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Above World (Above World #1)

3.90  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,267 Ratings  ·  204 Reviews
Thirteen-year-old Aluna has lived her entire life under the ocean with the Coral Kampii in the City of Shifting Tides. But after centuries spent hidden from the Above World, her colony’s survival is in doubt. The Kampii’s breathing necklaces are failing, but the elders are unwilling to venture above water to seek answers. Only headstrong Aluna and her friend Hoku are stubb ...more
Hardcover, 356 pages
Published February 14th 2012 by Candlewick Press (first published February 12th 2012)
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Daniela I would put this book at upper elementary/middle school. It is available in my elementary school library for kids 3-5th grade. The protagonist is 13,…moreI would put this book at upper elementary/middle school. It is available in my elementary school library for kids 3-5th grade. The protagonist is 13, and novels generally tend to make a character a year or two older than the target reader. (less)
Daniela The protagonist in this story is 13, with her friend at 12. While it has some fantasy content, it is generally appropriate for upper elementary/middle…moreThe protagonist in this story is 13, with her friend at 12. While it has some fantasy content, it is generally appropriate for upper elementary/middle school.(less)

Community Reviews

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Jan 20, 2011 Stephanie rated it it was amazing
I was incredibly lucky - I got to read this book multiple times in manuscript form, and it is AWESOME. Super-fun science-fiction adventure for kids, with genetically-engineered mermaids and girls with wings AND incredible fighting skills. Deep, important friendships and sweet first romance. This book has everything, and I love it so much.
Dec 27, 2011 Krystal rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arc

This book has got to be one of the best dystopians I have managed to get my hands on. The world created by Author Jenn Reese is rich and extremely detailed as well as varied. The reader meets the main characters, Aluna and Hoku, right off the bat. They are both very likable and make nice foils for each other. Aluna is far more impetuous and inquisitive while Hoku is more cautious and shy. The two seem like an unlikely pair, but their differing personalities add to their charms.

Aluna and Hoku ar
Jun 09, 2012 Hallie rated it really liked it
From LJ write up.

Goodreads synopsis: Thirteen-year-old Aluna has lived her entire life under the ocean with the Coral Kampii in the City of Shifting Tides. But after centuries spent hidden from the Above World, her colony’s survival is in doubt. The Kampii’s breathing necklaces are failing, but the elders are unwilling to venture above water to seek answers. Only headstrong Aluna and her friend Hoku are stubborn and bold enough to face the terrors of land to search for way to save their people.

Brandy Painter
Jul 09, 2012 Brandy Painter rated it it was amazing
Originally posted at Random Musings of a Bibliophile.

I was a little hesitant to pick up Above World by Jenn Reese despite the numerous glowing reviews and comments for it I had read. It sounded dystopian, and I don't like dystopian. Finally all the praise had me curious enough to pick it up. (Also it has a beautiful cover.) Yes, it does have some shades of dystopian, but this is a book that is so much more than that. Reese sets her story in a futuristic world that is so foreign that it could be
Tara Hall
Nov 13, 2011 Tara Hall rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Teen boys, Middle grade boys, dystopian fans
Shelves: reviewed, arcs
I was skeptical about this story when I picked up the ARC. But it won me over with a fantastic dystopian world, strong, unique characters, and great suspense. This is a must-read for fantasy and scifi fans of all ages!

Somehow Reese has managed to combine The Little Mermaid with an action dystopian. It sounds crazy, I know. But it works oh-so-well. It's not just mermaids, though, there are harpies, centaurs, even half-dolphin half-human creatures we don't even have a name for. All have their own
Apr 14, 2013 Kaede rated it liked it

3.5 stars; History is not a fixed truth. It changes with the speaker.

Jenn Reese's Above World is a story full of originality and creativity, turning the concept of underwater inhabitants into one with elaborate detail of diverse features.

But contrary to the previous statement, my biggest and sole problem with Above World was it's simplicity. While it serves satisfactorily as a transition from middle grade to juvenile young adult, any reader used to or accustomed only to complex pieces of litera
Originally reviewed on The Book Smugglers

Aluna has lived her entire life - all thirteen years - under the sea. She is one of the Kampii, a water-born splinter group of humans that took to the oceans generations ago, to escape the death and wastes of the earth above. Aluna loves the water and her people, but she's frustrated with the future that has been set for her with the Kampii. Because their numbers are ever dwindling, all Kampii women are prohibited from the exciting and dangerous jobs (lik
Jessica (Books: A true story)
Above World was an interesting mix of mythological creatures and our modern world of technology. You’ll find mermaids and computers in one breath. I was pleasantly surprised by the dystopian undertone to it all that gave it some wonderful depth. In this fascinating world that Jenn has built, there are several cultures based on mythological creatures that descended from humans when there wasn’t room left on the earth for them to live. These new cultures live in the sea and the sky and other place ...more
Christa  Seeley
Originally reviewed at Hooked on Books

When I started reading Above World I was expecting a pretty basic middle grade title. A fun fantasy story that I could lose myself in for a little while. Something along the lines of Disney's The Little Mermaid. What I found, however, was a delightful fantasy mixed with some science fiction and a strong story I could really get behind.

