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“Because I don’t judge others based solely on who they’re related to or what animal they shift into,” said Malcom, a challenge to his voice. “. . .I also don’t believe in isolating others simply because they’re different.” –Simon Thorn and the Shark’s Cave
Simon Thorn and the Shark’s Cave
Simon Thorn #3
by Aimée Carter
Simon Thorn is just learning the rules of the Animalgam, a secret race of people who can shift into animals. After years of being bullied, he has finally found a group of friends. They attend the secret Animalgam academy, which is hidden beneath New York’s Central Park Zoo. Simon and his friends are looking for the pieces of a terrible weapon—the predator. They are determined to destroy the weapon before Simon’s grandfather, Orion, can use it to take over the Animalgam kingdom.
When Simon’s dolphin friend Jam is summoned home to the underwater kingdom, Simon decides it is the perfect time for him to search for a missing piece of the predator. Simon soon discovers that finding the piece will be harder than he thinks. There is a traitor among the underwater kingdom and Jam’s family has strict rules that cannot be broken. Can Simon and his friends find the piece before Orion?
The third book in the Simon Thorn series takes the reader on a fast-paced ride through the underwater world where sharks rule. Even though Simon is still looking for a piece of the predator, Simon Thorn and the Shark’s Cave doesn’t simply repeat the events of previous books. Instead, the story focuses on Jam’s strict, military family and the dangers that lurk underwater. Even though the story has many of the same characters, Jam’s family is introduced, and with that come new complications.
Simon Thorn’s world is unique, dangerous, and utterly captivating. The characters are distinct, well-developed, and interesting. Simon is surrounded by a host of Animalgam with questionable intentions as well as two villains who are willing to kill him to gain power. The story highlights the dangers of one person having too much power. Simon thinks that even if someone wants peace, tyranny is not the way to gain it because “there will always be good people who rise up against tyrants and murderers regardless of what it cost them.”
The story highlights the importance of learning from mistakes as well as forgiveness. While in the underwater world, Simon gets a glimpse of the negative aspects of sexism, especially how it affects Jam’s sisters. Simon’s friend Felix points out that Simon is unique because, “You meet someone and you see who they are, not what they are. You got any idea how rare that is, kid?”
The Simon Thorn series must be read in order because the plot builds on previous books. However, readers who have read the first two books in the series will not be disappointed in this installment. New characters, new adventures, and new dangers arise in Simon Thorn and the Shark’s Cave. The fast-paced action and plot twists will keep readers engaged until the very end. The Simon Thorn series gives readers a relatable hero who will do whatever it takes to keep his family and friends safe.
- A group of falcons chases after Nolan and Simon, who were flying in bird form. A falcon catches Simon’s wing and “Burning pain tore through his shoulder, and Simon cried out as his body spun wildly, careening toward a nearby window. . .” Simon “pushed his wing directly into the falcon’s path, throwing his opponent off balance as it tried to avoid a direct collision. Simon caught the falcon by the tail feathers and, using the golden eagle’s strength to his advantage, he spun the falcon toward the nearest roof as hard as he could.” When a falcon goes after Nolan, Simon “Caught up to it, and he grabbed it by the wings and pulled up with all his strength, throwing the smaller bird into the empty sky and away from the struggling golden eagle.”
- Winter and another girl, Nixie, get into a fight. “Nixie let out a shriek that echoed throughout the cavern, and she shoved Winter backward. Simon caught her before she could fall. . . Winter screeched and charged straight for Nixie, tackling her.” The girls fall into shallow water.
- Sharks attack a group of dolphin Animalgams. Simon watched as “a tiger shark nearly took a chunk out of Jam’s tail, and only then did he pull himself out of his stupor and rush toward the action, letting out a fierce cry. . .” Simon barreled “though a group of sharks like a bowling ball crashing through pins. . . He chomped down on a bull shark first, and while he’d only grabbed a fin, the shark squealed and swam out of the fight.” A great white goes after Jam, and the General enters the fight. “The great white’s teeth sank into the General’s dolphin body instead, and the General let out a scream that chilled Simon to the bode.” A jellyfish squirts ink into the water, and the fight ends. The fight lasts three pages.
- An underwater soldier arrests Simon and “in one swift motion, she caught Simon’s wrists and bound them together with a zip tie. . .” Jam helps Simon escape. “One second she was slipping the zip tie over Jam’s wrists, and the next, he lurched forward, shoving her into the wall. . . when Jam backed away, her hands were bound together, not his. . .” Simon and Nolan escape.
- When Simon tries to leave the underwater compound, the sharks Al and Floyd decide Simon will make a good snack and try to eat him. “Al rammed into him, knocking his smaller dolphin body off course. Simon’s side exploded in pain, and he spun around wildly until he wasn’t sure which way was up . . .” Floyd caught “Simon by the tail and flinging him back toward Al. His sharp teeth dug into Simon’s dolphin skin, but it was a scratch at best. . . Al’s tail made contact with his head. Dizzy and disoriented, Simon floated in water without moving, his thoughts scrambled and pain pouring through him in every direction.” Simon begins sinking to the seafloor unconscious, and then someone rescues him. The shark fight scene takes place over two pages.
- While scuba diving in the ocean, a shark Animalgam sees Simon and hits him. “Simon flew backwards. His mouthpiece fell out, and he tried to reach for it, only to be yanked back by his oxygen tank a second time.” A second great white shark appears and helps Simon when “It chomped down on the first shark’s tail, and she let out a bloodcurdling shriek. . . the second shark sinking its teeth into her twice more, and during those precious seconds while she wasn’t paying attention, Simone used the last of his energy to propel himself toward the mouthpiece.” The attacking shark is chased away.
- Orion killed an Animalgam, but the death is not described. Simon sees Orion with “his hands clasped around the delicate neck of a dead peregrine falcon.”
- Simon snuck into Orion’s camp to talk to his mother. While he was there, “suddenly two large human hands grabbed him, pinning his wings to his side. Instinctively Simon struggled against the grip, squawking and snapping his beak at the strong fingers around his feathered body, but there was no give.” Orion threatens to kill Simon’s mother, who is chained up so she can’t escape. At one point, Orion lifts “the knife threateningly, the tip pointed toward Simon’s mother.” Ariana in spider form bites Orion, and they are able to escape. Before they leave, Ariana gives Orion an antidote so he doesn’t die. The scene takes place over five pages.
Drugs and Alcohol
- Simon tells his brother, “You’re an idiot.”
- Simon calls shouts at some falcons, “Hey, birdbrains!” Later a student called Simon “birdbrain.”
- Winter calls the general of the underwater kingdom a jerk. Later Simon tells one of Jam’s sisters that “You should think about not being such a jerk to him all of the time.”
- The story revolves around Animalgams, “human[s] who could not only talk to animals, but developed the ability to turn into one, too.” This ability is passed down by family. “Nearly all Animalgams could only shift into a single animal, and they belonged to one of the five Animalgam kingdoms: mammals, birds, insects, reptiles, or underwater creatures.” Nolan and Simon are special; they can shift into any animal.