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“You are special, but if you rely on your gifts without seeking to improve yourself, you will fail. And you cannot fail!” Takiza. –The Battle of Riptide
The Battle of Riptide
Shark Wars #2
by EJ Altbacker
Gray and Barkley have always had to worry about Goblin shiver, but now the fish are whispering of a greater threat. Finnivus has a vicious armada, and he plans on expanding his empire. Finnivus won’t stop killing until he is the emperor of the seven seas.
Gray isn’t sure what he can do, but then Takiza appears. Takiza, a wise and mysterious fighting fish, has made Gray his apprentice. With Takiza’s instruction, Gray will learn what it means to be a great warrior. Gray isn’t convinced that he can learn how to defeat Finnivus and his armada. Can Gray find the courage to fight? Will he lead his shiver to a victory or to their deaths?
The second installment of the Shark Wars series ramps up the action as shark shivers struggle to survive. Finnivus, a spoiled king, gives the story a new, interesting threat. Readers will root for Finnivus’s demise because the young shark is a truly self-centered, evil king. Although it is no surprise that Gray will have to face Finnivus, the shark action is nicely interwoven between Gray’s training scenes.
New, interesting characters are added, which allows readers to see how the sharks must work together to defeat Finnivus. The battle isn’t portrayed in a glamorous way, but is portrayed as being necessary to defeat evil. Although the death count is high, the deaths are not described in a gory manner. However, some readers may be upset when a shark eats her shivermates.
Readers who have not read Shark Wars may have difficulty understanding the dynamics of the characters. The sharks’ world is brought to life in a realistic, interesting way and includes shark language such as landsharks, shiver, chop chop, and greenie. The cover of the book has a picture of each shark, which allows readers to understand the size and physical differences of characters.
The Battle of Riptide explores the theme of loyalty and illustrates that loyalty should not be more important than doing what is right. The fast-paced story will keep readers interested with the well-developed characters, an evil king, and intense battle scenes. But the best part of the story is reading about Gray’s struggle to become a courageous leader worthy of being respected. With 242 pages and no pictures, Shark Wars is a good choice for fluent readers. Anyone who wants to swim into a good shark story will enjoy The Battle of Riptide. Readers will want to make sure they have the third book in the series, Into the Abyss, ready to read because even though Gray and his allies have won the battle, it is clear that the war will continue.
- When Snork gets stuck in the coral, Razor Shiver attacks. In order to defend his friend, Striker “hurtled out of nowhere and speared a streaking bull shark in the flank, butting it away from biting Gray. . . Barkley took on another bull as Shell rammed a third. It was a melee!” When Snork gets free, the group flees.
- King Finnivus’s herald goes to talk to Razor. In anger, Razor, “roared and took the herald’s dorsal fin with one clean bite.” A battle ensues and, “after only a few fin flicks, there was blood everywhere. . . It was a slaughter. Then two Indi Shiver sharks—a blue shark and a mako—struck at Razor himself, one mauling his dorsal, the other taking his right fin. Razor was finished!” The attack happens over three pages.
- Two sharks attack Gray and Barkley. “When Gray emerged from behind the pillar of coral, he was zooming straight at his attackers. Surprise! Gray smashed into the mako, snout to snout. He weighed much, much more than that shark and heard its spine audibly snap. It sank, a surprised look frozen on its face.” Barkley bites an attacking shark and, “the blue shark keeled over and sank, warm blood rising from the wound.” The attack happens over four pages.
- Valenka plots Goblin’s death. She lures Goblin to a quiet location where ocean creatures inject him with poison. “The toxic dwellers stung Goblin on his belly and by the bends on his fines. Goblin screamed in frustration as the stonefish kept low and underneath him. . . Goblin stiffened as if he had swum into an invisible wall when the jellyfish stung him in the gills. . . With a last audible hiss, Goblin rolled belly up. . .Then Valenka bit Goblin in the gills.” The scene takes place over two pages.
- After defeating Goblin shiver, the shiver is served to King Finnivus. Valenka takes part in the meal. “Valenka looked at the faces of her ex-shivermates arranged on a rock disc carried on the backs of four sea turtles. . . Halfway through the meal, Valenka discovered it wasn’t so bad. In fact, Streak was kind of tasty.”
- When Finnivus demands Gray’s head for dinner, Gray attacks. “Gray roared, rocketing forward and catching the Indi mariners by surprise. He rammed the nearest one in the liver and ricocheted off two others. . .” Gray is able to escape and no one is injured.
- The story ends with a multi-chapter battle. Many are killed, but most deaths are not described. During the battle, “Barkley barely avoided a bite at his left fin as he struggled to keep up. . . The richly tattooed armada commander, a young spinner shark, looked over an instant before Gray struck. The bite was clean and deep. Blood clouded the water as the spinner’s eyes rolled upward to the whites.” The Indi shiver retreats.
Drugs and Alcohol
- Heck is used once.
- Barkley tells another shark, “Suck algae, you big bully!”
- Gray calls someone a “chowderheaded flipper.”
- Two times, someone says, “Shut your cod hole before I rip off your tail and feed it to you.”
- Finnivus yells at someone. “You are nothing but an old, krill-faced, jelly-brained drifter that my father should have gotten rid of a long time ago!”
- Someone calls Gray a “jelly-brain.”
- Sharks that die go to the “Sparkle Blue.”