I finished the book over a week ago and have been mulling over what I should say about it. I think my expectations for the book may have been too high. First, I like pirate books, who doesn’t? And then it has received a couple of awards, so I expected it to be really good. Bear with me while I go through a list of things I liked and things that were…not so clear.
The good: “PG-13 for violence and light adult themes” ~ The publisher actually rated this book themselves (yay! You go, PYP).
The not-so-clear: People died in the book and it was no big deal. Unlike R.L. Copple’s book Mind Game (review here), there was no apparent respect for life. Perhaps they weren’t “real” in the main character’s opinion since they were in an alternate reality setting, but this wasn’t clear. I was just surprised at how violence and death were handled in the book. I would have expected more gravity, grief, remorse, and there wasn’t really any.
Crossover = A book that Christians and non-Christians are both supposed to like. That means that there can be references to God but its supposed to be more main stream. (At least that’s my take on it).
The good: There were a lot of biblical references in the book, and some were quite clever. For instance,
“The point is, you should show a little more respect. If not, you could end up like those boys in the Bible who were eaten by bears”
“Bears ate boys in the Bible?”
“The book of Second Kings.”
Don’t remember the reference? Check out 2 Kings 2:23-25. The moral? Don’t mess with Elisha. No name calling.
The bad: So the author references the “Big Guy” in a positive, if flippant, way. But we have two figures in the book that seem to be some sort of spiritual guide–a dead pregnant Asian ex-neighbor and a Hispanic guy named Paco–who give the main character, Ricky, advice/options. The woman claims to be from God and tells him not to trust Paco. We don’t know what to believe, and Ricky tends not to do what the Asian woman (who is ostensibly from God?) wants. It’s confusing and the end of the book doesn’t resolve who is the good advisor–presumably we will learn that in a sequel.
I’m not sure epilepsy counts as a social issue, but the book was written in part to raise money to help kids and adults who suffer with epilepsy.
“My goal in writing this book was to spur the imagination of young readers. Boys especially. But I also want to help kids (and adults) who suffer with epilepsy.”
The author/publisher are giving away part of the proceeds from book sales to raise money. Also, Ricky is epileptic. It’s actually the reason (I think) that he ends up in pirate country. It seems like he has an out-of-body experience during an epileptic seizure that almost causes him to drown. But that part’s confusing also.
And that was my big quandary with the book. It was confusing, and nothing was resolved at the end.
Pirates are realistic in this book, which is different than books which portray them as heroes. The book is a bit disjointed (or at least I thought so) in the way it jumps from scene to scene and sometimes it is difficult to tell what’s going on. I like to think I’m a pretty savvy reader, but I was kinda lost on this one. I thought I had it figured out but without the expected clarification at the end, the book is like one of those TV shows that leave you with a “to be continued…” frustration.
I think teenage boys would probably enjoy this book–it’s the intended audience. Unlike Mike Lupica’s Hero (review here), I don’t know that it will have broad appeal outside that audience. The book is set up as the beginning of a series.