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“I know it's not a bear, but maybe we should treat it like one. Monsters might get scared too.” ―Polaris
by Michael Northrop
AR Test, Diverse Characters
During the 1830s, the Polaris sets sail on a scientific mission to the Amazon jungle. The crew is excited to bring back new discoveries, but when the landing party returns, only half are alive. After an argument, the crew loads a chest into the bowels of the ship. After they begin their trip home, a bloody mutiny leaves most of the adult crew dead. Those who live, flee the ship, leaving six children—none of whom are older than twelve. The captain’s 12-year-old nephew Owen, a botanist’s assistant, and other deckhands struggle for survival. Soon they realize that the sea isn’t their only worry. Something else is lurking below deck, and it’s growing.
From the first page, Polaris will capture reader’s attention and they will not want to put the book down. With just the right mix of suspense and action, Polaris makes the fight for survival come to life. Full of realistic detail and nautical facts, readers will be pulled into the frightening atmosphere of Polaris. The story is appropriate for younger readers with tame battle scenes. This fast-paced story has well-developed characters that show the importance of working together despite the fact that they do not like each other. With a diverse cast of characters, an engaging plotline, and an epic battle scene, Polaris will not disappoint those looking for an excellent horror story. But be warned, the creepy creature may make its way into the nightmares of readers.
- A character thinks about a boy, who “had blown up trying to carry two cartridges (of gun powder) at once.”
- A mutiny begins among the adult crew. The children listen to the fighting through a locked door and hear gunshots as well as someone being thrown into the sea. Then the boys hear, “three shots rang out in quick succession—the officer’s pistols. Shrieks of pain mixed with the shouts of rage, telling Owen that the rest of the work would be done with blades and hands.”
- Owen shoots the creature. “Owen heard a quick sound behind him—tik-taclik! —like metal on bone.” Then, the boys pour boiling water on him. When the creature flees, someone stabs it with a spear.
- When the creature snatches one of the boys, someone shoots the creature. “Per-KRACK went the pistol. A flash of flame and a billowing plume of smoke shot forth.”
- A boy hits Owen over the head with a hatchet. Owen is not seriously injured.
- When the creature tries to snatch another person, there is a fight that takes place over several pages. When someone shoots it, “the lead ball ricocheted off the thick armor plating of its thorax.” When Owen throws the pistol at it, “the butt of the pistol smacked heavily into what had been Obed’s forehead. The creature staggered backwards. . .” No one is injured.
- The creature attacks the boys. The battle takes place over several chapters. During the battle, “A dark red rat-like creature emerged from the hatch, then a second, and then they all began to pour out. One dozen, two dozen.” The kids rig a device to blow up the ship after they have jumped off.
Drugs and Alcohol
- Owen thinks about his uncle and father. “His uncle had taken him in after his mother’s death and his father’s descent into sorrow—and the bottle.”
- When the crewmembers discuss being infected with spores, someone thinks, “Oh God. . . What if it’s me?”
- The children believe the ghost of Obed Macy is haunting the lower deck of the ship. They discuss if a Bible and cross will ward off the ghost.
- During a storm, a character begins “the Lord’s prayer.”
- A character prays, “Lord help us all.”