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Friday, November 04, 2011

Exciting Yukon Adventure Story Stars Jack London Himself

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Jack London didn't just write adventure stories, he lived them. By turns an oyster pirate, a hobo, a Klondike gold prospector, and a sailor, London experienced life in all kinds of climes with all kinds of people. His travels gave him much to write about, which he did in classics like Call of the Wild and White Fang. But what if there were some adventures London couldn't write about, incidents too frightening, too unbelievable, too supernatural to share? Fantasy writers Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon imagine just such a thing in their new YA series, The Secret Journeys of Jack London. Part survival story, part paranormal thriller, the series promises to take readers on a fast-paced, exciting ride, the kind Jack London himself would no doubt enjoy.

The first installment, The Wild, begins with 17-year-old Jack heading to the Yukon to look for gold. Thrilled by the prospect of getting rich as well as the challenge of pitting himself against the extreme Alaskan weather, Jack's ready for the adventure. Even when his brother-in-law, an older man with a bad heart, turns back, he continues undaunted. Despite his vow to trust no one, Jack hooks up with two newbie prospectors, who soon become his best friends. The trio make an unlikely group - Merritt Sloper's a 25-year-old stonemason, Jim Goodman's a 22-year-old schoolteacher, and Jack's a young scrapper with a hot temper - but they're still alive. Which is more than they can say for a lot of their comrades.

Jack attributes the group's success to blind luck and grim determination, but when he's rescued from a desperate situation by an animal straight out of a fairy tale, he's forced to admit that he's got some otherworldly support. A good thing, since not all of the enemies he's battling out in the wild are human. He's seen the evil men embrace out in the lawless north and he's seen ... other things. The only question that remains is: Will he make it out of the Yukon alive?

I don't read a lot of Man vs. Nature type books, so I wasn't sure this one would strike my fancy, but guess what? It totally did. Not only is the book well-written, but it's surprising and engrossing, even funny in parts. Vivid illustrations by Greg Ruth add even more suspense to the tale. I liked The Wild so much more than I thought I would. And I'm a 30 (ish) woman - I imagine teenage boys would find the story especially compelling. The Sea Wolves, the next installment in the series, comes out in February and I can hardly wait. So inspired am I that I might even re-read Call of the Wild. How's that for enthusiasm? Well, what can I say? Judging from the first book, this series deserves it.

(Readalikes: It's been a long time since I read Call of the Wild or White Fang, but I assume both have some similarities to this story.)

Grade: B

If this were a movie, it would be rated: PG-13 for language (no F-bombs), violence and mild sexual innuendo

To the FTC, with love: I received an ARC of The Wild from the generous folks at HarperTeen. Thank you!

1 comment:

  1. I put this one on my "to buy" for my middle school library. I have boys that are always looking for books like this (Hatchet lovers.) Thanks!


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