Kid vs Squid, by Greg van Eekhout (May 11, 2010, Bloomsbury, middle-grade, 256 pages in ARC form)
Spending his summer with fake mermaids and other assorted grotesqueries wasn't Thatcher's idea, but he had no choice. Dumped at a ghastly sea-side town in California by his parents, he spends his days dusting the creepy curiosities in his uncle's museum. But one night a mysterious girl steals the creepiest of all--a shrunken head, and Thatcher takes off in pursuit.
The thief is no ordinary girl--she's a princess of lost Atlantis. The head is no ordinary shrunken head--it belongs to the evil witch Skalla who destroyed Atlantis long ago. And now Skalla wants her head back...and, incidentally, plans to destroy the whole town, along with everyone in it, and quite possibly take over the world.
Standing against her are Thatcher (ordinary boy), Trudy (ordinary girl, except for her keen interest in the FBI's techniques), and Shoal (princess of Atlantis), who can't really do much for most of the book because of being swallowed by an evil fish. So, in non-stop action, a swirling mass of evil lobster-men, jellyfish boys, strangely intelligent sharks, the flotsam of Atlantis, and two (ordinary) kids converges in an epic struggle. And then the giant squid shows up...
The author has an enjoyable dry wit, and the story is enlivened with quite a few funny bits, such as this one:
"That's a submarine," I said.
"Oh, aye, she's called the Other Nautilus. And a fine vessel she is. She's not seaworthy, but for a death trap, aye, a very fine vessel." p 145 of arc (hee hee)
At times the intensity of the action threatens to overwhelm the characterization, but that should not be a deterrent to the young reader who wants something fast and wacky.
Here's another review, at Bib-Laura-graphy.
(arc picked up at ALA midwinter)