I found out about this cool event called the YA Scavenger Hunt. It is put on twice a year and basically involves going on a scavenger hunt through different young adult author’s blogs. While doing this you get the opportunity to read sneak peaks into unpublished books or insight into an author’s writing process. That is how I learned about Blue Voyage by Diana Renn. I got to see photos from her trip to Turkey as she did research from the book and I got to read a little snippet from the book. Let’s just say I was hooked right away from that snippet. I finally got my hands on a copy of the book thanks to my husband’s Valentine’s Day gift to me.
Blue Voyage follows the story of Zan, a sixteen year old girl, who is being forced to visit her aunt in Turkey with her mother. Back in the States Zan’s family had just faced a media scandal as her father, attorney general of Massachusetts currently running for an office position, got caught having an affair and Zan got caught shoplifting. So Zan and her mother runaway to Turkey where her recently widowed aunt runs a hotel. When they arrive they are shocked by the amount of Turkish police they see. They learn that there has been a series of robberies at different museums and Turkey is losing lots of it’s artifacts to smugglers. Soon Zan gets mixed up in this smuggling ring and the mystery of an ancient treasure as she travels from the Turkish Rivera, Istanbul, and Cappadocia.
One thing I really liked about this book was the setting. I especially loved when they were on their Blue Voyage, a cruise in the Mediterranean. I could just picture it in my head as they floated along the coast of Turkey. Especially when they came across the ruins carved into the rocks. I also liked the atmosphere of Istanbul. Zan would go to the Grand Bazaar and I could practically see it in my head. The author does a great job of creating a setting for this story to take place. You could tell she had visited where she wrote because down to the smallest details and the history behind everything it was so clear.
I also enjoyed the plot. There is a lot of mystery and adventure in the story line. The beginning of the book was a little slow to start but once it got going it was fast paced and kept me turning pages to find out what happened. I have found a lot of times with young adult mystery books the plots can be somewhat predictable. However, this one was written so that you kept getting pieces of the puzzle and you solved it along side Zan. When you figured something out you could be sure Zan had figured it out as well. I also enjoyed the blend of history with the issue of smuggling. For a lot of countries like Turkey, they hold a lot of history. So stealing those artifacts and smuggling them out of the country is like stealing their history.
One thing I disliked about the book was how much the “shoplifting is bad” message was pushed. At times while I was reading the book I felt like my mother was lecturing me or I was back in high school sitting in one of those designated “don’t do drugs” classes only this one was on shoplifting. I get that she was trying to show that Zan learned her lesson about shoplifting but I think she did more telling straight forward, instead of showing. A few times in the book it felt like she was force feeding you the message when really Zan’s actions alone showed she had learned her lesson.
I had mixed feelings about Zan’s character. I liked that she was willing to listen to everyone’s side of the story. Her aunt believes that her husband was murdered and that his death was not just an accident. While her mom just writes her aunt off as grieving and being slightly crazy from the grief, Zan decides to listen to aunt and give her a change to explain why she thinks her husband was murdered. That is the only example I can give without giving away any of the plot but if you read it you will see that she always willing to hear someone out before making a judgment on them. However, I was frustrated with her because she did not accept herself. She had the skin condition vitiligo and put on lots of make up to hide it on her and wore long skirts and long shirts to hide in everywhere else. She was so worried that people would judge her and think she was a freak. I just wanted her to stop hiding it and accept that she was beautiful no matter what anyone thought. I do understand though that from a sixteen year old perspective that can be tough. I was a sixteen year old girl once too so I know that people that age can be mean. In the end she did learn to not care what others thought.
I did really enjoy this book. I was almost sad when it ended because I was enjoying reading it so much. It definitely gave me wanderlust!