Book Review: Into the Abyss (Tom Swift, Young Inventor #1)
Publication Date: June 6, 2006
· Victor Appleton
by R.J. Carter
Published: June 22, 2006
Victor Appleton's teenaged inventor, Tom Swift, is back in all new adventures, ratcheted up for a new generation. (Yes, I know there's no real Victor Appleton and that it's just a house pseudonym used for decades for the Tom Swift stories.)
The new Tom Swift is the son of Tom Swift, Sr. and Mary Nestor. They still live in Shopton, where Mr. Swift oversees the research and development at the factory of wonders, Swift Enterprises. With his friends, Yolande Aponte and Bud Barclay, Tom experiences one adventure after another in this new series from Aladdin.
In this debut novel, Tom and his friends are testing a shark zapper that attacks a shark's sense of smell through electromagnetics. To perform the test, Tom slips into the Shopton Aquarium and enters a tank full of sharks while holding a some bloody ground beef. It's a good thing that Tom's also wearing another new invention, a titanium-laced wetsuit that protects a diver from deep sea pressures -- and shark bites.
The real adventure here, however, happens out at sea. Tom Senior and his crew will be laying out some seismic detectors along an Atlantic faultline to serve as an advance warning system for tsunamis. Tom talks his dad into letting him and his friends come along in the hopes that he'll get to test his shark zapper in the wild, but that hope gets dashed when Tom learns there's no room in the Swift submersible, the Jules Verne-1 after the three scientists and the equipment have been loaded.
Which is a good thing. Because after deploying only one sensor, another earthquake shifts the trench Mr. Swift is exploring, collapsing a cliff of silt and burying the Verne-1! Their only hope is for Tom to go after them in the untested and smaller prototype, the Verne-0. It's designed to be just as pressure-resistant as the larger model, and ought to do the trick.
Or, at least as Tom is fond of saying, that's how it works in theory. Tom has to work as quickly as possible, with limited air and little in the way of equipment, to rescue his dad. Any delay could be deadly for everybody. So naturally...
The Tom Swift adventures are full of suspenseful fun. The inventions are just on the edge of tomorrow -- things that seem right within reach rather than ultra-futuristic. Also, Tom's friends are written to be no slouches in the academic department. Yo is a high level computer programmer who can speak techno-babble just as much as Tom can. Bud Barclay is also a genius, just not in the scientific sense; the intrepid reporter for the school newspaper leans more toward literature and the arts.
I pushed all other thoughts out of my head and headed straight back toward the prototype. I was desperate now. In thirty minutes or so, my air tank would be empty. I had used my spare tank for the explosive charge. Every second counted.
I was making my way forward along the rock ledge when I felt the ground shaking beneath me.
Oh, no, I thought. Not now -- please not now!
In an instant, the whole ocean floor came alive and started shaking wildly. An aftershock!
The ground beneath me shifted violently, and I tumbled over the edge of the rock cliff, past the Verne-1, and down, down farther into the abyss!
Strap in and hold on tight for a thrill ride of smart juvenile fiction.