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Davy "knew by now that blacktips were a timid, curious sort of shark. He knew just by the fact that he was still alive.” ―Surrounded by Sharks
Surrounded by Sharks
by Michael Northrop
AR Test, Good for Reluctant Readers
Early in the morning, Davey wakes up in a small hotel room surrounded by his family. He sneaks out of the room because he doesn’t want to waste any of the vacation sleeping. Davey, with a book in hand, heads to the beach. The beautiful ocean is too much of a temptation for Davey to resist. When he sees the No Swimming sign, he decides to just dip his toes in the water. But the waves tear Davey away from the island and soon he’s miles offshore. He’s surrounded by water—and something else. Sharks are circling below the surface, watching, and waiting. Davey’s terrified he will become the sharks’ next meal. Then no one will find out what happened to him.
Northrop writes with the perfect balance of suspense and action. The short chapters allow the reader to see Davey’s struggle, the sharks’ thoughts, and the action that is taking place back on the island. As the people on the island search for answers about where Davey could have disappeared to, the reader knows that Davey is about to become shark food. Switching between perspectives keeps the reader in suspense to the very end.
Every character in Surrounded by Sharks comes alive and their unique personalities add to the story’s atmosphere. Although the story revolves around Davey’s predicament, there are also several other teens that make the story relatable. While Davey’s two-parent family is not shown to be perfect, they clearly love each other. Surrounded by Sharks is an easy-to-read, suspenseful story that will keep even the most reluctant reader turning the pages until the very end.
- Davey is distracted by a girl because “her T-shirt was so light that he could see her bathing suit right through it. Or, wait . . . was that her bra?”
- A shark tries to bite Davey. When it attacks, “the black eyes rolled back in its head, and its permanent frown widened for the bite, revealing two rows of sharp, serrated teeth. BONK! It hit the water cooler bottle.” Davey has the air knocked out of his lungs but is otherwise uninjured.
- A shark attacks Davey. As Davey is being pulled into a boat, “the smaller shark surged forward below the surface and clamped onto Davey’s leg, harder this time. It swung its head to the side with surprising power and pulled Davey out of Drew’s grasp and clean off the side of the boat. Davey’s head dipped under the water, and a mouthful of seawater slipped into his lungs.” Davey is saved.
Drugs and Alcohol
- Davey sits by a bar stand on the beach and worries about getting drunk off the fumes because then he’d get in trouble if he was “stumbling back into the hotel room completely blitzed on alcohol vapors.”
- One of the characters, Zeke, had “been out at the local bars the night before. It was what they called ‘a late night’ in most places. . .” Later Zeke is described as having a “faint smell of booze.”
- A man at the bar stand tells someone, “Come back at eleven. Mimosas and Bloody Marys. Full bar at noon.”
- A character goes into a liquor store, but his wife doesn’t approve.
- “Frickin’” is used several times.
- “Oh my god” and “god” are used as exclamations several times. For example, after being pulled into the ocean by a riptide, Davey thinks, “Oh my god, I’m an idiot!”
- While out in the ocean, Davey believes thata he sees land and thinks “Thank God.”