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Wake of the Perdido Star Hardcover – September 30, 1999

4.0 out of 5 stars 51 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Actor Hackman and undersea archeologist Lenihan team up for this joint debut, a conventional but intriguing coming-of-age adventure full of information about early-19th-century diving, salvage and piracy. Young Jack O'Reilly begins the novel as a passenger on the Perdido Star, leaving bigoted New England with his Catholic parents to seek a new life in Cuba, his mother's homeland. Soon after their arrival, the senior O'Reillys are killed at the behest of a wealthy Cuban landowner. Escaping his own death by returning to the Star, O'Reilly takes to the sea as a lowly deckhand, becoming a valued member of the colorful crew. "An angry young man who despises injustice," he is bitter, short-tempered and determined to avenge his parents. On its way from the Caribbean to the South Pacific, the Star encounters a predictable host of nautical obstacles: violent storms, pirates and shipwreckAand also friendly natives who help patch the ship together. Jack matures over the course of the journey, mainly through the tough love of the ship's captain, Quince, and the bravery of another young deckhand, aristocratic Paul Le Maire. Though he becomes known as "Black Jack" O'Reilly, the reputed "scourge of the western Pacific," by the end he's been transformed from a hot-headed teen to a respected sailor, willing to use his brain before resorting to his fists. Despite a formulaic plot and predictable characters, the authors do a fine job of blending historical and technical details into their narrative. Of particular interest are sectionsAincluding a well-constructed, exciting endingAin which the crew of the Star must learn how to accomplish tasks modern sailors take for granted: how to stay under water for more than a few minutes without drowning and how to refloat a sunken ship. Major ad/promo; Literary Guild featured alternate. (Nov.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

YA-Forced from their home in New England in the early 1800s, Jack O'Reilly, 17, and his parents board the Perdido Star to Cuba, where Jack's mother plans to claim the land left to her by her family. De Silva, the guardian left in trust of the land, makes sure that she and her husband are murdered. Jack barely escapes and seeks refuge aboard ship with his new friends, Paul Le Maire and the first mate, Quince. Although Jack mourns his parents, adventures on the ship quickly turn his focus to sea storms, shipwrecks, diving for salvage, and the dark intrigues of opium smuggling. Jack and his friends survive through their physical strength, courage, and wits, ultimately deciding to unite as a brotherhood of pirates pledged to help Jack avenge his parents' deaths. With almost nonstop action, the characters struggle to survive or deal with dastardly villains. Secondary characters take on distinct personalities and quirky behaviors befitting the crew of a sailing ship of 1805. Any empathy or emotional bonding that might have occurred between the major characters and readers just doesn't happen. This doesn't affect the appeal of the story, for the action sweeps readers up like a strong tide. The hot sun of the South Pacific comes across as vividly as the moist, humid, bug-infested jungle areas. This sense of place and time helps set the stage for the impending action, making it seem all the more real. For teens who enjoy the sea, adventure, or survival stories, this novel will provide all of these and more.
Pam Johnson, Fairfax County Public Library, VA
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: WilliamMr; 1st edition (September 30, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1557043981
  • ISBN-13: 978-1557043986
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.5 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,463,190 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on November 8, 1999
Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Mass Market Paperback
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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Format: Mass Market Paperback
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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Format: Audio Cassette
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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By A Customer on January 11, 2000
Format: Hardcover
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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