THE MONSTER MISSIONS by Laura Martin
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Berkley’s dad isn’t thrilled that his daughter chose to be a scavenger. Everyone on a ship has to have a job–even twelve year olds–but diving to the wreckage of human civilization that has been deep underwater since her grandfather’s youth is the most dangerous job she could have picked. But Berkley is a great diver and her inventions help her scavenge the most scrap metal and other treasures they can use on the ship. That is until one of her inventions awaken a sea monster.
Sea monsters aren’t supposed to exist, but the serpentine creature that attacks the divers and then goes for the ship couldn’t really have any other name than “monster.” Thinking fast, Berkley and her friend Garth manage to trap the monster in chains, but the captain isn’t proud of them for saving the ship. In fact, he immediately transfers them to the crew of a research submarine, not even letting them tell their parents goodbye. As far as he’s concerned, the most important thing is to keep the crew from finding out about the monster in the first place. On a sub tasked with researching monsters like the one Berkley and Garth defeated, the two newcomers are immediately welcomed to the team. But Berkley can’t shake the feeling that the monster she fought might find a way out of its chains. And when it does, she knows it will be coming for her.
This novel is mostly an action-packed, futuristic fantasy adventure with an ominous undercurrent of climate change warnings. The monsters and humorous banter keep the story largely escapist, but deeper themes of family, friendship, courage, and environmental responsibility keep it grounded as well. I’d recommend this one to fans of both middle grade sci-fi and fantasy.