Unlike many fantasy stories, this book takes place in a futuristic version of our world. In the future, over-population has l
Jan 09, 2015 Ivy rated it liked it
Shelves: 2012
I wish I could give this book four stars, but because of pacing and a logic question, I just cannot. It was a very delightful book, in any case, and much worth reading.

One of the reasons I really enjoyed it was that the immense world-building is so well done, I actually felt like I was there with the characters. The world is in the future, where many humans long ago got tech to help them survive in extreme places, as the world changed. Our main character hails from the Kampii civilization, which
Rick Silva
Aug 04, 2012 Rick Silva rated it it was amazing
Set in a world that mixes postapocalyptic cyberpunk with classical mythology, this story centers on Aluna of the Coral Kampii, a tribe of genetically engineered Merfolk. The Kampii are one of several familiar humanoid races that resulted from attempts by humans to alter their bodies to escape the pressures of an overpopulated world and live in places previously considered uninhabitable.

When thirteen year old Aluna learns that her people's water-breathing technology may be failing, she undertakes
Elisabeth Jewell
Jan 16, 2012 Elisabeth Jewell rated it really liked it
Clever imagining of a future world, where the human race has escaped to extreme habitats and have learned how to modify their bodies (done at puberty or at birth) to survive. Aluna lives in a underwater city of Kampiis (mermaids) where their breathing necklaces. Having lost the technological knowledge across the centuries, Aluna puts off "growing her tail" (she still has the legs she was born with) disobeys the Elders' isolationist orders and travels to the surface and land in search of technolo ...more
The past tense of "to tread" is "trod". This cranky note brought to you by aquatic humans who spend a lot of time staying still in currents. That said...

I enjoyed this book. It didn't blow me out of the proverbial water, but it was reasonably well-crafted and engaging, and I didn't check to see how much more book I had to get through.

You'll be shocked to lean that the rebellious princess is forced by her conscience to leave all she knows on the very eve of her adulthood, and venture out into the
Mar 01, 2014 Fireworkrox rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, scifi
I loved this book!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I don't know how Aluna will be able to help the Equians now that she did what she had done. Hoku is your normal smart one, but he isn't a smart-aleck, he's nice.His smartness is helpful. Dash is an Equian gone wrong. He is an Equian with no horse body, so he looks like a human. This science fiction fantasy is awesome in every way and i recommend it to all ocean lovers and sci. fiction fans. GIVE ME MORE ABOVE WORLD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! XDXDXD
Apr 21, 2016 Saiuri rated it it was amazing
I think that this book was absolutely amazing. It is a book about a young girl who must set out on an adventure to save her community and her people. She needs to go to the above world in search of answers to Hydrotek. but the Above World id overrun by savage people. Will she be able to save them in time? The author of this amazing book is Jenn Reese. The genres are mystery, adventure,thriller.
Pam Torres
Jan 19, 2012 Pam Torres rated it it was amazing
Shelves: cover-art
If you're thinking that this is just another mermaid story you're knee deep in seaweed. Sit back, buckle in and get ready for an adventure that is full of innovative technology, out-of-the-box fight scenes and a twisty-turny plot with characters that reach out and resonate. This debut middle grade dystopian/fantasy is the first adventure in the series filled with adaptative invention, epic battles and incredible world building. Aluna is not your average heroine and shows no fear when faced with ...more
Page Passion
Jan 13, 2012 Page Passion rated it liked it
Above World was an action packed, adventure filled novel. Aluna and Hoku have lived under water their whole lives, in the City of Shifting Tides. They are Kampii, a breed of genetically mutated humans that are designed to thrive under water. Bu when Aluna finds her friend dead, she not only realizes that her technology is failing but that she needs to fix it by traveling to the Above World where all her answers will be found. Or so she thinks.

Benji Martin
Feb 12, 2013 Benji Martin rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. The idea was new. I loved the questions it made me think. Would it be possible for people to live permanently underwater with better technology?" Would they have to eat everything raw? Would their skin get all wrinkly? I loved the characters. I felt their fear, their love, their amusement. They were all very believable. I loved the action. Reese's martial arts training helps make all of the fighting scenes realistic and exciting. I loved the story. There was never a dull momen ...more
Greg van Eekhout
Jan 23, 2012 Greg van Eekhout rated it it was amazing
I was privileged to read Above World prior to publication and sent in this blurb, which appears (in part) on the back of the book:

Jenn Reese's richly imagined future teems with biotech mer people and mighty centaurs, but her characters remain so very human, driven by friendship, love, and courage. I'd choose Jenn Reese's characters as my companions on any adventure. Above World delivers thunderously exciting action worthy of a summer blockbuster, but the battles and perils never get in the way o
Mary Poulton
The most frustrating thing about this book? I can't find the sequels!!!

