Polaris by Michael Northrop (review)
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Reviewed by
Northrop, Michael Polaris. Scholastic, 2017 [288p]
ISBN 978-0-545-29716-5 $16.99
Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 4-7

Six young crew members aboard the armed merchantman Polaris, on an 1830 mission of exploration, are locked inside the captain’s quarters as an uprising takes place and the mutineers flee on the longboat after setting charges to blow up the ship. The kids escape their confines and defuse the explosives, but they are flummoxed as to the cause of the mutiny and how they will sail themselves to safety. They sense this has to do with a disastrous shore party that returned from the Amazon forest with only half its members, one of whom was suffering from an unnamed malady, but that isn’t much of a clue for the kids to go on. The matter soon becomes clear, though, when amid their struggles to manage the undermanned ship and to settle matters of discipline and hierarchy, one of their own number is discovered below deck, where he mutated into a murderous hybrid creature—part fungus, part insect, and part his own human core. This has just about everything a thriller reader could ask for: a closed-room mystery, survival at sea, conflict and possible treachery within the ranks, and a generous dollop of mad science fiction. It also boasts the solid writing and breakneck pacing to recommend it as a quick pick for armchair adventurers—and for middle-graders with a fiction book report due on Monday. [End Page 126]

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