Thursday, October 17, 2013

Middle Grade Titanic Adventure a Little Dry

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

When a worker's ticket for R.M.S. Titanic falls into the hands of young Patrick Waters, the dishwasher seizes the opportunity to board the magnificent ship.  If only he can pass himself off as much older than his 12 years, he can join Titanic's "Black Gang," like his older brother James.  Although he manages to pull off the charade, it's soon clear that Patrick's too delicate to labor in the oppressive heat of the boiler rooms.  Instead, he trains to be a waiter.  As he serves passengers under the direction of the exacting Mr. Webb, he makes a shocking discovery—strange things are afoot on the luxury liner.   

John Francis Berryman, a book lover and thief, is also on board under false pretenses.  He's keeping a close eye on Harry Elkins Widener, a wealthy rare book collector.  The First Class passenger has something Berryman would kill to get his hands on, a treasure that could make him (and his boss) rich beyond his wildest dreams.  The only trouble is finding it.  Berryman can't exactly stroll into Widener's stateroom, especially now that the meddling Patrick Waters has become Widener's personal attendant.  The thief can't risk blowing his cover, but he must get the treasure he seeks.  How can he complete the task, especially when it becomes readily apparent that the R.M.S. Titanic is sinking?  It's time to risk it all for the treasure Berryman wants more than anything else in the world.  So what if it requires the elimination of a young Irish waiter? 

Dangerous Waters, a new middle grade novel by Gregory Mone, offers a quick, rollicking adventure that will tickle the fancy of both Titanic enthusiasts and mystery lovers.  The story's a little dry (*groan*), especially for its intended audience, but it's still entertaining.  Bibliophiles will be especially interested in the large role books play in the plot, leading to gems like this one:
Inside, he breathed in the musty, aged smell of thousands of books.  That book dust was fresh sea air to him.  So much weathered leather, so many brittle yellowing pages.  All that hardened cloth and browned book-binding glue.  He found it completely invigorating (3). 
So, yeah, young readers might find that Dangerous Waters drags too much for their tastes.  I'd still recommend it, however, as it's a fun adventure story that explores the fate of a real treasure that disappeared along with many others when Titanic sunk into the sea.  

(Readalikes:  Reminded me of Distant Waves by Suzanne Weyn and Gordon Korman's Titanic series (Unsinkable; Collision Course; S.O.S.)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for violence and intense situations

To the FTC, with love:  I borrowed a copy of Dangerous Waters from my kids' elementary school library as part of my volunteer work with the school's reading program.  

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