'Escape from Atlantis' Book Club: Day 2

By: Shanleigh Klassen

— “But that’s not fair; you’re working like everyone else.”
— “True, but this is the way it is in Atlantis.”

Welcome back to day two of our book club read-along of Escape from Atlantis by Kate O’Hearn! The stakes are raising for Riley and Alfie, and the mysteries of Atlantis and the Community keep getting murkier and murkier.

Remember, this is a spoiler discussion for chapters 13-20 of Escape from Atlantis. Discussion questions are listed below, and anyone who participates in the comments will be entered to win a free OwlCrate Jr box, one per post!

Now strap on those life vests and hang on tight!

The Story Continues . . .

Chapter 13

As Bastian brings Riley and Alfie down to dinner, he explains that each person in the Community has a job and that they'll both be expected to work too. The three of them head out of the cruise ship towards another elaborately laid-out banquet. At the head table with all the other kids, Riley is introduced to everyone there and notes how, like Bastian, they’re all unusually polite... During dinner, Riley and Alfie attempt to ask the other children about their lives before Atlantis, but learn from Bastian that most of them have no memories prior to the island.

After dinner, the Community hosts a bonfire where Beresford starts off by telling stories of the Atlantean heroes and the Leviathan. After the Community members sing for a bit, Riley and Alfie ask Bastian to return to the Queen. On their walk back, the three  are followed by a creature in the trees overhead, leading Riley to believe it’s Mada. Though the growling increases, it suddenly stops and they are discovered by Shane. Though Riley attempts to explain what happened, Shane doesn’t believe them, asserting that as Red Cloaks are banned from this area, it couldn’t have been Mada. Later that night, Alfie comes again to Riley’s room and asks to stay the night, just so neither of them is alone. Riley agrees, and they both try their best to sleep.

Chapter 14

After a restless night, Riley gets up early. Leaving a note for Alfie, who’s sleeping on her couch, Riley goes for a walk. Wandering through the forest, Riley looks out upon the other island that runs alongside Atlantis, the Forbidden Zone. She hears terrible sounds and roars coming from the island, which gives her the chills. As Riley starts to leave, she hears the sound of a woman screaming coming from the Forbidden Zone. Though it was faint, Riley is sure the woman is her Aunt Mary!

Riley leans as far over the steep drop to the water as possible, crying out for her aunt, but is stopped by Pea’s arrival. In an attempt to calm Riley down, Pea shares that “before the change,” he was a carpenter. Riley takes notice of this statement, and Pea is horrified that he may have shared too much with her.

Later, Riley tells her courin all about what she just heard and found out. Riley hypothesizes that maybe their parents were sent off to the Forbidden Zone because Atlantis wanted more kids, but not the adults. Alfie declares that tonight, they will dig up their parents' grave and check to see if they're really buried there.

Chapter 15

The next day, Bastian tells Riley and Alfie that they’ll be receiving their tasks today. At the dining area for breakfast, they are all greeted warmly by the other children, except by Kerry who’s jealous that Bastian is spending so much time with the new arrivals. Riley snaps at Kerry, but quickly apologizes. Kerry snaps back at Riley and storms off, causing Riley to wonder if she’s just made another enemy.

After breakfast, Alfie is sent off to shadow Bastian on his tasks, while Riley is taken to the sewing hut to learn how to mend clothing. There, Riley meets a friendly group of women, as well as a cat-woman in a yellow cloak. Kerry volunteers to be Riley’s teacher, although she doesn’t so much teach Riley how to sew as criticize her mistakes. Maggie, the cat-woman, kindly offers to help Riley out instead. When everyone is called to lunch, Maggie leaves in the opposite direction, saying that as a Yellow Cloak, she is not allowed to dine with the others.

At the end of the day, Alfie shares that he now knows where the Community stores the tools — handy for when they plan their escape. Riley describes Maggie, and Alfie shares that he met two other Yellow Cloaks as well, one resembling a gorilla and the other a rhinoceros.

After dinner and yet another bonfire, Riley and Alfie hang back as everyone else returns to the Queen. They sneak away to the gravesite and begin to dig up Aunt Mary’s grave. They dig long enough to hit solid, undisturbed earth, proving that Aunt Mary was not actually buried. With renewed vigor, they turn over to Andrew’s grave and once again, find it empty! Buoyed by the knowledge that both their parents could still be alive, the cousins fill in the graves to cover their tracks and head back to the cruise ship. On the way back, however, they hear that same deep growl from earlier coming from the trees behind them.

All at once, the figure from the trees knocks Riley to the ground! As suspected, it’s Mada the Red Cloak and he is furious. In the scuffle, his hood falls back, revealing him to be a horrifying cross between a man and a tiger! Riley tries to reason with him, but Mada doesn’t listen. He injures her and lunges forward to finish the kill . . .

