Sunday, March 18, 2012

Man Overboard!—Curtis Parkinson

The actual conversation wherein the FBI agent tells a 16-year-old kid he's just met that he's an FBI agent, with relatively no prompting.
"You mean you were on the Rapids Prince when my colleague Derek Patterson went overboard?"


"Derek Patterson was your colleague?"

"Derek Patterson is...I mean was...the one who'd been following Heinrik since he landed from the U-boat. We weren't ready to nab Heinrik yet as we wanted to see who his contacts were first."

"But who was Derek Patterson? And who are you?"

The main sighed. "I guess I need to explain. I'm from the FBI -" (85)

I was beyond thrilled to receive this book. I've been a member of the LibraryThing website for about three or four years now, and just recently discovered the Early Reviewer option. This special feature allows you to browse the books which publishers are releasing for early review, and enter a lottery to win them. Although I had won a book prior to this one, I received the envelope sans book and was sorely disappointed. It made it even more exciting to actually receive this one!!

Okay, enough excitement. Down to business.

I'm sad to say that I was rather disappointed to complete this book. It's partly my own fault for building up these intense expectations in my head. I should have also taken the time to reacquaint myself with the summary of this book once I received the notice that I had won.

I felt the plot was not particularly unique. In addition to it being an old idea, it was not particularly well executed. The book is set in 1943, when 16-year-old Scott - who is working on a ship for the summer - accidentally overhears a secret Nazi plot. In the ensuing action, his friend Adam is kidnapped by the Nazis as leverage to keep Scott from telling anyone. Meanwhile, the Nazis have also made a connection with a French-Canadian woman, and utilize her daughter Colette as a cook and general maid. When the Nazis leave the city for the country in order to be closer to the shipping lines, they take Colette with them in order to keep an eye on Adam and continue to manage their meals. In the end, Adam escapes with Colette's help, meets Scott in the woods right outside of the Nazi hideout, and they successfully foil the Nazi's plan.

As you may have guessed from my tone, I was quite incredulous at the plot. It was completely unrealistic, even for young adult fiction. It's been one of my pet peeves for quite a while - probably since I was a young adult myself - to encounter books that condescend to readers and make things so simplistic. Although I can say that it does lend itself to the tradition of books such as The Boxcar Children or even the Nancy Drew series: kids encounter a problem, they decide not to tell adults, yet somehow the problem always manages to work itself out by the end of the book. Even if there are Nazis involved.

I did really like the cover of the book, which was shiny and metallic. So that's something in its favor.

At one point, Scott encounters an FBI agent who is undercover with the Nazis. How does Scott know he's an FBI agent? Because this man tells a 16-year-old kid that he's an undercover FBI agent. WHAT?! Absolutely not.

Towards the end of the book, when they find the bomb (taped to the top of the toilet tank in the crew washroom), the response from Adam and Scott is, "Wow! Look at that!" Of course. That is the correct response to a bomb.

All in all, I was underwhelmed. While I am grateful and thrilled to have received this book through the Early Reviewers system, perhaps I need to be more selective about the books I "bid on" in the future.