Daughter of the Deep brings the reader on a sci-fi undersea adventure, full of danger, intrigue, and family secrets. I love that Riordan has embraced diversity in his recent books. This one features an Indian-American main character, a Black Mormon secondary character, and an autistic secondary character. I felt like the autistic rep was especially good because it showed Ester's autistic traits in a truly positive light and specifically spotlighted her empathy (a trait that is stereotypically missing from autistic characters). It's refreshing to see an autistic character portrayed this way.
The story itself is action-packed and filled with scientific facts (and fiction). Kids who love the sea will be excited about the characters' adventures, and especially with the inclusion of dolphins and an octopus who play an important role in the book. Kids who love high-tech gadgetry will also have plenty to excite them, as Riordan pulls many of Verne's imagined futuristic tech into the story. The characters are well-drawn (though for some reason I had a little bit of a hard time truly feeling Ana's pain at the loss of her family---I think it was just because the book was so fast-paced that there wasn't much time for her to dwell on her feelings). And there is a twist that will surprise many readers and keep them guessing!
I've never read 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea or its companion, which is kind of a shame because I do think this book would be even better if you had a connection to all the references. Don't get me wrong, you definitely do not have to have read the classics in order to enjoy this story and most of the references are spelled out for any reader who doesn't know the source material (which, let's face it, will be most of them), but I just think the reading experience would have been even more enhanced if I'd read Verne. I could definitely see some curious kids deciding to pick up the classic sci-fi adventure story because of this book, though, and that's a huge positive. (I actually kind of love that Ana mentions that the books are kind of hard to slog through---just so kids know what they're in for. :-) )
I highly recommend Riordan's newest book for fans of adventure and kids who love the idea of a trip under the sea!
***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher via Rockstar Book Tours so I could provide an honest review. No compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***