In the first volume of the hauntingly beautiful and tragic Children of the Whales, readers met the strange colony living on the Mud Whale, an island in a sea of sand.
The Committee of Elders guides them all, the Unmarked care for and teach the others, and the Marked, those who wield the psychic power of thymia, die young. But the even tenor of life changes with the discovery of a girl from the outside, the emotionless Lykos. Archivist Chakuro records all of these changes, even when more strangers arrive and rain destruction and death upon the island.
The second volume opens in the middle of a violent massacre, as the invading soldiers kill indiscriminately. The inhabitants of the Mud Whale react in their own ways: Chakuro, destroyed by grief for his dead friend Sami tries to protect himself with thymia. Leader of the rebels, Ouni, explodes into violence and then rails against the destruction of all the hopes and dreams he and his friends had of the outside world. And enigmatic Lykos’s secrets begin to be revealed. As the surviving inhabitants struggle to understand the calamity that has fallen upon them, learn more of the secrets hidden from them for many years, and decide what to do next, the Committee of Elders makes a startling decision. Nearly destroyed by grief for his dead friends, Chakuro nevertheless struggles to continue his task as Archivist, recording the dwindling lives of the children of the Mud Whale.
Umeda’s art captures both the beauty and peace of the Mud Whale and its violent destruction. The elaborate inner workings of the Mud Whale are revealed, as well as the memories and ghosts embedded in the sand. They flow through the pages of the book in curving lines and small details. The violent reactions of the Mud Whale inhabitants stand in sharp contrast against the emotionless masks of the attackers, with twisted faces, tears, and shock. Across it all, the glowing tattoos signalling the use of thymia proliferate, marking the already-Marked and the very landscape itself.
Teen readers who have plunged into the world of the Mud Whale will be caught up in the next installment of the story and eager to learn more of this strange and tragic ancient fantasy world.
Children of the Whales, vol. 2
by Abi Umeda
Publisher Age Rating: T+