Book Review by Aarene Storms: Useless Bay

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Useless Bay by M.J. Beaufrand

Pixie is the smallest (at 6 foot 2 inches) of the Gray quintuplets, and she tells half the story of the search for young Grant, who has mysteriously gone missing on Whidbey Island.

Henry, Grant's older brother, tells the other half of the story. There are suspects, red herrings, underwater searches, bloodhounds, mysterious Russians who might be spies, and plenty of twists and surprises in this short, fast-moving story.

There is much to like in this book. And yet...

The narrative contains so many biological and plot-editing goofs that I found myself frequently "yanked out of the story."

Human quintuplets are not born at 2 minute intervals (any midwife or delivery room nurse could tell you that).

Portuguese man-of-war jellyfish are warm water dwellers, and the water surrounding Whidbey Island is not ever warm enough to support them. Also, these animals inject a toxin, not an allergen, therefore, a bee sting kit is absolutely useless in treating the venom.

When a quint has a "sympathetic" reaction to the injury of another quint, shouldn't the reader expect the rest of the siblings to react also? (This question was asked and not answered within the text. Also, the next time a quint was severely injured, nobody else reacted except to say "ewww.")

I expect better from an author who reportedly lives in the Seattle area and has access to a world-class children's hospital, aquarium, and plenty of fine editors.

Maybe next time.

The events may not have happened; still, the story is true.
--R. Silvern

Aarene Storms, youth services librarian
Richmond Beach and Lake Forest Park Libraries, KCLS


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