BOOK REVIEWS

Here's what the critics said...
               ...about THE AQUANAUTS:
"There are plenty of thrills per page! A good adventure story with a great cast of characters" --CM Magazine, Manitoba Library Association     "more...

"[Lunn] crafts a wonderful story about some great characters caught in a catastrophe and how they must be both brave and smart in order to get out alive" --Colleen Mondor --booksluts.com     "more...

"Lunn deftly explains the notion of black holes, plays with time, and takes readers on the ride of their lives!" Kids Read Magazine    "more...

"Good new science YA science fiction is hard to come by, and The Aquanauts fills the void nicely...an exciting adventure, and a whirlwind trip through time make this a great read" -- Wands and Worlds    "more...

"John Lunn has written a gripping thriller based on an interesting thesis- an exciting, well-crafted, and unusual thriller" - Deakin Newsletter    "more...

               ...about THE MARINER'S CURSE:
"Kids of all ages will LOVE this book" --An amazon reader.    more...

"A nicely crafted yarn by first-time novelist John Lunn. The adventure aspect of this novel is imaginative" -- Quill & Quire     more...

"Suspenseful and even slightly frightening...powerful and sometimes painful, this is a wonderful book." -- www.lookingglassreview.com     more...

"'Mariner's Curse' both exciting and funny" -- Keene Sentenel. more...

"Youngsters have always been fascinated by the Titanic and will enjoy the connection here, along with the hair-raising chases and escapes" –– School Library Journal     more...


THE MARINER'S CURSE

Amazon.com Review
Reviewer: An Amazon.com Customer, April 28, 2004 This is the BEST!!!!!!!,
This is a very good book. It gets better with each page. There is one character who comes in in the second chapter and brightens the whole story up. That person is a very mischievous, outgoing and daring girl. The girl, at her school is very popular. Meanwhile, Rory is called a GEEK at his school and is in love with a computer that his dad got him. Since his parents got divorced, and he does NOT like his mom's new husband, it is really awkward for him when he has to go along on their honeymoon!
The characters in this book remind me alot of some of the people in my own school. It is a really THRILLING story that I could not put down after the first chapter.
Kids of all ages will LOVE this book. If you like excitement, and a great story with really interesting and creative characters, this book is for you. And, if you have ever been on a cruise ship before, you will really relate to this book. (I never have been on a cruise, but now I feel like I was really there). Good book to take to camp and share with your whole cabin. Not too scary, but tons of fun to read. Amazing story, interesting twists and really gets you thinking. Super cool book!!


From Quill & Quire, Canada's Magazine of Book News and Views, March 2004
A high seas adventure, ghost story, and problem novel all in one. The Mariner's Curse is a nicely crafted yarn by first-time novelist John Lunn. The adventure aspect of this novel is imaginative, but what really stands out is its psychological content. There's Oedipal conflict, repetition compulsions, and lots of the uncanny - catnip for amateur psychiatrists, and fun reading generally.
The story follows the sleuthing adventures of 12-year-old Rory Dugan, who is accompanying his mother and oafish new stepfather on their honeymoon cruise. Rory has been depressed for years, ever since the drowning death of his younger brother and his parent's subsequent divorce. But he is fascinated by ships and water and has an encyclopedic knowledge of Titanic history, which is what prompts him to shadow a suspicious passenger on board. The suspect, Mr. Morgan, is an irascible old man who turns out to be the accursed mariner referred to in the novel's title. He is also Rory's psychic counterpart, as both characters are caught in the grip of unpleasant pasts. Imagine an emotionally withdrawn Jim Hawkins tailing an especially edgy Ancient Mariner, and you get a good sense of this pair. Rory also has a sleuthing partner, Lucy, a 13-year-old who befriends him and draws him out with her extroverted, often brash, personality. In his dealings with Lucy and Mr. Morgan, Rory begins to work through his feelings of grief and guilt over his brother's death. The novel's climax seems overly elaborate and a bit confusing but the conclusion is satisfying.
- Bridget Donald, a Vancouver writer.


