The Octopus Under the Bridge is a middle grade dystopian book that was sent to me by the author. After American troops were deployed into the Middle East to search for missing teenagers, a bomb was dropped on the White House that decimated most of the East Coast. Since then, food is scarce, electricity is a luxury, and rival groups like the Collectivist and Phoenix fight and terrorize the populations. After the President is shot, 14-year-old Jay Everton's parents send him away to live with his grandmother on the Key Peninsula. But when Jay learns of his father's secret work and Phoenix attacking his family and friends, he must sail back to Tacoma and save his sister.
For a book this short, I am surprised that The Octopus Under the Bridge still contained a developed plot structure with round characters! Jay is shy and intelligent, and I liked watching him gain the confidence to stand up for himself and his family. The hint of romance with Sarah was also nice. The setting is eerie and mysterious. I love the amount of imagery and other figurative devices that were used to make the setting rich and full of suspense.
I like how the book contradicted the Guilt by Association Fallacy, which unfortunately is common in times of conflict, as is assumption of good and evil. The Collectivists and the Phoenix both have major issues with the current government, but have different ideas and ways to get there- similar to the octopus and the squid. Initially I had a hard time understanding the theme and metaphor around the octopus, but further into the book it did make a lot more sense. Well, now I know that Washington is famous for octopi!
I will say that the cover definitely needs some work to convey the seriousness of the story. Never from reading the synopsis on Amazon (or the nonexistent one on goodreads) or looking at the cover did I guess that this would be an exciting dystopian book! While the ending is climatic and does conclude Jay's specific journey, I am still very curious as to what happens to the nation and Tacoma. I wish it was longer, and I hope Kinerk writes a sequel! However, the length could make it more appealing for younger readers.
I recommend this book!
Title: The Octopus Under the Bridge
Author: Alice Kinerk
Publisher: Alice Kinerk
Rating: 4 Stars
Rating: 4 Stars