Danny had only been on the island of Jolo less than an hour and he was already full of dread and despair. His only thoughts were for Blake’s condition. Had a rope been tied around his waist so that he couldn’t stray away, as if he were a farm animal? Danny wiped the sweat dripping on his forehead. Mindanao. The island’s name itself evoked mystery and fear. He wondered how a place featured on travel magazine covers, surrounded by fine sand, picturesque coconut trees and clear waters could also be infested with rebels and outlaws.
Somewhere in the Shallow Sea by Dennis Macaraeg
Disclaimer: I received this book for free from the writer in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.
In this suspenseful thriller, two lovers are in a race against all odds in the jungles of the Philippines to save their kidnapped friend. Somewhere in the Shallow Sea will test the main characters’ determination in order to outwit the man who is after the scientific compound they brought as ransom.
Danilo “Danny” Maglaya is a marine biotechnology scientist whose life revolves around the RX-18 cube: a super-food formula he and his partner and best friend Blake Mason are hoping will restore the fish population that has been depleting quicker than it can be replenished. When he receives notice that a terrorist group has taken Blake for a ransom of one million dollars and the RX-18 cube, Danny doesn’t hesitate to rush to his rescue. But what he thought would be an easy exchange of hostage for ransom turns into an island hopping nightmare. He and his ex-girlfriend Helen must navigate the little islands and jungles of the Philippines to rescue their friend before time runs out. They have everything against them and nothing going for them in this action thriller that tests their determination and stamina.
Macaraeg chose the Philippines as the backdrop to his novel after spending some time backpacking through the country’s main islands. His personal experience of the culture is richly and seamlessly tied into the novel, bringing the country to life in a way that couldn’t be done without firsthand knowledge. I really enjoyed reading about the culture, traditions, and history that is shared throughout the book. I have family who came from the Philippines and it’s always been a source of interest for me as well as a destination on my wanderlust list of travel.
As for the novel itself, it really stretched me out of my comfort zone as far as reading material goes. I don’t tend to lean towards action thriller anything, much less when it has a heavy science based lean to it. Science was one of my worst subjects in school due to complete lack of interest. However, I am happy to state that since having my son who, even at three, has a strong love of the ocean, water, and marine life I have found myself growing more and more interested in marine biology as a way to encourage his personal interests. Will I ever just completely dive into the subject? Probably not. His grandmother sent him some sea life erasers this week and I picked up one at random and exclaimed “Look, bean, a shark!” to which he replied “No, mama, that’s a whale shark.” Raised eyebrows and all. Apparently if you’re going to mention the species, you really need to know your stuff and I don’t.But this book has a science lean as well as being first and foremost an action novel, both of which don’t usually factor into my reading selections and I can’t say that the action drew me in at all. The culture and history in the novel did, though, and because of it I found it held my interest. While reading it, I definitely could see a few faces in my life that I knew would enjoy this, my husband being one of them. After reading the first chapter, I told him what I had read so far (modern-day pirate terrorists, kidnappings, and guns) and he was already intrigued and plans to read it when he can find a spare minute between work, school, and two kids. It’s also a fairly quick read, coming in at 220 pages. This worked very well in my favor since I was trying to finish it before baby Squish was born and I was able to complete it in a weekend of relaxing and reading.
The audience I’d recommend would be high school and up, but probably more towards the adult crowd just because of the average age of character in the book and the style it was written. Most high school books have a quick wit to capture their younger reader’s attention and while this book is well written, it does lack any real points of humor.
This is Dennis Macaraeg’s first novel but you can tell his love of reading and his subject matter displayed throughout. If you’re interested, you should check him out on
I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!