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36 of 39 people found the following review helpful
on November 8, 1999
Brings to mind the absolutely reliable adventure tales--early Melville, for instance, or Jack London. Not just a coming of age novel, it's packed with details about seafaring and old-time diving. Truly an enjoyable read.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Fair enough. It reads like a pulp action story, at times. And our hero Jack is a little to good to be true. Mighty thews and all. Brooding countenance and flashing eyes. However that doesn't make this a bad book. It makes it a pretty entertaining and action-packed book, and while Jack may be a little unbelievable, the action and story aren't unbelievable. Essentially, Jack, the 18 year old son of a gun smith, is swept off on a whirlwind adventure that takes him from the fledgling USA to Cuba to the South Pacific. In it, he encounters self-righteous Yankees, evil Cuban noblemen, bloodthirsty Pacific Islanders (savages, don't you know), bloodthirstier Dutch slavers, and British press gangs. Okay, there are a lot of cliches (and I mean a lot), but there is a lot of fun in here too. And despite the notorious and nigh-legendary phrase "the pintles were sprung from the gudgeon," there's not an overwhelming amount of sea-stuff in here. Try reading Patrick O'Brian and you'll see what I mean. This book is comparable to Wilbur Smith's "Birds of Prey." Kinda like an old Errol Flynn movie. I enjoyed this book a good bit, and would be interested in reading more from these authors.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on December 26, 2000
I fully admit to buying this book primarily because of the draw of Gene Hackman's name on this project. I have always enjoyed his acting, so I was very interested in seeing how his inaugural effort as author would come out. Without question, it was a magnificent read! Mr. Hackman, in collaboration with Mr. Lenihan, have created a modern sea classic with "Wake of the Perdido Star". They have managed to successfully mix a coming-of-age element into a more grand historical fiction epic combining the best of revenge and seafaring tales.
The plot, focused around the young Jack and his adventures aboard the Perdido Star, is extremely well-developed. In their prose, Hackman and Lenihan paint a vivid picture for the reader. They manage to tackle several subplots with gusto and pizazz without losing sight of the more central story: Jack seeking revenge for the death of his parents. Also, even though there are a few twists that force the reader to "stretch the imagination" a bit, they are written with tremendous plausibility, making them far more easy to digest.
As I alluded to, the prose allows for wonderful imagery. Some of the passages describing the Perdido Star's voyages immediately evoke comparisons to the best of - dare I say - a Herman Melville or, more recently, Patrick O'Brian. Of note is the passage describing the Star's rounding of the cape, as well as the "battle" scenes involving the Star's departure from Manila harbor and the climactic fight at Havana.
All in all, Hackman and Lenihan have hit the proverbial home run with their first effort, a feat reserved for very few authors. Fans of the aforementioned Patrick O'Brian should also love this book. For those who enjoy the "technothrillers", this is a wonderful diversion from that genre. I certainly believe it is one of the past several years, and I hope that Mr. Hackman and Mr. Lenihan will grace us with another work very soon.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on February 4, 2000
I loved Wake of the Perdido Star. The well-rounded plot and colorful characters kept me turning the pages in eager anticipation of "Black Jack's" next pirate adventure. My favorite character was Paul Le Maire, a misguided youth whose wit and sharp mouth gave me numerous laughs. I'm amazed this is Hackman and Lenihan's first collaboration together, the authors' writing style flows beautifully throughout the book. So if you're in the mood for a fun adventure and some memorable characters, check out Wake of the Perdido Star. Anyone who loves diving, tales of the sea, or simply characters such as Paul Le Maire, who "dares to be a daisy," is sure to take something from this book.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on January 11, 2000
In WAKE OF THE PERDIDO STAR I found everything I could hope for in a novel: memorable characters, a suspense-filled plot, unusual historical details-even romance. Its protagonist, "Black Jack" O'Reilly, is sure to go down as one of the great characters, as notable for his courage as he is for his satisfying character arc. At every step there is an obstacle: mutiny, shipwreck, savages, drought, pirates, oppressive governments; each chapter propels us into the next, and it is precisely this which makes WAKE so satisfying. Lesser novelists would have succumbed to stock heroes and villains, to a more linear tale of revenge, but it is WAKE'S multi-faceted characters and complex, unexpected plot twists that make this as fine a piece of literature as one could hope for. It is the type of tale Conrad or Poe would have embraced: one that favors the reader's wishes' over the writers'. To talk of judging WAKE in the context of Hackman's acting career is, of course, as irrelevant as judging LORD JIM in the context of Conrad's being a native of Poland. Anyone who has applied any amount of time to the study of literature knows a work must be evaluated on its own merit, regardless of the authors' background. In its four hundred-plus pages, WAKE is an ambitious undertaking by any novelist's standards. And it succeeds--gloriously.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on March 21, 2005
Reminiscent of Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin and Julian Stockwin's Kydd/Renzi in the pairing of the intellectual LeMaire with the man of action O'Reilly, it is also set in the same period, albeit American- rather than European-based.

We follow half-caste Jack's progression from mild-mannered teenager to ruthless pirate on a mission to eradicate slavers and avenge his parent's death and dishonour.

In a mixture of 'Swiss family Robinson' and 'Captain Blood', the Perdido Star, captained by a crazed drunkard, is wrecked on a desert island, having made heavy weather of rounding the Horn. Neighbouring islanders, salvaged materials and the ingenuity of the survivors combine to provide a comfortable semblance of home, which is rudely shattered by the appearance of a Dutch VOC ship collecting human 'cargo'. Jack is persuaded by circumstances and his friend Paul that the only way to right the wrongs of the world is to take action - and there is action aplenty in this gripping, although slightly pulpy, first novel from Hackman & Lenihan.

Well-drawn characters and an intriguing plot combine to make a story to rival the best in the genre.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on October 18, 2000
Can you recall the scene in "Frankenstein" when they raise the dead body up to the heavens so that the lightning will strike it and bring it to life? Well, that is very like this book where all the pieces are in place, everything seems okay, but the lightning never strikes! It never comes to life; you can never quite believe it. Good writers lend a kind of grace to their work and you are drawn in, seduced, involved, and you "live along with it." These authors are workmanlike, but without that grace. If I knew how to do it, I'd be writing. But I know it when I see it and this isn't it. Nothing wrong with this plot or these characters that Louis L'Amour couldn't fix. But these authors either didn't and probably can't. Still - this is a first book; maybe they'll improve.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on January 8, 2000
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. As a woman, I enjoyed getting some insight on male relationships, emotions, thought processes. As a beginning diver, I was fascinated by the diving scenes and how scuba diving began and evolved. I thought this book was not only exciting but moving and thought-provoking. I hope there's a sequel.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on July 17, 2006
After reading some other reviews,i almost didn't read the book. i'm glad i did! Don't listen to the literary snobs who find fault with every book;if you like a good story, this one has everything. Adventure, conflict, danger, complex human emotions, friendship and teamwork. i like a story that keeps me wondering what will happen next! i found this one thoroughly satisfying,and it could be a great movie.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on February 22, 2012
Excellent book full of action and adventure. The critics didn't give this book a high review so you can be sure it is enjoyable reading. Nice to find a book like this that is a pleasant surprise.
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