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The Fires Beneath the Sea

(The Dissenters #1)

3.35  ·  Rating details ·  172 ratings  ·  40 reviews
Kirkus Reviews Best Books of 2011

Cara's mother has disappeared. Her father isn't talking about it. Her big brother Max is hiding behind his iPod, and her genius little brother Jackson is busy studying the creatures he collects from the beach. But when a watery specter begins to haunt the family's Cape Cod home, Cara and her brothers realize that their scientist mother may
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published July 26th 2011 by Big Mouth House (first published May 1st 2011)
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Average rating 3.35  · 
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Ranting Dragon
Aug 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: caleigh

Rating: 3,5 stars

Lydia Millet is an award-winning writer best known for her works for adults; her most recent accomplishment, a collection of short stories called Love in Infant Monkeys, was one of three finalists for the 2010 Pulitzer Prize. And so her newest novel, a middle-grade fantasy called The Fires Beneath the Sea, seems like a big departure for her. In Fires, Cara and her brothers are trying to cope with the sudden disappearance of their mother,
The Library Lady
Lots of adult writers are writing kid novels. Most of them are hack writers and their fiction is hack fiction, coasting on the fact that their names sell books.

Yet,the simple fact is that even a very good, award winning writer can write less than wonderful books for kids, and this one is proof of that. Not everyone has the ear to hear how kids really sound, to give the details they care about and the ones that they don't.

It just so happens that the part of Cape Cod where this book is set is a
Belinda Lewis
Jul 22, 2016 rated it it was ok
Meant for kids in a way that doesn't allow adults to enjoy it too (at least I'm assuming that's what happened).
I'm not sure how to feel about this book because TBH I have no idea what I just read.

There's a family who lost the mom to...we're not sure what, it never tells exactly. The story is told from the daughter's point of view. Her older brother seemed pretty typical, while her younger brother has some kind of telepathy that's never really explained. The dad is conveniently scatterbrained and absent most of the story. Then there's a friend who really serves no purpose and I'm not sure why she's
Sandra Stiles
Apr 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I read several reviews that alluded to this being similar to A Wrinkle in Time. I could see some similarities but not that many. This was a wonderful story of three children on a quest to help their mother. They are given bits and pieces of the puzzle as needed. I found myself not wanting to put the book down. I found after reading about the “Pouring Man” that I had trouble going to sleep. It might have something to do with the fact it was raining outside and it was nighttime. That parallel was ...more
Jacob Beaver
The first chapter of the book is very well written. It goes into depth about the characters very well it. It also goes into the characters' histories very well. The author, Lydia Millet shows a very good sence of imagery and uses allegory and irony very well in the first two chapters.

Main character analysis

Cara is a girl drawn to mysterious things, for example when she is at the beach with her best friend Halley, an animal talks to her and instead of being afraid she is drawn to the animal.

I found this book when I was working at my local library and doing the discards since they were weeding the collection of things that people weren’t checking out to make more room. I thought that the synopsis was interesting and that I might find a hidden gem here but that wasn’t the case. Nothing is explained at all. The characters are in the dark, but so are the readers. There’s a lot of extraordinary stuff going on in the book but there’s no reasons given for it to exist or even what’s
Aug 23, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: giveaways
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I love free books when they're good reads. This one....fell far short of being a good read. I've never read this author before, but I certainly hope her other books are far better than this. I probably won't be picking one up though. This one was too big a disappointment.
Apr 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
It is a bit of science fiction combined with New England scenery. It took me a while to get through the whole book but I enjoyed the fantasy the author was writing. The mix of science and New England scenery was quite enjoyable as well.
Lydia Kass
Jun 27, 2018 rated it liked it
Cara, Jax, Max and Cara's friend Hayley, must figure out where their mom went and why. This is a veiled trilogy (or maybe quartet) about global warming and pollution. This novel's element is water.
Michelle Isenhoff
Sep 28, 2012 rated it it was ok
The jury’s still out on how much I liked this one. It has some beautiful moments. It also has some awkward moments. The story is entertaining, but I’m really not compelled to find out when the next book of the series comes out. The characters are all likeable, but I didn’t fall in love with any of them. I found the title on a list of noteworthy books of 2011, but I’m not sure I’d laud it among the best. I guess I’d have to say it’s a middle of the road middle grade read.

Here’s what happens: Cara
Aug 16, 2011 rated it did not like it
ATOS Book Level: 5.1
Interest Level: Middle Grades (MG 4-8)
AR Points: 9.0
Word Count: 57572

ok maybe it' not that bad....but it's close.
I don't know if the story's going to be too complex and more info will be coming in the next book, or if I just didn't buy into the story line, or how everything fit
Kathy Martin
Mar 19, 2011 rated it really liked it
This was an entertaining and mildly scary middle grade fantasy. Cara and her brothers Max and Jax are all missing their mother, a scientist, who has gone away. No seems to know, or at least no one is telling them, where she has gone. They are all dealing with her absence in their own ways. Max is hanging out with friends and burying himself in his music. Jax is attending science camp. Cara is spending time with her friend Hayley and wondering what happened to her mom. Their dad has also ...more
There were several things I liked about this book. First, there is a cool villain--the pouring man who is always dripping and attacks through any kind of water. Second, the author's detail about the setting (Cape Cod) created a great picture in my mind, which is useful for someone who has never been there. Third, the use of animals in a location they aren't normally found in, this helps create tension.

Character-wise, I liked the characters okay but I didn't love them by any means. I prefer
Clea Danaan
Sep 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
The Fires Beneath the Sea reminds me of A Wrinkle in Time series and Susan Cooper's The Dark is Rising Sequence, in that we have a siblings working together to save their family and eventually a great battle between the Light and the Darkness (the Cold). With a modern twist, however, Millet's new series addresses the deeper issues of climate change.

