The Arm of the Starfish

Narrated by: Michael Crouch
Series: O'Keefe Family, Book 1
Length: 7 hrs and 38 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (130 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

When Adam Eddington, a gifted marine biology student, makes the acquaintance of blond and beautiful Kali Cutter at Kennedy International Airport on his way to Portugal to spend the summer working for the renowned scientist Dr. O'Keefe, he has no idea that this seemingly chance meeting will set into motion a chain of events he will be unable to stop.

Caught between Kali's seductive wiles and the trusting adoration of Dr. O'Keefe's daughter, Poly, Adam finds himself enmeshed in a deadly power struggle between two groups of people, only one of which can have right on its side. As the danger escalates, Adam must make a decision that could affect the entire world - which side is he on?

©2016 Madeleine L'Engle (P)2016 Listening Library

What listeners say about The Arm of the Starfish

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

L'Engle's young adult spy thriller

I have read several Madeleine L’Engle books this year, but mostly her lesser known fiction or non-fiction that has been out of print and is now only available in ebook formats. I still have a couple of her young adult books that I have never read, including most of the O’Keefe family series.

The Arm of the Starfish is the first of the O’Keefe family series (Calvin and Meg from the Wrinkle in Time series are married and the focus is primarily on Polly their daughter.) I had some insight into the family because the main focus on this book is Adam Eddington, who is also a character (set a summer later) in the Austin Family series book A Ring of Endless Light.

Because I have read A Ring of Endless Light, I knew some of the results of the Arm of the Starfish but not the main story. The Arm of the Starfish is set as a young adult spy thriller. Adam is a young college biology major (he graduated from high school early and is only 17.) He has been encouraged to apply for a job with Dr O’Keefe that is on an island off the coast of Spain working with starfish and regeneration.

Starting early, Adam is not quite sure who to trust because of a vague warning from a beautiful girl while waiting for an airplane. That starts a sort of young adult spy thriller. There is a kidnapping, some gun play, document drops, secret science, coded messages and double crosses.

While the basic story is fine, it is not one of L’Engle’s best books and the timelines and personalities for the overlapping characters from other books don’t quite add up. Adam feels older than 17 (probably 19-20). Poly, except for being repeatedly reminded that she has not physically developed into a woman yet, feels older than 12. Meg (always referred to as Mrs O’Keefe) has basically no real role in the book other than mother, even though we know she has a PhD of her own in mathematics. Her personality from the Wrinkle in Time series is basically missing. Calvin (Dr O’Keefe) seems relatively similar to his character from the Wrinkle series.

The spy craft is weak, although I had just finished reading a John le Carré novel. L’Engle did get some of the feel of the ethical dilemmas associated with spy craft right.

In the end this is a young adult novel. I wanted the characters to grow up a bit, but they were supposed to be young. It is definitely from an earlier era where teens were allowed to travel on their own and, while not always comfortable being on their own, were expected to be able to find their way through international airports and through customs and in foreign cities. Reading L’Engle always reminds me we live in a different era.

It not one of my favorite L’Engle books, but certainly not a bad young adult book.

10 people found this helpful

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Powerful Story

Great story, fairly well delivered! It held my attention and is well worth listening to over and over again.
I remember loving this book when I was a child and it was first published. As an adult living in these times, the scientific background and the morality of the story is fascinates and moves me more deeply.
However, that same view finds the sociopathic behavior of the Cutters a bit underdeveloped and the responses of our heroes seems too naive.
Even so, the book holds powerful lessons for this Senior Citizen now and especially during these challenging times!
Michael does a fantastic job of switching from the male to the female voice. At first, I thought there were two readers. His delivery seems a little too clipped at times but that is a minor issue.
Well done!

3 people found this helpful

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Down Right Trash

This book is awful. It was highly advised to me. Boy what a dreadful disappointment!

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A Good Book

This story is not as immediately engaging as the Time Quintet. I didn't get to hear nearly as much from or about Dr. O'Keif and Meg as I would have liked.

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Dissapointed

I loved L'Engle's books growing up! This one seemed unrealistic and I felt the adults in charge were not responsible enough . It was suspenseful but the naivety of Adam was annoying and the death of one of the main characters, at the end made me angry. I really liked him and felt he was the true hero in the book

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Could not put this book down

This book kept me engaged from the beginning to the end. Felt deeply connected to the characters and loved the visual descriptions of the different places described. I’ve just finished the Time Quintet — this book is quite different and in some ways my favorite by L’Engle so far. Now onto the next book in the series!

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Great story, not a big fan of the ending though...

Great story, not a big fan of the ending though - just didn't seem like enough closure. Narrator did a great job.