This second Christian suspense book in the "Cooper Kids Adventure" series by Frank E. Peretti is published by Good News Publishers, Crossway Books.
Escape From the Island of Aquarius is written for kids ages 8 to 12. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.
A dead man is found floating in the South Pacific with a medallion from the island of Aquarius. The note in his pocket triggers the International Missionary Alliance to hire the Cooper family to investigate the possibility that their missionary to this island is still alive. When the Coopers find the island, they also discover that the missionary, Adam MacKenzie, is no longer a man of God. He tells the investigators that a strange curse or power by the name of Moro-Kunda rules the island. They hear strange chants in the night and see first-hand a man who appears to have been cursed. As the Coopers are making their way back to their boat to leave, they find a pit with altars. MacKenzie finds them on the sacred ground and tells them that they are under the curse. They are put in a hut only to discover that the cause of the curse is not supernatural but rather spiders that have deadly bites. The Coopers escape only to be found by MacKenzie, again. He sends Jay and Dr. Cooper down into a watery whirlpool and puts Lila in a sacrificial pit. Jay and Dr. Cooper are rescued by someone who claims to be the real Adam MacKenzie. He tells them that he lives underground in a cavern and explains that the island is sinking. The quaking and shaking of the island picks up as they make their way back to the sacrificial pit to find Lila. Unbeknownst to them, Lila was saved at the last minute by a native named Candle. Meanwhile, Dr. Cooper finds Lila's necklace and blood in the pit and goes to confront the fake MacKenzie, whose real name is Kelno. As the island starts to break apart, Adam extends an invitation to the villagers to board his boat. The group makes it to the boat only to find the water is too high to leave the cavern. Adam and Dr. Cooper make sure everyone aboard the boat knows Jesus. From where she is, Lila gets the idea to set off explosives to lower the water level inside the cavern so Adam's Ark can escape. The explosives lower the water level, and the ark is able to go out to sea. Lila is saved, as is Candle and various other islanders that are floating in the water. Kelno does not make it, and soon the island is engulfed in water and disappears before their eyes.
The Cooper family displays a strong belief in God. Even though they question God during difficult times, they do not lose faith in Him. As Lila is bound and being lowered into a serpent's pit, she continues to cry out to God, who gives her His peace. When Dr. Cooper believes that Kelno has killed Lila, he attempts to take revenge. In the middle of his anger, he realizes what he is doing and backs off. He tells Kelno and reminds himself that he and his children belong to God. The real Adam MacKenzie also displays strong Christian beliefs. Even though he was thrown into the watery chasm with the thought that he would die, he doesn't and forgives those who have wronged him. Then daily he prays for the salvation and the physical health of the people in the village. He is quick to help and to share the Gospel.
Dr. Cooper is a strong Christian who continually shows his love to his children. When they are in tough situations, he directs their focus to God. He knows that God is their only resource in any situation. At one point, Dr. Cooper believes that Kelno has killed his daughter, Lila, and is enraged. He finds Kelno and threatens to kill him. As he speaks these words, he hears what he is saying and realizes that he is wrong. He tells Kelno that he has given himself and his children to God. If God chooses to let one of them die, then He can. He then warns Kelno about the danger he and his people are in and offers to help them off the island. Kelno, on the other hand, is a negative role model. Kelno believes that he is a god. He is surprised when the island does not obey his command to stop quaking. He leads the group of villagers with threats and intimidation. If they do not agree with him, they eventually die by his command. He leads the group in pagan rituals, which includes walking on hot coals and offering him homage. His followers follow him blindly until they finally learn that he does not have the power to stop the island from sinking. Kelno also encourages his followers to believe that they can save the island. Kelno has faith in himself up until the moment he dies.
Other Belief Systems
Kelno and his followers' beliefs are Satanic. They believe in such rituals as fire walking and human and animal sacrifices. They use these sacrifices to appease the island gods. Kelno commands the other villagers to bow down to him. While the villagers are confused by the earthquakes and by what the Coopers and Adam are telling them, Kelno reminds them that they can save the island. Their god within is all they need to save themselves and the island. He is convinced of his own deity and is surprised when the island does not obey his command to stop quaking. He is also surprised when a large serpent is not intimidated by his presence.
If your children have read this book or someone has read it to them, consider these discussion topics:
- Who does Kelno believe is god?
Do you know anyone who believes this, also?
Why do you think it is easier for people to believe in themselves than it is for them to believe in God?
- Why is it so difficult to give God control of your life?
What things in your own life would you rather figure out for yourself?
What would it take for you to relinquish control to God?
- How does Dr. Cooper feel after he thinks Lila has been killed?
What does he remember about his revenge versus God's revenge?
Have you ever wanted to take revenge for something?
Did you give that situation to God, or did you take care of it yourself?
What was the result?
- How does Adam show God's love to the villagers?
How do you show God's love to unbelievers in your life?
Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. A book's inclusion does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.