Blog Tour: The Neptune Project by Polly Holyoke + Giveaway

RATING: 4/5 stars
PUB DATE: May 21, 2013
PUBLISHER: Disney/Hyperion
GENRE: middle grade, dystopian, sci-fi

1. I received a copy of The Neptune Project from the publisher at TLA in exchange for an honest review.
2. My review is part of The Neptune Project Blog Tour, hosted by Shane @ Itching for Books! Thanks to Polly Holyoke, who encouraged me to join the tour, and Shane for having me! The tour schedule can be found here.


With her weak eyes and useless lungs that often leave her gasping for air, Nere feels more at home swimming with the dolphins her mother studies than she does hanging out with her classmates. Nere has never understood why she is so much more comfortable and confident in the water than on land until the day she learns the shocking truth—she is one of a group of kids who have been genetically altered to survive in the ocean. These products of the "Neptune Project" are supposed to build a better future under the waves, safe from the terrible famines and wars and that rock the surface world.

But there are some big challenges ahead of her: no one ever asked Nere if she wanted to be part of a science experiment; the other Neptune kids aren't exactly the friendliest bunch, and in order to reach the safe haven of the new Neptune colony, Nere and her fellow mutates must swim across hundreds of miles of dangerous ocean, relying on their wits, their loyal dolphins and one another to evade terrifying undersea creatures and a government that will stop at nothing to capture the Neptune kids ... dead or alive.

Fierce battle and daring escapes abound as Nere and her friend race to safety in this action-packed marine adventure.

I very much enjoyed The Neptune Project. I wasn't expecting to jump into the action quite so quickly, but rather than following a more traditional plot structure with exposition -> rising action -> climax -> falling action/denoument, I found that Polly employed several rises and declines in action instead. The structure is actually more like the crests of waves, which is cool because this book is about the ocean, after all. Also, this format allowed for a more open ending, leading to a sequel that Polly says is already written! *cheer break*

While genetic mutation is no stranger to the literary world, I like Polly's use of it in such an original way. Turning kids into hybrid merpeople to give them a chance at a better future is definitely not an idea that most parents would dream about, let alone allow. Learning how each of the characters discovered their abilities and how they cope is one of my favorite parts of the novel, and it's fascinating to see how these reactions affect Nere, forcing her to reevaluate her opinion of the program.

Another favorite aspect is Polly's characterization. Each member of the group was so distinct and memorable. I was so moved that I broke down over each death, whether the characters were likable or not. Even the dolphins maintained fairly separate personalities, even though most remained in the background. Also, I really enjoyed how much the ocean itself became a character. The way the ocean and the things in it (sharks, jellyfish, pollution, etc) maintained this fabulously terrifying presence with each new danger had me flashing back to Finding Nemo.

My complaints are fairly small for The Neptune Project. As a former English major, extra punctuation really bothers me so I would have taken out some of the "proper" marks during the telepathic exchanges. I thought the use of a different font and the colons was a good idea, but those colons combined with other punctuation messed with me some. I also would have liked the characters to have been aged up a bit. The transformation process is very remniscent of puberty so it makes sense that the characters were younger teens, but sometimes the way they acted made them seem older. I'm also not crazy about all the romantic entaglements with several boys forming romantic attachments to Nere and then having the girls all dislike her for it. I would have liked the girls to be a bit closer and the guys to not all seem to fall all over Nere. However, there's still at least one more book to the series and hopefully even more so I'd love to see Polly's writing grow and strengthen. This was a fantastic debut, and I know there are only more wonderful stories waiting to be released from Polly's fathomless (see what I did there?) imagination!

FANCAST: As my extra for the tour, I offered to do a little fancasting to show how I envision our characters. I am aging them up just a little bit.

