Amphibians are people who can ‘swim’ through anything, whether it be trees, buildings, soil or rock. They can ‘turn on their ability’ and just literally ‘dive in’. Using the usual swimming stroke, they can swim UP a tree, dive into the ground and swim through it, can dive into rock and swim through that as well.
The story basically is about saving the planet and people from the destruction of war and pollution, and living in harmony with nature.
The book is in three parts.
In part one, Max and his friends discover an organization called FreshAir. This organization has different experiments and simulations to help prepare the natural world for the coming pollution epidemic and natural disasters. All the plants and animals inside their experiments adapt, growing ten times larger than their normal size and developing other features to help make it through the harshest environments that will come to the planet. This was also the birthplace of the Amphibians.
Part two fast-forwards through all the disasters and destruction of the planet where the Amphibians work in nature to save and secure as much as possible. Part two starts with Animasks, the last city in the only inhabitable place on the planet. Here there is a schism between the people in the city who decided to wear animal masks. Some of the Animasks remember the Amphibians, but many forgot about them. They wear these animal masks because FreshAir knows how easy it is for people to again create things that will destroy the planet. This new culture they create is supposed to counteract against excessive pollution. The problem is the wilderness is still dangerous and it is slowly coming to Animasks. It is only the Amphibians who can save them, but they first have to reconcile their differences. The major themes are cross-cultural reconciliation and identity. After the Amphibians make their pledge to the people again, there is another fast-forward where the machines are created as a substitute to the Amphibians to protect their city. Now, the humans can be safe from the wilderness and expand into new territories through the manual labor of giant machines.
Part three takes place after this, and stars Thomas who is particularly oppressed by the machines. The machines have two major functions – security and expansion. Part of the security includes limiting human freedom in case they start creating things that will endanger the planet again. There is a tension between freedom and logic, knowing humans may destroy the environment again, but also knowing living under the machines is not living at all. The ultimate plea to the reader is what our part in the story is. How do we find balance between allowing freedom and ensuring environmental protection? What can we do to regain harmony with our planet? After all, we all have gifts to offer that should never be hidden. The Amphibians are the answer in the story because of their unique gifts. What are ours?