Chandler Bloom starts her day like every other—on her surfboard and away from her smothering grandparents. It’s the only way she’s been able to cope since the hit-and-run that killed her parents two years ago. But when a shark nearly turns Chandler into breakfast, a loner surfer named Ari saves her life. Which is great, except that he also triggers new questions about her parents’ deaths. Before Chandler can ask him more, Ari disappears. Desperate for answers, Chandler decides to track down Ari with the help of her best friend Jordan, a surfer guy who’s totally in love with her. The search leads to Ari’s home—a hidden island that can only be found with a form of light called xaris. But Chandler isn’t the only one searching for the island or the unearthly elements found there. Her parents died protecting it, and if Chandler doesn’t come to grips with what she’s really chasing, she could be next.
When I read the summary, it reminded me a lot of the surf movies “Blue Crush” and “Soul Surfer,” or even a little of the animated “Surfs Up.” So if you like those movies and reading… this is a great one to buy. I don’t surf, so how could I enjoy a book like this, right? Well, I did actually! A girl who is really into surfing and gets attacked by a shark sounds a little cliché, but in this case, something bigger is going on in the story, which keeps it intriguing and inspiring.
Another aspect I enjoyed about the book is that the surfers’ dialogue really comes out. There is lots of talking, so the book is not very difficult to read. The main character of the story, Chandler, is portrayed as a heroic character. The book takes a cross-genre leap from surfing to solving the mystery of murdered parents and a lost civilization with many Greek words and names, such as xaris, aletheia, prytanis, helena, delphina, nikandros… etc. I had ancient Greek in high school myself and appreciate the authentic referrals in this young adult reader. Graduating in high school, I took a lot of history and language classes, which certainly makes this fictional story more interesting.
“Chasing Xaris” sparks the imagination, as the colors yellow, green, and blue paint your mind, because of the tropical surf setting, but at the same time it adds tension and curiosity as to what happened to the assassinated parents and the fantasy powers of the fictional lost civilization, which contains realistic elements.
Vincent Noot, illustrator and editor