From www.lookingglassreview.com The Online Children's Book Review Magazine. March 2004
Rory Dugan has loved ships and the sea for as long as he can remember. At last he is getting the opportunity to go on a real ocean liner. Unfortunately the trip is his mother's honeymoon. She is now married to 'Poundcake' Eddie, whom Rory cannot stand. With the constant bickering going on between Poundcake and Rory, the trip does not promise to be a calm stress-free time.
Rory is a shy, very quiet, bookish boy. After a dreadful accident when is little brother Ian died by drowning, Rory cut himself off from the world. He immersed himself in his computer, books, and his passion for all things to do with the sea and ships. Real people are too difficult for him to cope with, whereas imaginary ones are safe.
When the discordant family arrive on the ship practically the first thing Rory does is to knock over an old man by accident. Rory is very sorry and upset, and the old that he knocks down is furious. He is also frightening. There is something about him that is not right, something sinister.
It isn't long before Rory sees the old man (whom he calls "Seadog") again. Though the old man is more congenial he is still very strange. Rory finds him in the bowels of the ship and spies on him. What can the old man be doing down there? Who is he really and what is his connection with the legendary Titanic?
Confused at to what is going on on the ship, Rory then makes a friend. Lucy is a sparkling and outgoing girl, apparently fearless and eager to find out more about the mysterious Seadog. It is to Lucy that Rory goes when he discovers that the old man who calls himself "Morgan" is someone else, or rather something else, than he appears to be.
Caught up in events beyond his control Rory finds his thoughts drifting back to that awful day when his brother Ian drowned right in front of him. Somehow the goings on on the ship are tied to Ian's death and yet nothing seems to make any sense.
Suspenseful and even slightly frightening, this is a story which brings together the myths of the sea, the stories of famous ship wrecks, and the sufferings of a guilt-ridden heart. We watch as Rory struggles to put together the pieces of this peculiar and ultimately deadly puzzle. With great skill the author feeds us clues about the fearful "Morgan." We are drawn into this powerful tale and find ourselves hoping desperately that Rory finds the answers before he and everyone of the ship are wiped out by some malevolent force. Powerful and sometimes painful, this is a wonderful book for those interested in the sea and its mysteries.


From The Keene Sentinel, Keene New Hampshire's Daily Newspaper - March 28 2004
'Mariner's Curse' both exciting and funny
by Nancy Newton, contributing writer John Lunn's debut novel "The Mariner's Curse" is a suspenseful and thrilling mystery written for children nine and up.
The Newport resident's tale starts on an immense luxury liner. Twelve-year-old Rory Dugan is crossing the ocean with his mom and her new husband.
Rory has been enthralled with ships for as long as he can remember and this voyage is a dream come true for him. After his younger brother's accidental drowning and his parent's subsequent divorce, Rory has pulled inward, withdrawing from family and friends.
Crossing the ocean on the Sea Lion is the new family's attempt to put the past behind them. Prior to this journey, Rory spent most of his time on the computer, reading and watching movies.
"He thought everything about himself was gawky and stupid and never liked looking in the mirror." Lunn writes. "still under five feet, he was a bit short for twelve. He was all elbows and knees, tripping into things. And in geeky wire glasses he figured he was the goofiest looking kid in school."
Before the ship even departs from Southampton, England, Rory fortuitously collides with Morgan, a grumpy old mand with whom Rory has repeated unsettling encounters with.
Rory also meets Lucy, a tall black haired girl about his age and a fellow passenger. She is outgoing and friendly and able to pull Rory out of his shell like no one else has been able to do. Rory is somewhat confused by her interest in him.
She tells him like it is. "There's no one to hang out with on this tub and I'm bored stiff." she tells him. "There are only fifteen kids. I scoped them out already. A couple of real sissy girls, a bunch of rugrats, and some bratty little boys. That leaves you and me."
Together the trail Morgan into restricted areas, speculating on whether this ominous old sailor is a spy or a ghost. Does Morgan have a connection to the legedary Titanic? Rory's vast knowledge of ships and old shipwrecks helps him unravel this mystery as he is tested in ways he could never imagine.
It will take real courage to solve this puzzle.
The Mariner's Curse is more than an action-packed adventure.
The book is also firmly rooted in an exploration of friendship and belonging, and of family - what it takes to build one up and what it takes to tear one apart. The them of redemption, too, is skillfully woven throughout the story.
In an interview, Lunn said he has always wanted to publish a book having been inspired by his mother, a Canadian children's book author.
A daydreamer growing up, Lunn also was introverted like Rory.
But that's where the similarities between Lunn and his main character end. The premise of his story, he said, started with "What if?" "What if a boy was on a ship at sea that was in danger of going down?"
Lunn explained that he began writing when he had to turn one of his daydreams into a story because it was so complicated that if he didn't write it down, he would forget it.
When he isn't writing, Lunn makes flutes, as he has done since he was a teenager. He took flute lessons as a boy and was hired as an apprentice to his flute teacher's husband who was a flute maker.
Lunn also is an accomplished musician, silversmith, film-maker, pilot, local politician and environmental activist.
His debut novel is filled with wonderful passages of figurative language, and so captivating that it's hard to put down.
Well-researched and also laced with many humorous moments, it is a bool that will help many teens realize they are not in the 'adolescent boat' alone.
Underlying the mystery and adventure, Lunn has successfully and sensitively woven themes of friendship, family and growing up. I would recommend this book for middle school students, and look forward to Lunns' next novel -- possibly a science fiction adventure.


