Review Blog

Apr 22 2020

The Vanishing Deep by Astrid Scholte

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Allen & Unwin, 2020. ISBN: 9781760525576.
(Age: 14+) Highly recommended. Readers will become immersed in a watery world with Tempe, a 17 year old girl who dives deep below the waves, scavenging for relics in ruins of the time before the Great Waves destroyed her planet. Tempe is determined to earn enough notes to buy twenty four hours with her dead sister Elysea in the facility on Palindromena, where the dead can be revived for a short time. It is on Palindromena that Lor lives isolated underground rarely seeing anyone, guilty about causing the death of his friend in a climbing accident. When he takes on the task of guiding Tempe through the twenty four hours that she has with Elysea he finds himself on a chase to bring them back before the time is up when they escape in search of their parents.
Scholte is a master at world building. It is easy to imagine a world where the sea has overtaken big cities lying along the coast and where the survivors must scavenge to keep alive. The idea of being able to visit your loved ones for a last twenty four hours is one that will challenge the reader. Would you really be able to face seeing someone you loved, knowing that it is only for 24 hours? Elysea knows that she wants to spend these last 24 hours with her parents, and she and Tempe take off on a dangerous adventure to find out what has happened to them.
Told in alternative chapters by Tempe and Lor, it is easy for the author to identify with both main characters. Tempe has become strong and independent in the two years since her sister's death and parents' disappearance and she is determined to find out why the secrets around her parents' disappearance and Elysea's death. The mystery of what Lor is doing hiding himself away tantalises too and secondary characters are all fully fleshed and interesting.
This is a unique dystopian story that will appeal to fans of speculative fiction as well as those who love a coming of age story. It would make an interesting literature circle book and teacher notes are available at the publisher's website. Readers who enjoyed The vanishing deep will want to read Scholte's other novel, Four dead queens which is on the Book of the Year: Older Readers shortlist 2020.
Pat Pledger

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