This is definitely the most unique take on post-apocalyptica I've ever seen. Instead of scrambling like cockroaches and living in dilapidated cities to survive, humanity adapted with its greatest technology-genetics. Aviars soar in mountain-clad aeries, the kampii swim underwater with fishtails, and centaurs roam the deserts. Hundreds of years after these societies formed and separated, Aluna-a young kampii who has yet to ear
Oct 21, 2015 J.D.Staton rated it it was ok
As dystopian/post-apocalyptic books are not tales that I'm especially fond of, this story was less objectionable than most - primarily because it is so fantasy-based. A Campi girl (who loves fighting but is forbidden to do so in her underwater world because this is viewed as too dangerous a deterrent from a female's primary purpose of birthing babies) decides to abandon her family and community, in the midst of her "coming of age" ceremony (which would cause her to painfully undergo conversion f ...more
Jun 06, 2015 Sophie rated it really liked it
*Please forgive this potentially horribly written review. I wrote it on November 5, 2012 for my eighth grade language arts class.*

Above World, an exciting new novel by Jenn Reese, is part of our ever-growing dystopian literature. Dystopian literature has been around since 1868, when English philosopher John Stuart Mill coined it, but became a larger part of fiction in the 20th century. After Suzanne Collins gripping Hunger Games, dystopian literature has peaked to thrill readers all over the wo
2 stars for Above World
“Why were wonder and danger always so tightly interwoven?”

.25/1 star for plot
It developed better than expected once I figured out this was a dystopian, but having never read an adventures-on-the-high-seas mermaid book before, I really wanted to read a mermaid book.

1/1 star for writing
Surprisingly good.

.25/1 star for characters
I can handle a lot of character failings, but when a character discards duty, honor, and comm
Mar 31, 2014 Jessica rated it liked it
Shelves: child-lit-april
When I first started this book, I could tell it was aimed at an audience younger than me by the way the characters talked with each other. However, I still enjoyed it a lot. The idea of people having to adapt to living in different areas of the world fascinated me. This book does not close the story up though, so don't read it if you aren't planning on reading the whole series. I finished it and said, "dang it, now I have to read the next one." It's not that it isn't good enough to make me want ...more
Mar 31, 2015 Kaylie rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
I actually really enjoyed this book. Starting out reading it I didn't think I would get as interested as I did, it did start off kind of strange but as you got to know the characters better and as the plot developed it pulled me in and it definitely puts a twist on the possibilities of the future and what happened to bring these people to that point. This definitely isn't for younger children, I would actually wait until Middle School to have any children read this book for both the advanced plo ...more
Deborah Coates
Oct 14, 2011 Deborah Coates marked it as to-read
I've read this one too, though I'm looking forward to reading the final version. It has brave, powerful girls and smart boys and water and land and science and adventure!

Also, will post more review soon :)
Mar 20, 2014 Macjest rated it really liked it
I wasn't 100% convinced with the world building in this novel. In this dystopian future, humans have been genetically modified to live in the ocean, to fly with wings, and to run with hooves. The ocean dwellers survive with a breathing shell and when they become old enough, they grow a tail. The breathing shells have begun to fail. Two of the ocean dwellers try to find out why. The action is pretty good and the information is doled out slowly. That's part of the reason I didn't completely buy in ...more
Kimberly Sabatini
Jun 19, 2012 Kimberly Sabatini rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mg-ya
Read this on audio with my 11yo in the car and we absolutely loved it!!! He was extremely relieved to hear that there would be a second book LOL! Adored the creativity and the characters.
Jan 21, 2011 E.C. rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mg
The last time I read this in manuscript, I loved it, and I can't imagine it's gotten worse since then so I don't hesitate to recommend it :P
Aug 18, 2015 Kerrie rated it really liked it
I have to be honest. I was very hesitant to read this book because the cover didn't really pull my interest. However, a librarian gave it to me and told me to not judge this specific book by its cover. I picked it up, completely open minded, and could NOT put it down. I literally started and finished it in one day. A book hasn't pulled my attention like that in a long time.

The main character Aluna and her best friend Hoku set out on a journey to save their people. As they go, the discover new f
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I write science fiction and fantasy adventure stories for readers of all ages. ABOVE WORLD is the first book in my middle grade series from Candlewick and was a finalist for the 2012 Andre Norton Award. The second book, MIRAGE, was released in March 2013, and the final book of the trilogy, HORIZON, is scheduled for April 2014. My first novel, JADE TIGER, is a kung fu action adventure romance for o ...more
More about Jenn Reese...

Other Books in the Series

Above World (3 books)
  • Mirage (Above World, #2)
  • Horizon (Above World, #3)

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“History is not a fixed truth. It changes with the speaker.” 9 likes
“Why were wonder and danger always so tightly interwoven?” 6 likes
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