From School Library Journal, June 2004
Grade 5-8–– Rory Dugan, 12, is delighted to be going on an ocean voyage, but not so delighted that the occasion is his mother's honeymoon. Rory has always loved ships, but he turns out to be twice haunted on this one––first by memories of a younger brother who drowned in a swimming-pool accident several years earlier and just as persistently by an old man who claims to be a sailor from the Titanic who needs Rory's help to prevent a similar disaster. The boy enlists the aid of Lucy, a fellow passenger, to deal with Morgan, the grizzled old salt, and they soon find themselves caught in a whirlpool of sabotage, mystery, and danger.
The contrast of contemporary kids dealing with a character from the early 20th century is interesting, but this hodgepodge of characters and story lines has a hard time coming together coherently. Rory loves ships and the sea, but he is also deathly afraid of water. He has personal and family issues stemming from guilt over the accident, his parents' divorce, and resentment of his new stepfather. And then there is the mystery of Morgan, the old sailor––is he there to rescue the ship or destroy it?
Youngsters have always been fascinated by the Titanic and will enjoy the connection here, along with the hair-raising chases and escapes, as long as they don't ask too many questions about who, what, and why.––Susan L. Rogers, Chestnut Hill Academy, PA
Copyright ©© Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

THE AQUANAUTS

REVIEW: CM Magazine, Manitoba Library Association
“John Lunn's novel combines science fiction, adventure, suspense and even a dash of romance, all of which will keep young readers turning the pages…Lunn portrays believable young teens with clearly drawn character traits and appropriate language. They are not stereotyped as to their roles in the adventure. He weaves themes of friendship, belonging and teamwork into the story in a subtle way…The writing is creative and imaginative and certainly fast-paced enough to keep even reluctant readers interested. The 220 pages are divided into 18 chapters, and there are plenty of thrills per page! Younger teens with an appetite for science fiction literature will enjoy the strange and wacky underwater world created by Lunn. Others will focus on a good adventure story with a great cast of characters. The Aquanauts is a novel with wide appeal.”     ~   Highly Recommended.

www.booksluts.com, a monthly web magazine and daily blog dedicated to those who love to read.
By Colleen Mondor
I lucked into another surprising sf novel recently, John Lunn's very smart and suspenseful, The Aquanauts. This is a perfect book for not only budding physicists (or anyone interested in black holes or time travel) but also for teenage girls who might not be sure that science fiction is for them. I hate -- let me stress that -- I HATE how one genre of books always seems to be directed to boys or girls over the other. Science fiction in particular is such a great literary destination for any reader interested in limitless plot potential and fascinating science but it seems to get pigeon-holed on the "boy" side of the library. Personally, I barely passed physics in high school and don't even get me started about chemistry, but that does not mean that I don't have an interest in these subjects -- it just means that my teachers sucked and I had little chance to learn anything the conventional way. Lunn's book is perfect for someone like me who is curious but maybe a little intimidated -- he crafts a wonderful story about some great characters caught in a catastrophe and how they must be both brave and smart in order to get out alive.

