icebreakerFor children in grades 4 through 8

On the Oyster, an ancient and giant icebreaker ship, everyone belongs to one of three groups—there is Grease Alley for the engineers; Braid for the officers; and Dufftown for the cooks. There is little intermixing between the groups, except to trade goods and services and to make sure the ship is safe.

As an orphan whose parents were thrown overboard when she was a baby, twelve-year-old Petrel belongs to neither group. She spends most of her time hiding from bullies and trying to scavenge enough food to survive. To most of the ship’s inhabitants she is invisible, and to those who notice her, she is simply known as the Nothing Girl. Her only companions are two talking rats, Mister Smoke and Missus Slink.

The ship’s tribes occasionally fight, but they are united in keeping the ship moving along the same course it has been following for 300 years and in protecting it against the Anti-Machinists—a powerful group who believes anything mechanical is evil and should be destroyed. And while all the documentation of the ship’s original purpose has long since vanished, many of the Oyster’s residents believe a “sleeping captain” will return to lead once the reign of the Anti-Machinists ends.

One to avoid trouble and stay hidden, Petrel suddenly finds herself thrust into the limelight after her actions cause an unconscious boy to be rescued from an iceberg and brought aboard the ship. Untrusting and fearful of strangers, the ship’s crew have little patience for the mysterious boy who claims to know neither his name, nor how he came to be alone on the ice.

Fearful that they will soon return him to the ice, Petrel rescues the boy and hides him. Little does she know the boy has his own secret agenda and he may end up destroying her and all she holds dear.

Book one is a powerful start to Tanner’s latest trilogy. Petrel and the supporting cast are well drawn and readers are sure to be hooked from the beginning thanks to the author thoughtfully parceling out the clues. Placing the Icebreaker and her tenants in a world where the powerful subscribe to anti-technological way of thinking is an intriguing scenario and makes for a dramatic build up and a satisfying conclusion. Readers are sure to anticipate the next episode in this enthralling adventure series.