Below the Surface
Cooper, Gordy, Lunk and Hiro need a break. It’s the summer before freshman year, and they’ve already experienced enough drama to last a lifetime. Trouble seems to follow these four friends, even when they aren’t looking for it, so a trip to Lake Geneva sounds like the ideal way to avoid it. Sweetening the deal is the chance for the boys to sleep on Cooper’s family’s boat, while Hiro stays at a nearby hotel with the moms. The kids think that bright and beautiful Lake Geneva is nothing less than the perfect getaway. Little do they know a darkness is hovering just below the surface.
"Tim Shoemaker’s BELOW THE SURFACE cleverly combines all the elements a middle school novel should possess --- adventure, suspense, friendship, insecurities, fears and heroism."
It begins on their first night on the boat. Cooper, who is nearly as comfortable under water as he is on land, jumps into the lake and is immediately gripped by unexplainable terror. Moments later, the friends eavesdrop on a couple arguing on another boat. The argument ends with the girl in the water and the guy trying to run her down. After calling the police, the friends arrive back on shore where the police question the other boater, who claims the girl was angry and swam back to shore. His story is substantiated when his date shows up dripping wet. But is she his date? She has blond hair and a white tee-shirt like the girl they saw on the boat. However, something about this situation is fishy, and as usual, Hiro won’t rest until it’s resolved.
So begins another adventure in Tim Shoemaker’s Code of Silence series, where mystery and suspense are the flavors of the day. As the young heroes struggle with their personal fears and challenges, they stick together in the face of danger --- even when that danger threatens to become deadly. They don’t know exactly what took place on the dark lake that night, but they do know that a local girl is missing, a crazy driver nearly killed Cooper, and someone is stalking them. With each passing day, more and more suspicious activities confirm Hiro’s belief that they witnessed a murder on the lake, even though the boys think she may be a little paranoid. But Hiro has a knack for knowing when something is wrong, and her crime-meter is on overdrive. When all is said and done, they just might need a vacation to recover from their vacation.
Tim Shoemaker’s BELOW THE SURFACE cleverly combines all the elements a middle school novel should possess --- adventure, suspense, friendship, insecurities, fears and heroism. Middle school and young teen readers will identify with Cooper, Gordy, Hiro and Lunk, and likely wish they could be part of the group. I particularly enjoyed the setting of Lake Geneva --- a fun town with a pretty lake and a great place for an adventure. Combine that with a compelling plot, realistic dialogue, plenty of action and an edge-of-your-seat ending, and you have a book that young readers won’t want to put down.
Reviewed by Susan Miura on March 24, 2014