Book Club: Escape to the Moon Islands – Quest of the Sunfish

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Author: Mardi McConnochie
ISBN: 978-1-76029-091-7
RRP: $14.99

This month we looked at diversifying our Book Club titles and adding in something for younger readers, but not those so young the books needed to be read by a parent.

Quest of the Sunfish is written for the 9-12 year old demographic and some of our readers will be reviewing the book for us.

This book is the first in an exciting new series, with the second book due in April 2017.

Quest of the Sunfish is set in a post-apocalyptic world that could be quite like ours, after a world altering flood. Global warming caused sea levels to rise, and then there was a disastrous flood that completely changed the world. Many places are still under water decades later, the devastation was so widespread that rebuilding was prioritised leaving entire cities still under water or seriously flood damaged.

In the aftermath of the flood the Admiralty, the navy equivalent, stepped up and governed. Now that the crisis has passed there seems to be no more need for Admiralty control, according to some, but the Admiralty have no plans to relinquish power.

Will and Annalie are teen twins about to be tossed into a story that throws everything they know into chaos. Annalie is away at school when she is visited by an Admiralty officer and asked about her father’s whereabouts, which is the first she had heard of his disappearance. Rather than stay at school and worry she heads home to find her brother, and try to work out what is going on.


Their home has been destroyed and they have nowhere else to go so rather than sit back and wait to see what will happen Will and Annalie embark on a perilous adventure to see if they can track down their father and find out what’s going on.

Having spent a lot of time on the water growing up they are both quite confident sea-farers, so they head off in the direction they think they will find their father. Along the way they pick up a couple of unlikely runaways as deckhands and become quite a handy team, they are in a position that sees them having to put faith in one another to survive and they all bring quite a unique skill set to the voyage.

The Sunfish is the small boat that Will and Annalie spent much of their childhood aboard so they are familiar with the boat and its workings, they find themselves facing storms, pirates and Admiralty pursuit in this adventure filled journey across the high seas.

For a group of young teens this crew are faced with tough choices, a need to be adaptable and always have a back up plan and are forced to rely only on themselves for the first time in their lives.

Quest of the Sunfish is fast-paced and action packed with enough exciting differentiations from the world we live in to excite fantasy fans, but it’s still close enough to not be completely outside the realms of believable.

Quest of the Sunfish is book #48 for the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge 2016.

Thanks to Allen & Unwin 23 of our Beauty and Lace Club members will be reading Escape to the Moon Islands: Quest of the Sunfish with their children so please be aware there may be spoiler in the comments below. I look forward to hearing what they think.

Quest of the Sunfish is available now through Allen & Unwin, Angus & Robertson Bookworld, Booktopia and where all good books are sold.

24 thoughts on “Book Club: Escape to the Moon Islands – Quest of the Sunfish

  1. Ahoy, me hearties! Escape to the Moon Islands is a nautical adventure series starring two strong and resilient siblings. The book is an ambitious, speculative fiction one designed for young adult readers. It tackles some important topics like climate change, poverty, bullying and the misuse of power, and it handles this in a way that is appropriate and mindful of its target audience.

    This book is the first in a new adventure series called, Quest of the Sunfish and is by the critically acclaimed writer, Mardi McConnochie. Because this is book number one, McConnochie spends a fair amount of time creating the world and the different characters. The book also finishes with a number of unresolved elements, leaving things open so that the story can continue in the subsequent instalments. One quibble with this novel is that the story is an adventure one but the book itself is missing a map for the reader to go back and refer to. This would help in allowing the reader to imagine and reflect on this journey into another world.

    Escape to the Moon Islands begins when siblings, Will and Annalie learn that their father, Spinner has disappeared. Their family had been living off the grid and in subpar conditions. But in spite of this apparent poverty, Annalie was able to attend an expensive school because her father had recognised that she was a clever child. Her brother on the other hand, seemed more interested in joining his Dad on the old man’s small sailboat called The Sunfish.

