When I picked up Tentacles by Roland Smith, I had no idea it was a sequel (the first book being Cryptid Hunters). But I quickly discovered that it didn’t matter. Not only is there a list of dramatis personae at the beginning of the book, but Roland Smith is very deft at refreshing plot details without info-dumping the events of the previous book on unsuspecting readers.
In Tentacles, Marty, his cousin Grace, and his friend Luther join Marty’s uncle on a journey to capture a live giant squid — something that’s never been done before. But they’ll have to deal with a ship that might be haunted, a pair of dinosaur eggs that are ready to hatch, and sabotage courtesy of the evil Noah Blackwood.
The heroes and villains of Tentacles have a somewhat hokey, comic book feel to them, but this is a major part of its charm. Marty, Luther, Grace, and the various good guys tend to be super-geniuses with an enormous amount of skills and integrity. Even so, they manage to be well-written and full-fledged characters in their own right. And though even the kids are super-geniuses, they feel like kids. A common mistake in fiction for younger readers is that an adult author will have no idea how a kid behaves, but though they have many skills (some of them a little outrageous), Marty and Luther are very much boys. They perhaps have a bit more maturity than most boys their age (and with their level of intelligence one would hope so!) but their actions don’t completely belie their ages. Although I would like to mention that no thirteen-year-old boy I ever knew (and I think I’m a little bit less removed from 13 than Mr. Smith) would ever say something quite so dorky as “Duh du jour”! Grace, though, is unfortunately not present enough to get a feeling for her character.
Likewise, the villains are generally super-smart and/or extremely wily in a comic book sort of way. They’re a little over the top but I was having way too much fun to care much.
The plot of Tentacles might be straight-forward but it’s a real blast. Towards the end it gets really tense and exciting, keeping me turning pages right up to the somewhat cliff-hanger ending. My husband (who is reading and enjoying it very much as well) and I plan to pick up a copy of Cryptid Hunters soon. Perhaps that’ll hold us over until the next Cryptid Hunters book. And hopefully it won’t be too long a wait!
Cryptid Hunters — (2004-2014) Ages 9-12. Publisher: After their parents are lost in an accident, thirteen-year old twins Grace and Marty are whisked away to live with their Uncle Wolfe-an uncle that they didn’t even know they had! The intimidating Uncle Wolfe is an anthropologist who has dedicated his life to finding cryptids, mysterious creatures believed to be long extinct.