SeaWAR is the much awaited second part of Sarah Holding’s SeaBEAN trilogy. In the first book, Alice discovered that she and her friends can travel to any place in the world with a black futuristic cube called the C-BEAN. While this alone is very exiting, now Alice meets Karla, the mysterious German inventor of the C-BEAN. While she arrives at St. Kilda to provide some much needed repairs to the device, something strange happens: from 2018, Alice and Karla travel back to 1918!
This is the start of a truly fast-spinning trail of adventures. Together with Donald and other St. Kilda students they meet in 1918 and travel deeper down the road of history to the Grand Exhibition in 1851. This is cause for much joy and wondrous awww’s (including from myself) – but soon Alice discovers that travelling through time also has a serious side to it. She and Donald end up in dangerous situations – and claustrophobic Karla is not exactly a helping hand. By travelling to and from various different years, she is confronted with a starving population on St. Kilda, two world wars and nuclear tests that could seriously harm the future. Can Alice save her home island and the people she loves?
SeaWAR contains a lot more action than its predecessor, making it a very exciting read. There is a lot at stake and sometimes it even gets a bit scary. Luckily, Alice gets a lot of help from her friend Charlie, and it’s nice to see that their friendship develops further as their adventures get tough. Another character that gets more attention is Old Jim, as we finally discover his life’s story. I felt it was deeply moving, and I think the writer has succeeded in incorporating such an emotional topic in a children’s novel.
SeaWAR is a great book that covers a lot of different aspects, like time travel, ghost stories, friendship, ecology and family history. This might seem too much for only 164 pages, but Holding has done a fantastic job knitting them all together in a marvellous story. Personally I would have liked to stay at the Great Exhibition a bit longer – and other readers might prefer to look at other times and places more closely. But I feel that the writer really has got what it takes to whet the readers’ appetite for further reading, which I find a positive asset to a novel which is aimed at children. After reading SeaWAR, I’m sure every child will want a C-BEAN. Actually, I want one too!