The Aquanauts is first and foremost about Greta and her father and a relationship that has left him buried in his research and the daughter with way too much time on her hands. In an attempt to learn just what her Dad is doing, Greta asks to accompany him off the coast of Oregon to the deep underwater lab where he and a small group of "labbies" and techs are hard at work on… something. Once she arrives Greta meets the three other non-adult residents: Jules, who is already practicing for her career in the military, Marco a seventeen-year old genius and his little brother Nicky. In short order some bad things happen and the true nature of just what the mysterious research is about begins to materialize. The kids are forced to figure out on their own how to save themselves and everyone else. Along the way there is some traveling through time and consideration of the nature of black holes and the secrets of the universe. Most significantly, Greta learns just how horrible people can be to each other when they wrap themselves within the distanced shield of "science."

I liked the adventure in The Aquanauts but I also thought it was very cool that Lunn made danger a real element to the story. This could have been a silly little lark of a book, where stuff happens and the kids prevail and they all get patted on the head and sent on their way. The four "aquanauts" find themselves literally running for their lives and the lives of everyone they love in the course of this story. They are physically hurt, they struggle against major obstacles and in the end they suffer some losses -- they pay a price for getting caught up in the uncontrollable events that surround them. To soften the blow, Lunn gives readers a nice little romance and more than a few laughs along the way, all of which combine to make this a great read. I have a very hard time finding decent young adult science fiction, and The Aquanauts is certainly the type of book that is tailor-made to start readers on a lifetime of sf reading.


REVIEW: Kids Read Magazine
Recommended Reading list.
"The Aquanauts"
This novel by the multi-talented author John Lunn is perfect for the young reader who enjoys science fiction and adventure. Lunn deftly explains the notion of black holes, plays with time, and takes readers on the ride of their lives!"


Wands and Worlds © Copyright 2005
Sixteen-year-old Greta Kovachi has no idea what she is getting into when she takes a summer job helping out in the undersea lab where her scientist father works. But things go badly almost right away. To start with, Greta, a self-styled goth girl and rebel, doesn't hit it off with the other young people in the habitat: Jules, a by-the-book miltary school student; Marco, a scientific prodigy; and young Nicky, who is likeable but a bit of a pest. Then, an accident happens in the secret lab, and the four young people are thrust into an adventure involving time travel, a black hole, and a mad scientist. The teens must learn to work together to try to save themselves, their parents, and the habitat. In the process they find that they have a lot in common, forge a bond of friendship that will last a lifetime, and learn that together they can accomplish anything.

Good new science YA science fiction is hard to come by, and The Aquanauts fills the void nicely. Interesting and well-developed characters, an exciting adventure, and a whirlwind trip through time make this a great read. The Aquanauts is an fun adventure and a satisfying science fiction story. Teens will identify with the young people in the book, each coping with the pressures of growing up in his or her own way. This is no cartoon adventure; the four young people are real, fleshed out characters that ring true, and the pain and challenges they experience feel real as well.


THE DEAKIN NEWSLETTER
Newsletter and reviews written by Dr. Andrea Deakin. John Lunn has written a gripping thriller based on an interesting thesis- basically, how to escape from a particle of time. It begins with a rather unpleasantly aggressive sixteen-year-old. Greta Kovachi is a black finger-nailed, much-pierced, chip-on-her-shoulder teen. Gradually we realize that a deal of this is to do with her loneliness. She is the daughter of a brilliant scientist who has no time to spend with her. Her mother is dead, and her school mates believe that she is decidedly weird. She lacks both good companionship and affection. Her father decides to send for her to spend some time with him in a laboratory habitat at the bottom of the ocean. The only other young people there are a young boy, Nicky, his very bright older brother, Marco, who is close to Greta in age, and a slightly older authoritarian young woman, Jules. The trip is for a week, and Greta feels she can cope for that long, but then an accident in the laboratory sends them millions of years into the future, the four young people together trying to save themselves, and the others who are trapped in a particle of time.

The characters are well-drawn, there is plenty of tension and excitement, but the scientific ideas behind the story might prove difficult for all but the best readers. It is still an exciting, well-crafted, and unusual thriller.