Chapter 16

Mada is stopped in the nick of time by someone else, only Riley doesn’t see who. Before Mada is able to attack Riley again, he is lifted off her and seemingly carried away. Alfie claims it was a monster who saved Riley. Alfie helps Riley bind her wounds and they shakily make their way back to the Queen. Back on board, they clean and dress her injuries as Alfie attempts to describe the creature that saved her. Riley comes to realize that the animals on the Atlantis may have all actually been human at one time, which means that her dad and Aunt Mary may not have long until they begin to turn as well...

Chapter 17

The next day, Bastian comes to bring them to breakfast as usual but finds Riley and Alfie covered in dirt and blood. Riley shares with Bastian the events of the previous night, though he’s reluctant to believe that Beresford lied. More so, Riley shares that she suspects that Miss Pigglesworth, the dog that always follows Bastian around and whom he can understand perfectly, was most likely his governess at one point before she turned. When Miss Pigglesworth confirms Riley’s suspicions, Bastian is shocked and frightened that he can’t seem to remember her former self at all. Bastian wants to ask Beresford, but Riley and Alfie stop him, saying they suspect Beresford is a part of the big lie. Miss Pigglesworth thinks Beresford and the others might have used Memory Berries to make everyone forget about their lives before the island! In order to find out the truth, Bastian agrees to keep quiet.

Chapter 18

Riley, Alfie, and Bastian continue on as if nothing is amiss, though Bastian struggles to keep up appearances. Riley and Alfie meet up at the end of the day and head over to where Riley  thought she heard Aunt Mary in the Forbidden Zone. Bastian meets up with them, and Alfie decides he’s going to swim over to the other island to look for his mother and Uncle Andrew. Though he swims hard, he doesn’t make much progress against the heavy current. Then, Alfie feels something pushing him back towards Atlantis just as Riley and Bastian spy the Leviathan heading straight for Alfie! He makes it back just as the beast rears out of the water. It seems it may be true what Bastian once said: “there is no leaving Atlantis.”

Bastian explains that the only way over to the Forbidden Zone is during a Red Moon, when the tide goes so far out that a land bridge remains between the two islands. During this time, all the wild animals cross over, endangering the whole Community. The unicorns ensure that the creatures do not break into the Queen during that time and drive them all back to their island. Bastian says Atlantis is due for another Red Moon any day now . . .

Chapter 19

Riley and Alfie spend the next few days attempting to come up with different ways of getting over to the Forbidden Zone with little success. During a sewing lesson with Maggie, the horn from the Queen sounds, a warning to the Community to return to the ship immediately — the Red Moon is coming. Riley is horrified to discover that the cloaked creatures are forbidden from seeking safety aboard the Queen. Riley refuses to accept this and instead uses the clothes they’ve been repairing to disguise Maggie’s feline-ness. Riley grabs Alfie and Bastian to help her sneak Maggie on board. Alfie runs out and returns with Pea, determined to sneak him on board as well.

As the group approaches the ramp that leads into the Queen, Riley successfully distracts Shane and Beresford from the others boarding the ship. Safely on board and hidden in Riley's cabin, Pea reminisces about living aboard the Queen and thanks them for the risk they’ve taken.

As the fog rolls in, Pea and Maggie reveal that though no one knows why the transformation happens or how, it will affect everyone eventually. Some are able to retain their humanity during their change, but others embrace it and lose all that once made them human. Once the transformation is complete, they are judged by the Community and their fate is decided: if they are gentle and seem to pose no threat, they may remain; but if they have become too dangerous, they will be banished to the Forbidden Zone.

Chapter 20

Bastian and Alfie grab enough food for their small party and bring with them one of the youngest kids on the island, Soraya. As the fog continues outside, they begin to hear snarling and growling all around the Queen as the wildings surround the ship. The Red Moon is more terrifying than Riley could ever imagine, and all she can think of are the poor Blue and Yellow Cloaks outside.

Suddenly, there are loud thumps on the ship from above. Riley is sure this is the moment when something horrible will break through ceiling, but Pea only sighs in relief and says “we are safe now; the gargoyles are here.”

Discussion Questions:

  1. We know that the cloaked figures on the island are animal in appearance and that the Red Cloaks are the most feared. Knowing this, why do you think some wear blue cloaks and others wear yellow? What do you think these colors represent?

  2. Riley deduces that all the cloaked animals on Atlantis were once humans. Why then do you think the Community treats them so differently, even though they were once members of the Community themselves?

  3. So far, we’ve encountered the Leviathan, mermaids, unicorns, and now, gargoyles. Which of these amazing, but powerful creatures would you want to meet the most? How about the least? 

Do you have questions you'd like to ask about Escape from Atlantis?
Drop them in the comments for everyone to answer!

Join us again on Friday as we discuss chapters 21-27 of Escape from Atlantis. Happy reading!

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