SPFBO Review: One Boy, No Water by Lehua Parker

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The story begins with Zader being bullied by some kids from school, who throw a water balloon at him. Which doesn’t sound so bad, except that Zader is violently allergic to water. His skin burns and turns grey, and the pain is excruciating.

From there, the story reminds me of Percy Jackson, but with roots in Hawaiian mythology rather than Greek. Instead of gods, there are the Niuhi sharks. Niuhi sharks can be any size or species, but they are always unusually intelligent.

They’re also the only sharks that eat man.

Though it’s more implied than outright explained, these Niuhi sharks are also (likely) an ancient race of people who have the ability to transform into sharks. Which is kind of awesome.

Zader was adopted by his current family after being found abandoned on the beach. Since then, his new family treats him as one of their own, make sure to keep him away from water, seafood, and rare meat.

Basically, anything that sharks would like. Hmm…

One of my favorite parts of this book was how prominently Hawaiian Pidgin featured. To keep the language from becoming too confusing, each chapter starts with a short, relevant definition. The very first one had me laughing:

Like beef?

An invitation to a fight, not dinner.

Eventually, there’s a significant amount of Pidgin, but it’s introduced seamlessly and adds to the rich setting.

My only real complaint with this book is that it feels like a setup for the rest of the series more than a book that stands on its own. Most of the story fleshes out Zader’s home life, especially his relationship with his brother, Jay, and his mysterious uncle, Kahana. There were very little shark scenes for Book 1 of a series called Niuhi Shark Saga.

Overall, this was an excellent read. I was hooked from the start by the writing style and stayed for the intriguing world. I blew through this one in a couple of days and had trouble putting it down.

SPFBO Rating: 7.0

Character (25 points) 16
Worldbuilding (20 points) 16.5
Plot (15 points) 10
Pacing (10 points) 7
Prose (5 points) 4
Dialogue (5 points) 4
Editing (5 points) 3.5
Presentation (5 points) 2
Personal Enjoyment (10 points) 6.5
Total Score 69.5 (4 stars)

More on my scoring rubric here.

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