The Skeleton Coast
The Skeleton Coast
He looked at her anxiously. “You know as soon as I get back to my ship, I’m going to have to tell them about you.”
“Do you really have to?”
“It’s my duty,” Cherry said. “So the less I know about your plans, the better.”
Annalie felt a surge of gratitude to this surprising young man. He was letting her escape in the best way he knew how. “Thank you,” she said.
She was about to turn and go when Cherry spoke again. “I don’t know what the real story is with you and your father,” he said, “but I think you’d be an asset to the Admiralty if you ever came back.”
“They’d never have me,” Annalie said incredulously, “even if I wanted to. Which I don’t.”
Cherry frowned, perplexed. “I don’t know who you think we are,” he said, “but we’re the good guys. Really.”
“Some of you are, “Annalie said.
Cherry shook his head and smiled. “You should go.”
“Thank you,” Annalie said again, and then she turned and hurried away into the crowd.
In this final installment in the “cli-fi” “The Flooded Earth” trilogy, Will, his sister Annalie, and their friends, Essie and Pod, continue their journey across the seas on their boat, the Sunfish, to find Will and Annalie’s father, Spinner, one of a group of scientists hiding the secrets to the device that has resulted in the world’s being flooded beyond recognition. Having just missed finding Spinner in the poverty-stricken nation of Brundisi, they resolve to find him in Sundia where the nations of the earth have founded The Ark, a reserve of the world’s plant and animal life. Attacked by pirates, Annalie finds herself taken hostage along with Lt. Cherry, a sailor from the Admiralty who abets her escape. After rescuing Pod’s sister, Blossom, from cruise-ship slavery, the group brave storms, killer whales, and a dangerous trip through the Sundian desert, finally being reunited with Spinner at the Ark. Followed there by their nemesis, Avery Bennett, Spinner has no choice but to destroy the research he and his team had spread throughout their hideouts. He and the kids escape back to their home country of Dux while Bennett is arrested for his rogue ways. As the group returns to a normal life, Spinner reveals that the secret research still exists in copies buried under the Ark by animals.
The Skeleton Coast, by continuing the highly credible adventure, moral questions, and imaginative view of a climate-ravaged future of the previous two installments in the series, brings the story to an exciting and satisfying conclusion. As always, characterization is strong, with the introduction of the superstitious and strong-willed Blossom and the naïve yet principled Lt. Cherry as strong additions to the cast. Again, the disproportionate effects of climate change on the poorest is set in stark relief, with Blossom articulating it the strongest when she says, “Some people have so much, and other people have nothing.” The question of “who are the good guys” is deeply explored, the plight of refugees eerily prescient, and the sailing and survival skills of the kids put to thrilling test as usual.
In bringing the story to a conclusion, there are occasions where things seem a little too good to be true: Essie’s father uses his lawyers and his wealth to get them all allowed into Dux; the Sundian navy apprehends Bennett’s ship while not noticing that the Sunfish is also illegally in their territory; Spinner is shot by Bennett but manages to survive until they get to Dux with only a t-shirt tourniquet as treatment. Even the ambiguous morals of the Admiralty are somewhat explained away by Spinner when he says, “They were good—mostly” and then enrolls Annalie back in an Admiralty school. But the question ultimately raised—should we destroy the research that ruined the world for fear it will fall into the wrong hands, or keep it alive so we can use it to avoid another mistake—is, nonetheless, kept unanswered, and the happy ending ultimately satisfying but not sappy.
Todd Kyle is the CEO of the Newmarket Public Library in Ontario and Vice-Chair of the Canadian Federation of Library Associations-Fédération canadienne des associations de bibliothèques.