    These characters live in a word where a major flood once occurred and wiped out large stretches of civilisation. It’s also one where society is ruled by a naval group called Admiralty. These rulers appear to be good but when Spinner is accused of stealing classified information and goes missing, it seems like there could be more to this story than originally met the eye.

    Will and Annalie decide to cast off and go on a voyage along the water in their father’s sailboat in an attempt to find him. They are joined by a chatty parrot named Graham and Annalie’s school friend, Essie. Along the way the pick up a former child slave named Pod. Their journey includes different adventures and brushes with villains like pirates, cannibals and authority in general.

    McConnochie should be commended for crafting such a complex story and not shying away from tackling some important issues in her book for young adults. Escape to the Moon Islands is easy to read and is an intense journey of discovery. This is the kind of trip that kids can learn from and one they ultimately won’t want to miss.

  2. My 11 year old step son is slowly but steadily reading this book . At first when I asked him how it was he said some of the words he couldn’t understand so he will now ask what they mean . He has been reading every night before sleep . So far he said he is enjoying this book and has already asked if we can get the second one lol . Will follow up once he is finished , I forget some don’t read as quick as me lol.

  3. My almost 10 year old sister was very excited to receive this book and found the picture on the cover interesting. Despite this book being marketed to 9-12 year olds, miss 9 found this book to be above her reading level and wasn’t able to read it alone. I think that this book is challenging for younger readers in this age group that are not advanced readers so would probably recommend it more so to 11-13 year olds. It is also worth keeping in mind that it is particularly long.

    Miss 9 said it was an exciting story of adventure and she enjoyed learning about the kids on their mission. She hopes she has progressed enough with her reading to be able to read the 2nd one by herself by the time it is released as there are many things left unanswered at the end of this one.

    I like that this book covers a lot of important issues in an age appropriate way and can be enjoyed by both kids and adults alike. The story certainly kept us entertained.

  4. Miss 9 was reading this book to review (she was very excited about the prospect of a new book as she is a great little reader and also excited about reviewing one!)
    She said: “I love the adventure in this book! The characters were nice and it was alot about family. I hope they find Spinner! I am looking forward to the next book so I can read about it more.It was really good”

  5. Both my tweens loved the book though my 12year old son enjoyed it more. The picture on the book immediately gripped their attention and they were really excited to read the book. The excitement and adventure and the strength of relationships and characters when faced with hard times and when under strain was a beautiful lesson for growing kids to learn from. My daughter did find bits of the book a bit scary but overall enjoyed the story. My son really enjoyed the danger and excitement in the story.

  6. My gosh what a great book, we have enjoyed this book looking forward every day to read a little more, it opened up a few discussions on the meaning of quite a few words and some of there context, it is definitely a book that needs to be read with an adult or of the like as the lauguage is beyond any child I know for the age grouping it is intended but in saying that I did love the fact that it challenged our kids to read words they didn’t know and ask what things meant in the context they were in, the beginning was very laborious when reading out loud and then explaining what it all mean but then when the setting was established I found it was easier for our kids to picture and form an understanding, when I first applied for this book I thought it would of related to the boys more, but it’s a great book for the girls as well as the boys, and I must say that I have enjoyed it a lot too, it’s great it get away from your own worries and woes and step into a fantastical world that’s not your own, thanks for this opportunity, it’s well worth your time to read it with your kids and other people’s too!

  7. What an ADVENTURE ! A must read for kids,
    A brilliant first novel in the seriers, well done to Mardi McConnochie. My son and I read this book together, we made it our nightly event.
    We loved the story line, what an adventute Spinner sent his kids out on. I very well written book with lots of events and incidents which kept you guessing.
    Cant wait for the sequel next year.

  8. My 8 year old avid reader is loving Escape to the Moon Islands, both reading chapters herself and having mum or dad read a chapter a bedtime. The amazing cover at sets the tone immediately for an exotic and exciting adventure story. The spirited, independent and courageous kids are quite inspiring in their quest, the strong characters and amazing adventures make for a thoroughly enjoyable read. We can’t wait for the next instalment! Thanks Beauty and Lace for introducing a great new series to our family.

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