Nere: Elle Fanning. I went to Elle's imdb page just to get to a list of young actors and actresses, but when I did, it hit me, "WHOA. Elle is the PERFECT Nere!" They're both kind of quirky but pretty with pale features. I love this picture because it looks like Nere with her hair all tangled.
Photo credit: Mario Sorrenti, courtesy of Totally Elle

Robry: Jonah Bobo. There's something so sweet about Jonah Bobo's face that makes me perfectly place him as Robry. Plus, if you've seen Crazy, Stupid, Love, you'll see he's also really wise.
Photo credit: IMDB

Dai: Colton Haynes. Dai was by far the hardest for me to cast. I just couldn't find anyone who really fit the idea I had of him in my head. I picked Colton because he has that kind of dangerous vibe that I imagine Dai embodying.
Photo credit: unknown photoshoot, courtesy of Colton Haynes Fans &

Kyel: Alexander Ludwig is another actor with that alpha-male-bad-boy attitude. We all saw him rock it as Cato in The Hunger Games. I think Alexander would perfectly fit with Kyel's rebel with a cause character. Too bad the characters all wear bodysuits (nearly) the whole time. I'm just going to pretend that this ---> happens instead. :D
Photo credit: unknown photoshoot, courtesy of Alexander Ludwig Online

Lena: Sarah Hyland. Sarah has such a delicate face that I have no problem envisioning her as pretty-girl Lena, who seems at times too fragile to survive under the sea. Plus, I can also see Sarah pulling off Lena's witchy 'tude.
Photo credit: unknown photoshoot, courtesy of Sarah Hyland Fan

Tobin: Skandar Keynes. I tried to find actors who would fit without having to change their appearances much, but when I thought of Skandar for Tobin, that was it. Redden his hair a bit and pop in some green contacts, and Skandar IS Tobin. Watching how Skandar matured Edmund in the Narnia films proves he can handle a more sensitive character like Tobin. Also, whereas Colton is 10 years older than Elle, Skandar's a pretty good fit with her.
Photo credit: unknown photoshoot, courtesy of Skandar Keynes Fan

Bria: Georgie Henley. Originally I was going to go with Joey King, but once I knew Skandar was my Tobin, I had to pick Georgie. They have such wonderful chemistry together as siblings, and Georgie's sweet face would inspire anyone, even tough-guy Alexander, to jump in front of a spear gun dart. At the same time, Georgie can also handle the tough stuff. Bria is a lot like Lucy in that she's innocent but willing to fight if she has to.
Photo credit: unknown photoshoot, courtesy of Simply Georgie

Ree: Shay Mitchell. After seeing some of Pretty Little Liars, I know Shay can handle being the beautiful tough girl.
Photo credit: unknown photoshoot, Shay Mitchell Online

Thom: Robert Capron. I haven't seen any of the Wimpy Kid movies, but Robert's face stuck with me as I was looking for my Thom. He's got a sweet, trusting face, and I can see him being the gentle giant Thom is in the books.
Photo credit: IMDB

Kalli: Keke Palmer. It took me a while, but I thought Keke really looked like the vision of Kalli I had in my head.
Photo credit: unknown photoshoot, Keke Daily

Penn: Lee Min-ho. My sister got me into Boys Over Flowers this year so when I read that Penn was Asian, my mind immediately jumped to the boys of the F4. From watching Min-ho brood on-screen as brooding master Goo Jun-pyo, I knew he was the best pick for a sorrowful, angry, and even repentant Penn.
Photo credit: Allure Korea, courtesy of Heartthrob Candy

There are actually TWO giveaways for you to enter! The first is a tour-wide giveaway for a finished copy of The Neptune Project. US only. Open until June 30.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

This second giveaway is hosted by me personally for another finished copy of The Neptune Project. US/Canada only. Open until midnight July 3.
a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Great review & casting. Thanks for participating :)

    1. Thanks, Shane! I can't wait to do more IFB tours!

  2. Hmmm, the ability to never ever gain weight no matter what I eat? And also, I would have bones made of steel so that my disability would be nonexistent!

    1. Oooh, I like your thinking, Rachel! I could go for the first one for sure! And if you had metal bones, you would be like the female Wolverine, minus the mutton chops and claws. You might have to stand in the airport security line a bit longer, though!

  3. So excited! (: I would like the ability to know what's bothering my babies. That whole guessing game until they're completely vocal and able to be understood thing really stinks 99.9% of the time. That 0.1% of the time is when I get lucky in my guessing haha.

    1. So, like telepathy for babies or a medical xray vision or something? Sounds cool!

    2. Yup something along those lines (: Not even 5 minutes after I posted last night Ladybug started spazzing!

  4. If I was genetically mortified I would want to be able to read faster so I could get through my TBR list faster ;)

    1. That's a good one! I don't think I'd like it for me because if I read faster, I'd have a hard time remembering what I've read, but that definitely is a great skill!

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