Thursday, September 10, 2009

Escape from the Island of Aquarius

Frank E. Peretti, well-known author of adult novels This Present Darkness and Piercing the Darkness, also writes The Cooper Kids Adventure Series, an exciting sequence of books about young teens, Jay and Lila, and their archaeologist father. In Escape from the Island of Aquarius, the second book in the series, the Cooper family journeys to the South Pacific in search of missing missionary Adam MacKenzie. No one has heard from MacKenzie for some time when a body turns up dead in a fishing boat carrying a note MacKenzie apparently wrote. MacKenzie's sending agency, the Christian Missionary Alliance is understandably concerned, and sends Dr. Cooper to investigate.

When Jay, Lila and Dr. Cooper arrive on Aquarius, they are surprised to find a modern community with electricity, running water and Western-style houses. They are also surprised to find Adam MacKenzie working on the island, and leading the villagers. However, Dr. Cooper begins to be suspicious when MacKenzie puts more faith in an ancient curse than he does in Jesus Christ. Soon, the Coopers realize that MacKenzie is an impostor, but not before they witness the death of a "cursed" villager; they are also kidnapped, imprisoned and attacked by deadly African tiger flies, and watch a pagan fire-walking ritual. Throughout all of these ordeals, the island itself is experiencing earthquake upon earthquake as it prepares to sink into the sea.

In typical Peretti fashion, our heroes and heroine are saved from one disaster only to be tortured by the next. As the Coopers get closer to the truth, Lila witnesses Jay and her father be thrown from a crumbling rope bridge into a raging whirlpool. She is captured, dressed in a white robe, and prepared as a sacrifice to a giant snake, the "god" of the island. Lila narrowly escapes being eaten when an unlikely character, the Polynesian guide Candle, saves her. Candle then takes Lila to a cavern underneath the whirlpool where the real Adam MacKenzie has rescued Jay and Dr. Cooper. By the time they arrive, Jay, Adam and Dr. Cooper have left and are trying to convince the islanders to flee the collapsing island in the two boats remaining on the island.

Lila is the hero of the day, and in an amazing feat of diving and detonating explosives, she saves the lives of her family and many islanders. Adam MacKenzie is also heroic as he goes from person to person to tell them about the saving power of Jesus, in order to prepare them for what looks like certain death.

At the end of the book, Peretti explains that the faith the islanders had in an impostor and the subsequent destruction of the island of Aquarius are parallels for the end of the world as described in the book of Revelation. He also emphasizes that all people deserve the chance to put their faith in Jesus Christ.

What I Like: No one could fault Peretti for writing boring, sleepy material. This exciting book kept me reading long after I should have been asleep! Full of plot twists and surprises, Escape from the Island of Aquarius is a fast-paced adventure novel sure to keep even the most reluctant reader interested.

I liked getting to know Lila's character better. She had a more minor role in the first book, and she is much better developed here. I especially like how she processes her feelings through prayer when she thinks her dad and brother have been killed.

I also liked how skillfully Peretti pointed out misconceptions about Christianity through discussions Jay, Lila and their dad have regarding statements the impostor makes. Readers will get a good dose of theology without even realizing it.

What I Dislike: The images of Lila being dressed in a white robe and lowered into a snake's pit as a sacrifice could be disturbing for some readers. She is also injured during her diving stunt at the end of the book and we are not told whether she walks again. Her father simply says, "Honey, I'm thoroughly convinced that with God's help you can do anything you set your mind too." This statement seems a bit simplistic and doesn't seem to acknowledge that sometimes people aren't healed, but overall this isn't a big issue in the book.

Overall Rating: Excellent

Age Appeal: 10-14

Publisher Info: CrosswayBooks, 1986; ISBN:978-1-58134-619-0 ; Paperback $5.99

Buy it Now at for $4.99

OR Buy it at for $5.99

Special Information: Read our other reviews of Frank Peretti's books!

Bookmark and Share

No comments: