The Vanishing Island by Barry Wolverton
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I think pirates are interesting, but, for whatever reason, the more swashbuckling narratives never seem to grab me. The Vanishing Island is probably the best of the lot that I've had an opportunity to read over the years, but even then, it's been more of a slog than an enjoyment, and part of it may be due to curriculum changes we've seen recently.
Part of the charm of this one is some of the historical nods. A kid desperate to get on a ship ends up apprenticing under Rand McNally, he eventually enlists on a ship searching for Marco Polo's treasure. There's mysterious forces at play as well, so it becomes a sort of classic pirate tale in many regards. Where this book begins to fall flat is the attempts (over and over and over) to include nonfictional pieces within the narrative. The facts strewn about in the story absolutely break the narrative, and drag down the entire story as a result.
It's not unreadable by any means. If you or your kid reader like pirate tales, this is actually a pretty decent one. Certainly better than The Map to Everywhere, as a more recent comparison. It's just frustrating where the book feels like it has a bunch of information crammed into it so the story can be more palatable to a Common Core era. There's no need for it, and it could have been a much better story if it was a lot tighter on a whole.
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