September 26, 2015

Eco Warrior

by Philip Roy
Ronsdale Press
200 pp.
Ages 10+
March, 2015

If readers were ever trepidatious during Alfred’s world-wide adventures in the first six books in Philip Roy’s Submarine Outlaw series, nothing will match the opening scenes of Eco Warrior. In all Alfred’s zealousness for safety and for anticipating all possible outcomes, he could never foresee being set adrift in the ocean, watching the sub still runnng and pulling away from him.  It’s a shocking beginning but brings Alfred to a new appreciation for all he has.

Not surprising that the sixteen-year-old, already on a quest to become an environmentalist, is overhwlemed by the pessimism of an elderly sailor, Margaret, who believes “You can’t save the oceans now.  Nobody can.  It’s too late.” (pg. 30), though she is still impressed by his hope.  That hope takes him to Australia where he meets a passionate barrister who’d fought, unsuccessfully, to prevent a tanker from heading illegally into the Southern Ocean to refuel Japanese whaling ships that actually claim to be doing research!  That innocent conversation has Alfred suspected of sabotaging that tanker, and an outlaw again.

As he evades authorities in Australia and then Tasmania, Alfred becomes enmeshed in the anti-whaling activities of the Sea Shepherd Society, and accepting risks that he normally would not.  And between being swayed repeatedly by a persuasive environmentalist-inventor named Merwin, stalking and then colliding with a tanker, enjoying the company of a mother blue whale and her baby, and witnessing illegal activities asssociated with whaling, Alfred’s experiences in the Southern Ocean are more than plentiful.

It’s exciting to travel alongside Alfred, Hollie and Seaweed in the sub, and to visit continents and oceans worldwide.  Best is that Philip Roy is able to embed the reader in those adventures and onto the sub so easily.  As he has consistently done in all his Submarine Outlaw books, Philip Roy simply tells a story that includes making the setting more than just the time and place.  It is an integral character in the story, creating plotlines that are more than just the filler of many books.  While books can often take readers to new worlds that they could never imagine, Philip Roy takes those same readers to worldly situations and places they might someday experience but get to enjoy safely from within the pages of his books.  Some of those situations are truly harrowing, like Alfred’s near-death dumping into the ocean or the altercations of environmentalists with the illegal whalers and co-conspirators.  Luckily, young readers can immerse themselves in these same scenarios without tragedy and even face them as Alfred does, with the uncertainty of youth  but the wisdom of a seasoned traveller.  An extraordinary feat for Eco Warrior, a book of a mere 200 pages but a captivatingly deep one just the same.

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