It does not say anywhere on the cover that this book was written for children, but the two key characters are teenagers, and it is written in a direct style that should go down well with a younger readership.
The storyline is an interesting blend of three elements. The Boxing Day tsunami of 2004 happens fairly early in the book after a bit of scene-setting, and the main part of the story is about the survivors and how they coped. It reads realistically and the narrative gives a good feel for what it must have been like, even if it cannot convey the actual experience of the engulfing water, the chaos and the stench of death.
The secondary storyline is that the area was subject to guerrilla warfare, with freedom fighters and the army both attempting to control the area where the tsunami struck. Again, the storyline reads persuasively, with references peppering the chapters to give an idea of the ever-present tension as ordinary people have to cope with the intrusion of violence in their lives.
The third storyline is the changing relationship between the two leading characters – an American girl who grows up through having to cope and a local boy who helps her get medical help for her brother. This relationship is not overplayed as a romance, and again is reasonably convincing.
These three themes are interwoven and build up to a series of crises which take the story along to an unexpected conclusion. A straightforward read, but gripping.
The biggest surprise for us, though, was that the author had travelled in the area hit by the tsunami both before and after the event, and his knowledge of the impact and people’s reactions obviously underlies the book’s realism. He worked as a volunteer relief aid worker in the immediate aftermath of the disaster and a portion of the royalties are going to further the relief work in the area, so you can feel doubly good about buying this book.
Lewis, R. (2006) The Killing Sea Simon and Schuster
ISBN-10 : 1416926283
ISBN-13 : 9781416926283