Lana and her best friend, Kitty, both fleeing dysfunctional families, are young wanderers exploring the Far East. They discover the yacht The Blue and join its crew of similar free spirits, young people living off family money or scraping by making art. It seems like paradise–sailing beautiful seas, walking around interesting towns in exotic islands–but not all is well in paradise. Strained relations develop between crewmembers, a horrible accident (or was it?) takes place on passage, and Lana leaves the boat and settles in New Zealand. There, she learns that The Blue has sunk, the fate of the crew unknown.
The book toggles back and forth between “now,” with Lana waiting for news with the families of her crewmates at the Search and Rescue Centre, and “then,” the time on the yacht when trusts were betrayed and tensions both romantic and adversarial were building. Information about the crew and their feelings is revealed piece by piece in both sections, until we have a picture of a boat weighted down with trouble, and the reason Lana left her friends behind to return to shore. In the end, truths come out and issues are resolved among the survivors, with a surprising little twist at the end.
This book is exceptionally well written, with well-described scenes and good character development. This actually makes it a tough read: one knows that bad things are going to happen to people one has learned to care about. The descriptions of sailing a beautiful yacht, making passage on lovely (for the most part) seas, journeying to exotic ports, will make sailors want to bend on the sails and head out.
The Blue is a heartbreaking book. Young people, drifting through life on a beautiful boat, are heading toward disaster and loss. It will make the reader either envious or sad.