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Posted December 6, 2012
I don't often read middle grade books. I'm one of those people who read whatever catches my eye; most of that happens to fall into the YA category. Sometimes I'll read adult, sometimes I'll read middle grade, and most will have some crossover appeal.
I spotted Murder Afloat at BEA last year and - hello? Book with possible pirate themes? Of course I'm in. I love pirates. And even though the book was kind of pirate-ish (there are, sadly, no actual pirates) I wasn't as thrilled as I thought I'd be.
Middle grade books walk a very fine line, much finer than YA or childrens books do. They have to be able to fully develop a world and characters while keeping the book short enough and simply written enough to hold the average pre-teen's interest. And as interesting as I found the basic plot to be, it failed in that respect. The characters I was interested in most were the characters that we were shown the least of. I know it was a middle grade book, and thus designed to be short, but another 50 to 100 pages or so wouldn't have killed it. (I've seen bigger YA books.)
Honestly, Benjy was interesting, but I wanted to hit him sometimes. The villains were typical villains. Plot wise, I liked it - any character that starts to form some attachment to the sea I automatically adore. I guess I love sailors and pirates and what have you. - but I thought the characters could have been much better, even if it is 'just a middle grade novel.' (I hate dissing down the MG novels, because I've read some amazing ones, but seeing as I focus so much on YA on this blog - 'cause it's, you know, a YA blog - I feel the need to specify.)
As for the world - again, I understand it's a shorter story designed to reel the reader in. But if I hadn't double checked, I would have been oblivious to what era we were in. The only hints I got were mentions of the war and of bicycles - and, of course, the oysters themselves. But I barely knew when some of those things were going on, what in Rowling makes you think that somebody a good ten years younger than me is going to know what time it is? The world could have been much more detailed, or at least given a specific time period so I knew where I was.
Posted December 14, 2010
Starting off in a middle class home in the 19th Century, this book becomes a fast paced cliff hanger, after teenage Benjamin is kidnapped by oyster fisherman, and forced to undergo the rigors of life at sea in the winter. Will he survive? Will he escape? Will his captors be brought to justice? I won't spoil the story!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.