Sixteen years after The Event that changed the face of our planet, we meet a group of survivors who live on an old cruise ship named the Catalina. Our heroine in this story is Esther who has lived most of her live on this ship after she and her father escaped the cloud of toxic ash that covered the world. She and her father share a former crew cabin and although the space is tight they do have a small porthole and their own lavatory. Over the years Esther has become the mechanic on the ship; her main job is keeping the desalination system operative. She is training a young girl named Cally as her apprentice. Cally doesn’t seem to have a head for mechanics and this vexes Esther who is serious about her work. In fact, one might call Esther zealous as she’s always got an idea on how to make things better.
As the story progresses the reader is introduced to a cast of varied characters in this microcosm of live: there is Judith the hard-nosed self-appointed captain; Esther’s father Simon who is very calm and understanding, Neal who lives in the Communications Tower and spends his days contacting other vessels and is Esther’s best friend; and a dozen or so unique individuals who impact Esther’s life on a daily basis. When Esther literally destroys the desalination system in a bid to make it better, she forces the Catalina to seek help from the Galaxy Flotilla – a small floating city of mega cruise ships from the Galaxy Cruise Line. What follows is pure suspense as life with the Galaxy Flotilla is not as great as it seems. The underlying currents are palpable. But Captain Judith knows the Catalina can’t survive without drinking water so she agrees to dock with the mega liners and attempt to trade for the parts needed for repair.
Author Rivet has done a terrific job of envisioning a future at sea. Descriptions of a once vibrant and beautiful leisure cruise ship that has become the center of the world for a thousand survivors and their descendants (yes, some children were born at sea) show how determined people can be to survive against all odds: one time lawyers can become cooks, society wives can learn to sew, etc. Nothing on the ship is wasted either. Lounge curtains become clothing and what isn’t used can be traded with other ships for medicine or spare parts. The old bowling alley is converted as a desalination room and bowling shoes are issued, one pair to a person, for use. For good measure we do have a bit of romance thrown in along with plenty of tension-filled scenes and possible disasters.
As a veteran of almost fifty cruises, I found this book extremely interesting as I imagined myself and my family having to live on such a vessel for a number of years without the daily turn-down service or having a varied menu to choose from. I’m also not sure I could survive on a diet of seaweed wraps with the occasional fish meal. But in Seabound the survivors do just that. I found the story to be riveting (no pun intended) and couldn’t put the book down. Thankfully, I’ve already started reading the second book in the series.
Rating: M M M M