Thursday 29 November 2007

Castaways of the Flying Dutchman

This YA book is the second of my books for the Seafaring Challenge I'm participating in. It's Castaways of the Flying Dutchman by Brian Jacques.

Brian Jacques is the fairly well known author of the Redwall series of books for children. I thought 'Castaways' was a stand alone but checking Amazon I see there are a couple of others so it would seem to be a newish series. Anyway, I have read the first Redwall book and found it to be *okay*, nothing more. Truthfully, the same things which irritated me about that book, irritated me about this one.

The story concerns a young boy who, running away from an abusive family in Denmark, in 1620, finds himself aboard The Flying Dutchman. There follows a fifty page account of his time on the ship, abused by one and all, but managing to make his way as the ship's cook. Before long the ship is wrecked off the coast of Tierra del Fuego and something happens to the boy and his dog. He then spends a period of time with a shepherd before moving on. Next thing you know it's England, 1896, and the boy, Ben, and his dog, Ned, wash up in a small village that's being threatened by a tyrant who plans to raze the village to the ground and build a huge cement works. It's their job to do something about this, aided and abetted by various new friends.

I keep having to remind myself that Jacques writes for children, not adults, so I probably shouldn't be too harsh. It's just that, as an adult, I can't stand his writing. Other children's authors don't annoy me the way he does, so what's the problem? Well, I find his writing insultingly simplistic and bland. Everyone is stereotypical - good or bad, kind or evil, nothing in between. Plus, people simply don't speak to each other the way they do in his books! And I lost count of the number of times I was informed that Ben was 'towheaded' with unruly hair. I just think children deserve better than this. That said, I believe his Redwall series is extremely popular so who am to judge? On the plus side - I did quite enjoy the seafaring bit of the book, it's just a shame that I was hoping for more and didn't get it. I really won't be reading any more books by Brian Jacques.


DesLily said...

I hate when I buy a book and then don't enjoy it! Thankfully, it's rare.

On the other hand some YA books get so complicated I wonder if kids can follow them or use words that even I don't know what they mean or how to pronounce them! When that happens it makes me wonder how it got to be YA.

Ink Mage said...

From personal experience I can tell you that some teens don't think much of Jaques' writing, either. I managed to read the entire Castaways of the Flying Dutchman series--only because I normally finish any series I begin--but could not get through more than the first Redwall book.

You're right about the dialogue! It was so corny sometimes, especially between Ned and Ben.

Cath said...

deslily: Luckily it was a library book so I haven't had to pay for the mistake. I agree it is rare... I'm generally very easy to please with books.

I only tend to read YA fantasy and haven't noticed anything too complicated. I'm sure there are other types that are harder going.

ink mage: I'm so glad it's not just me with Brian Jacques. Some of the dialogue literally set my teeth on edge. 'Corny' is the right word, 'cringeworthy' is another word for it. Yuck. I think you deserve a medal for getting through all of the Castaway books...

Anonymous said...

Personally it's my favorite book. And as a young adult, I can rightly say it. The dialogue is like that because of the time it was set. Brian Jacques is a very good author. I think its sad of you to tell people what to not to read because people clearly hang on your words. You should be a better role modle. I am extremly well read. so I know what I'm talking about. If you wanted more action, you should of read books 2 and 3 which invove longer sea chases and excitment.