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Above World

(Above World #1)

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  1,826 ratings  ·  249 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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Helen I first read this book as a middle schooler, but now as a high schooler I reread it and still enjoyed it. I would say it's aimed at middle schoolers b…moreI first read this book as a middle schooler, but now as a high schooler I reread it and still enjoyed it. I would say it's aimed at middle schoolers but that doesn't mean older people won't enjoy it. (less)
Ellie 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)

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Average rating 3.96  · 
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 ·  1,826 ratings  ·  249 reviews

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Jan 20, 2011 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 03, 2011 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
Livia Blackburne
A fun and imaginative middle grade fantasy adventure. I went into it knowing I'd love the martial arts, but it was the characters that really won me over. I loved how honorable Aluna and her friends are and loved seeing how they supported and helped each other.
Jan 26, 2011 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.

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
Brandy Painter
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
The author put a lot of time and attention to detail into her character development and world building. And it really paid off! This younger read is full of fun science-fiction adventure with a sense of fantasy and wonder mixed with the knowledge of technology engineering it all. I love that this book has such in depth friendships and the touches of first love. And I love the way that the girls aren't always sweet damsels in distress, but they are just as capable (if not more so, in some
Sep 02, 2012 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
Tara Hall
Oct 30, 2011 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
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
Jun 26, 2016 rated it liked it
It's really almost a 4. Very entertaining and engaging. Has a lot of fighting but not much blood and gore. No language and nothing to make you blush. I will be passing along to my teenagers.
Wandering Librarians
Aluna is a Kampii (don't call her a mermaid) who lives in the City of the Shifting Tides. The Kampii have lived under the sea for generations, having no contact with the above world of humans. But now, the breathing devices that allow the Kampii to live under water have begun to break, and no one knows how to fix them. The Kampii elders chose to ignore the problem and Aluna decides to take the problem into her own hands. With her friend Hoku, Aluna journeys to the above world in search of HydroT ...more
May 23, 2012 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
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
Elisabeth Jewell
Jan 12, 2012 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
Rick Silva
Jan 11, 2012 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
Pam Torres
Jan 10, 2012 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
Dec 09, 2011 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.

Greg Eekhout
Jan 23, 2012 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
Benji Martin
Jan 23, 2013 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
Mar 01, 2014 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
Deborah Coates
Aug 25, 2011 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 :)
Jan 21, 2011 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
Kimberly Sabatini
Mar 02, 2011 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.
Aug 12, 2012 rated it liked it
It was kinda sad, but I still liked it. I hope everything works out (and if there is another one someone will tell me)
Mar 19, 2012 rated it did not like it
Cover Blurb: Yes or No? Actually yes; it's simple, it's pretty, and it did catch my interest. Clearly it has to do with the sea, and probably mermaids, but I have nothing against mermaid stories (though I have yet to read a truly good one). But there's something extra about the cover that also promises a good adventure. In short, the cover lies.

Characters: Let's start here, shall we? There's Aluna, the thirteen-year-old girl protagonist. Her age is probably the only thing that saved her; I tend
Oct 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Above World by Jenn Reese is the first book in a trilogy about a futuristic dystopian world. The main character, Aluna, is part of the species Kampii, who are people who have tech that allow them to breathe underwater and gives them tails when they turn thirteen. There are also Aviars, people with wings who have tech that allows them to breathe at very high altitudes. Upgraded, people who have enhanced themselves with tech, are the evil category of beings. They are trying to take over the compan ...more
Gina (My Precious Blog)
Above World

Publisher: Candlewick (February 14th, 2012)
Length: 368 pages
Format: Kindle E-Book
Source: Library2Go
Genre: Sci-fi, Fantasy, Dystopian
Series: Book 1 of ?
Completed: May 2012
Challenges: 2012 E-book Challenge, 2012 Outdo Yourself Challenge, 2012 Local Library Challenge


In a futuristic world where high technology and genetic modifications rule, The Coral Kampii, a race somewhat like legendary mermaids, have chosen to isolate themselves from the evil "Above World" in an un
Feb 07, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: children-s
I rated this book a two star rating because it was okay. I wouldn't say it was anything revolutionary. In the book we have Kampii which are basically mermaids. They in addition to others in this world are humans who have been modified to survive in a world which has gone evil. We follow the journey of two Kampii, Aluna and Hoku who go to the surface to try and save their people.

I recognize that this book is aimed at a younger reading group and therefore the simple story line that we follow make
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(She/Her) I write stories for readers of all ages. My most recent book is A GAME OF FOX & SQUIRRELS, published by Henry Holt in April 2020. ABOVE WORLD is the first book in my middle grade series from Candlewick and was a finalist for the 2012 Andre Norton Award. The trilogy continues in MIRAGE and finishes in HORIZON.

I also publish short stories and essays in a number of venues.

Other books in the series

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

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