy, and some of the details about being underwater are a bit ragged. Still, a clever and unique story. (Well, it bears a tiny resemblance to Kat Fall's Dark Life, but only in that they are set partially underwater.)