The writing sometimes included slightly odd "teen" speaking (using "like" and "perv") which felt a little forced, and there were a few moments I
Jan 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012
I hadn't heard a thing about this one until it made it onto Kirkus Reviews' Best of 2011 list. I don't always agree with Kirkus' love/lack of love for specific books, but decided to give it a shot. And I was actually pleasantly surprised. I don't really know why it made it onto the Best list, but it was not a waste of time at all. (At least for me). Because of the blending of environmental issues and magic, I can picture fans of Julia Golding's Companions Quartet being fans. It also, for ...more
Mike McAdam
Feb 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
*I got this free from a goodreads giveaway*

I enjoyed it. I think the target audience (which I assume is tweens and early teens) will enjoy it even more. The story is fun and moves along at a nice pace. Whenever a book has supernatural elements as this one does, I always ask myself "If this were to actually happen, could it happen like this?" This book passes that test. I opted to give this book 4 stars instead of 5 because, even though it passed by supernatural test, there were a few
Feb 02, 2012 rated it liked it
Cara's family is still suffering from the sudden disappearance of their mother, a marine scientist. Research she was working on has been stolen, and Cara and her brothers and father are bewildered by the turn of events. It doesn't seem like the work of normal thieves or kidnappers, especially when frightening and fantastical things begin to occur, like the sea otter that "talks" to Cara, and the terrifying creature that comes out of the rain one night, whom they call the Pouring Man. What is the ...more
CC Smith
Nov 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
The Fires Beneath the Sea is about Cara and her two brothers, Max and Jax (short for Jackson). Their mom, an accomplished marine biologist, went missing over the summer under some murky circumstances. Now Cara is seeing sea animals in parts of the ocean where they shouldn't be. A mysterious man who pours water from his face won't leave the kids alone. Things are getting weird for Cara and her brothers, and whatever is happening is only getting started.

I quite enjoyed The Fires Beneath the Sea.
Oct 26, 2014 rated it liked it
When I first picked it up I was kind of turned off by the main character being pretty young (13?) and I thought I was going to have to slug through annoying tween drama and whining, but Millet creates a tolerable and semi-mature teenager. I'm not sure if this is poor writing, as is a bit of a Mary Sue, or if she is intentionally making her a little bland. Either way, I enjoyed the book at lot, especially going in with such low expectations. I do wish the plot was fleshed out a bit more. that a ...more
Nick Fagerlund
Nov 22, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: didnt-finish
This was some perfectly good middle-grade modern fantasy family adventure, sharing quite a few genes with A Wrinkle in Time. The prose and dialogue were clunky, but not bad enough to make me stop reading, and the setup, setting, and characters were quite good.

But I just was not really in the mood for a middle-grade Wrinkle-ish thing, so I bailed out. No harm, no foul, would totally recommend this if you ARE in the mood for that. Sounds like book 3 of 3 comes out in January or something?
Jan 17, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
This was harmless and it was nice to see a children's book imitating A Wrinkle in Time and The Dark Is Rising instead of Harry Potter or Narnia, but there was nothing special here.
Jun 18, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
I received this book in a First Reads giveaway...

I found this novel to be a suspenseful, fun read for a YA audience. I enjoyed the environmental twists, and although it took a bit of imagination to believe in some of the characters, that's why it's fiction! I enjoyed Cara's little brother's abilities just like I enjoyed the Scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz. Neither is realistically possible, but that's the point. It's a story. I will be looking forward to picking up the next one!
Sep 01, 2011 rated it liked it
Cara, Max, and Jackson miss their mother, who left them and their father with no hint of where's she's gone. When strange things begin happening to Cara, she and her brothers are suddenly on a quest to help her mother and explore a fantastical new world. I enjoyed Cara and her brothers, their relationships, and the magic that begins to fill their lives.
Apr 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya
Lovely prose and a compelling story with an ecological twist. Near and dear to my heart because the setting in Wellfleet, MA is EXACTLY where I spend every summer and very accurate. My only gripe is that the entire book is really just the set up for the rest of the series. Reminiscent of A Wrinkle in Time and The Dark is Rising.
Jan 31, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: juvenile-fiction
Another disappointment. This book was just too silly for words. The children, about 10, 12 and 16, got away with too much and never seemed to encounter difficulties with things like borrowing scuba gear and using it without adult supervision. Or taking off in the middle of the night and the care giver not noticing. Totally unbelievable. I won't be reading book 2.
Kathleen Almeida barnes
Mar 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
Fires Beneath the Sea is the first book in the Dissenters series. I enjoyed the fantasy aspects of the plot and became involved in all the main characters. The book would appeal to young adults and adults who enjoy fantasy and who liked the Percy Jackson series. I plan to read the second book to see what happens nex..
Nov 15, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: young-adult, fantasy
I'd like to have rated it higher, as it had an interesting concept and was fairly engaging, but I frankly don't much care for any author who seems so careful in regard to the language young characters use, only to have them profane the name of the Savior. Not cool.
May 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016
An enjoyable, quick read aimed at younger readers. Not a lot of tension in the story for grown-ups. The kids are brave and plucky as they try to find their missing mom.

Not sure I'll read more of the series, but this was fine.
Jul 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
I read the second book first and that isn't what I usually do. They both could be read on their own and not in order and still be good.I got the first one out when I got home from vacation and was glad I read it before reading the third one. Good summer read also.
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Lydia Millet is the PEN Award-winning author of eleven works of literary fiction, including Sweet Lamb of Heaven and Magnificence, which have been New York Times Notable Books and Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award finalists. She lives in Arizona.

Other books in the series

The Dissenters (3 books)
  • The Shimmers in the Night (The Dissenters, #2)
  • The Bodies of the Ancients (The Dissenters #3)