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.