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The Lost Compass by Joel Ross eARC

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Last year, I read Joel Ross' middle grade debut, The Fog Diver, and really enjoyed it. I was excited for the further adventures of Chess and his scavenging crew. Unfortunately, despite a few high points, the sequel has some significant weaknesses.

This eARC was provided through Edelweiss for review. Some things may have changed in the final version.
The Lost Compass by Joel Ross
Series: The Fog Diver #2
Genres: MG, SFF, Dystopian
Published on May 24, 2016
Published by HarperCollins
In the high-stakes sequel to The Fog Diver, thirteen-year-old Chess and his crew must stop the deadly and mysterious Fog from enveloping the city of Port Oro and destroying their world.

Chess and his crew—Hazel, Swedish, and Bea—may have escaped the slums, but they cannot escape the Fog that threatens to swallow the entire mountaintop city of Port Oro.

Only one thing can stop the fog: an ancient machine known as the Compass. Only one person can find it: Chess. With the help of his crew, Chess faces dangerous encounters, brutal battles, and deadly driftsharks to unearth the hidden instrument. It’s a race against time to save this high-altitude sanctuary.

With adventure at every turn, peril behind every corner, and a few determined slum kids who are up to the task, Joel Ross presents a fantastic world in this fast-paced follow-up to The Fog Diver.

The Lost Compass's biggest problem is its slow start. The main action, quest and danger don't really get started until a few chapters in. The first book, The Fog Diver, had near constant conflict, tension and danger. Perhaps this was an issue of expectations, but by comparison, The Lost Compass had too many slow moments, especially at the beginning where I expected to be grabbed.

On the bright side, Chess once again leads us on a dangerous quest through the skies and the fog-ridden remains of our world. One dive in particular had me on the edge of my seat. Turns out you don't need water to swim with the sharks. There are also a few sky battles, though we tend to see most of them from a distance.

Hazel, the crew's captain, has some standout performances, displaying a calm, brilliantly strategic mind in the midst of danger, including one excellent stare-down with the big baddie. (She won.)

I highly recommend the first book in the duology, The Fog Diver, which can be read as a standalone. I think young readers will still enjoy the adventures in this installment, but they may have trouble getting into it at first. If they can stick it out through the slow beginning, the pacing and danger picks up tremendously and should keep them hooked through the end.

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