Just in time for launch day, School Library Journal offers up its take on The Secret Sea! (Once again, I’ve redacted a bit for spoiler purposes. Emphasis mine.)
Terrifying visions of subway stations flooded by ocean water. A somnambulistic journey to the World Trade Center. Things are definitely getting weirder by the day for Zak Killian, and that’s before he uncovers the secret of [SPOILER]. That reveal leads Zak and his best friends Khalid and Moira into an alternate universe where Zak can [SPOILER]. Lyga creates a compelling and impressively fleshed out alternate universe; sci-fi, fantasy, and dystopian elements feature throughout, from mysterious wild magic to the glowing electroleum power source. A subplot involving the brutal repression of women by means of a legal system very similar to our own slavery adds depth to the comparison of the two worlds. Though upper–middle grade through young adult readers will appreciate these elements, the narrative’s success ultimately relies on its compelling adventures and character development. However, it is somewhat disappointing that readers have to wait roughly about 100 pages to cross into the alternate universe proper. VERDICT Though it might start a little slow some for some, this work ultimately delivers the sci-fi, fantasy, and dystopian goods and will draw in middle schoolers with its impressive world-building. A strong choice for many young adult and upper–middle grade collections.