Expendable Natives
by Roger Anderson
Trafford Publishing

"He also knew the way to investigate a so-called coincidence was to research what preceded it."

Lissa Seawright is visiting her mother in Pacific City, California, when she finds a sea lion having a seizure on the beach. The incident gets the attention of a curious reporter, Logan Price, and staff members of the Pinniped Rescue Center after more sea lions wash up on shore while having seizures. While the rescue center attempts to figure out what is causing the seizures, Logan starts researching past instances in Pacific City to find a trend or culprit. The two eventually team up to tackle a big ecological threat, but will they succeed in getting justice?

One of the more interesting aspects of this novel is putting Logan’s journalist research methods front and center, thus revealing how the novel’s plot plays out. As Logan goes through the newspaper's archives, conducts interviews with locals, and performs his own footwork, many different characters are introduced, and it’s almost like a mystery. Which of the players—the fishermen, the oil company, or the sewage company—are responsible for what’s happening to the sea lions? Readers can feel as if they’re doing the research and putting the pieces together.

The author does a great job of emphasizing the importance of a healthy, local environment through the characters of the sea lions. Many times, characters state that sea lions aren’t useful, at least for humans, but the animals turn out to be an important part of the ecosystem. The author manages to stress how one sick creature in an ecosystem can point to a larger problem, and how human activity can impact the environment, but without being overbearing in getting the point across.

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