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“‘What I know is that sometimes you have to swim out and be counted, no matter what,’ Gray stared into the orca leader’s eyes. ‘You’ve fooled yourselves into thinking that not taking a side is the best and fairest thing to do. . . By ignoring this evil, you join with it—because you allow it to happen.’” —Into the Abyss
Into the Abyss
Shark Wars #3
by EJ Altbacker
Gray and his alliance of shivers—Riptide, Coral, and AuzyAuzy—want peace. But Emperor Finnivus is determined to bring the entire ocean under his command. Even though Gray and his alliance defeated Finnivis’s armada once, the bloodthirsty emperor is determined to feast on the heads of every shark he conquers.
Despite a tragic loss, Gray must prepare his forces to defeat the emperor’s armada. With no one to tell Gray what to do, Gray must figure out a way to vanquish Finnivus and his evil forces. Gray and his friends are outnumbered by a superior force. The fate of the Big Blue depends on Gray leading his alliance to victory. Can Gray become the leader that his sharkkind need to defeat Finnivus’s evil?
The third installment of the Shark Wars series follows the same format as The Battle of Riptide. The majority of the story follows Gray and his alliance as they train to defeat Finnivus, and an epic battle ensues. Takiza appears less frequently, which allows Barkley to play a bigger role. Barkley must take his place as a leader, but he is frustrated because some of the other sharks don’t respect him. Instead, they insult his entire species. Barkley must use creative thinking to earn the respect of others. He learns, “If you want them to listen, you need to prove to them you’re listening too.”
The evil Finnivus becomes even more malicious. As his armada defeats other shivers, they capture pups and brainwash them into thinking Gray’s alliance is responsible for their parents’ deaths. During the battles, Finnivus uses the pups because he knows other shivers will be reluctant to hurt the younger sharks. Finnivus’s evil actions may upset some readers. Although the death count is high, the deaths are not described in a gory manner. However, the detailed deaths of some of the characters may disturb some readers.
Into the Abyss shows the difficulties of becoming a leader; however, by the end of the story Gray and Barkley both show admirable courage. As Gray tries to recruit orcas to help with the fight, he says, “What I know is that sometimes you have to swim out and be counted, no matter what. . . You’ve fooled yourselves into thinking that not taking a side is the best and fairest thing to do. . . By ignoring this evil, you join with it—because you allow it to happen.”
Readers who have read the previous books will enjoy following Gray and Barkley as they fight against evil. Although the story follows the same format as the previous series, the story still contains some surprises. Fluent readers will enjoy the comradery of the sharks as they join together to fight an epic battle, where good overcomes evil.
- Finnivus orders his armada to kill, “a pitiful force of prisoners. . . Moments after the command was shouted by Finnivus, it was over. Not a single one of the opposing hundred and fifty prisoners remained.”
- Two mako shark assassins attack Gray. To defend himself, “Gray did a Bull Shark Rush at the closest shark, smashing him against a razor sharp coral wall. . .” Gray’s friends help defend him. One of the assassins, “had been speared by pointed rods of coral in three different places, including through the gills. . . The mako worked his jaws back and forth, close to death. He spit up a gob of blood as the light faded from his eyes.”
- When a herald gives Finnivus bad news, the emperor eats her. “The emperor ripped off another piece of the royal herald who had the bad luck of having to deliver the message.”
- Finnivus sends a group of pups to fight Gray’s armada. Lochlan leads the pups away and “the frenzied cluster of Indi pup mariners engulfed him. Lochlan winked at Gray. Then the AuzyAuzy King was swarmed by hundreds of sharks as the pups went into a feeding frenzy.” Gray wasn’t sure what to do, but, “time slowed as sharkkind died all around him, spiraling away to the Sparkle Blue.” Many sharks die before the end of the battle, which is described over eight pages.
- Finnivus’s armada kills many of the Riptide scouts. “Finnivus ate one of the mangled prisoners immediately, not waiting for the royal seasoners to do their work.”
- Takiza slaps Gray. “Takiza gave him another stinging slap on his snout. It was loud even in the heavy waters of the training field and made a crackling noise that echoed among the coral spires.”
- Barkley and some of his friends capture an Indi pup, who is knocked out cold. When the pup comes to, he cries, “Don’t eat me alive! Send me to the Sparkle blue, but don’t eat me while I’m still alive!” Barkley is able to reunite the pup with a family member. Later, the pup tells Gray, “Finnivus told us about you! He said you were the ones who came and destroyed my home! You ate my mother and father—while they were still alive!”
- Finnivus has urchins attack Whalem, who, “felt the acid drip from their bodies and howled.” Whalem dies.
- An epic battle takes place over several days. During the battle, “Gray could see at least thirty or forty Indi sharkkind spiral downward in their death throes on the way to the Sparkle Blue.” During one of the fights, “the two armadas met with a howl and a crash, both sides ripping and tearing for their very lives. There were so many sharkkind whirling and twisting away in their death agonies that a constant cry of pain and anguish vibrated the waters all around them.” During this time, Finnivus kills his mariner prime. The battle takes place over three chapters.
Drugs and Alcohol
- Valenka tries to poison Finnivus and his court.
- Takiza gives Gray, “a large dose of maredsoo, the glowing deep-ocean energy greenie.”
- “Heck” is used once.
- Finnivus calls someone a “dolt.”
- Several times in the story a shark is called a “chowderhead” or other names like “jelly drifting flipper,” or “fat frill-face.”
- When Gray hurts an octopus, the octopus calls him “a stupid jerk.”
- Takiza insults Gray. “The betta basically called him an idiot in his wordy way.”
- Barkley calls Gray a “fat lumpfish.”
- Gray tells Takiza that he sounds like a “cranky shellhead.”
- Whalem calls Finnivus an “idiot.”
- Sharks that die go to the “Sparkle Blue.”
- Takiza tells Gray to “pray to Tyro.”
- A shark prays to Tyro asking him for help.
- Takiza tells Gray about a prophecy. “He shall come from the depths of ocean prehistory. . . a megalodon will arise and win the unwinnable war.” Takiza believes the prophecy is about Gray, but he admits prophecies, “are irritatingly unclear. But the verse does seem to be speaking of someone remarkably like you, in an uncomfortably similar situation to the one we find ourselves in today.”
- When Whalem is knocked out, he sees, “sparkling lights everywhere.” He also sees his friends who are swimming in the Sparkle Blue. One of his friends tells him that it’s not his time. Later, “the colorful lights returned. How everything sparkled! Then, Whalem was with his friends again, and he was happy.”