Saturday, April 17, 2010

Girl on Book Action: Vampirates: Demons of the Ocean by Justin Somper

Vampirates: Demons of the Ocean by Justin Somper
ISBN: 978-0-316-01373-4


Twins Connor and Grace never dreamed that there was any truth to the Vampirates shanty their father sang to them before he died, but that was before the two were shipwrecked and separated from each other. For Connor, who is taken aboard a pirate ship, there’s the chance to learn to sword fight, but for Grace, aboard a mysterious ship of vampires, the danger is great.

The lure of the pirate life at sea may be just tempting enough to make Connor forget his past, but without him, Grace will not be able to survive.

If you’re ready for an adventure that will take you into the future, aboard a pirate ship and a ship of vampires, join Connor and Grace in an unforgettable race against time and the elements.


My Thoughts:

Where do I begin? I guess at the beginning, where I tell you about how I came to purchase and subsequently read this book. My lovely cohort and I were meandering around a mall, disappointed with the lack of awesome things to buy and we decided we deserved a break so we went to the bookstore. While picking our way through the bargain section, we spotted Vampirates and for the low price of $6 I just couldn’t say no.

I wasn’t really expecting a lot aside from the story being ridiculous and it was fairly ridiculous, but it was also problematic. I know it’s a children’s / YA book, but that doesn’t mean that important details of time and place should be ignored. The book is set in the future (2505), but the pirate ships are you know, the kind we expect from the 17th and 18th centuries. This disparity is never explained. There are also repeated references to the ocean rising at some point, but that isn’t really addressed in the book either. Another major complaint for me is that, while this is a book meant for younger audiences, I think the fact that the pirates make a point of not killing anyone when they plunder and pillage and the vampires are also “nice” vampires that don’t kill people is lame. I think Vampirates should at least be a little scary. They also didn’t really seem like pirates since from what I saw in this first installment they mostly just hid and didn’t plunder and pillage. Everyone was just too nice. There was less killing in this book than in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies.

I think the absolute best part of the whole novel is the Vampirate Shanty. Various lines and snippets from this Shanty show up in nearly every chapter. Let me share with you my favourite stanza:

“The Vampirate ship has tattered sails,
That flap like wings in flight.
They say the captain, he wears a veil
So as to curtail your fright
At his death-pale skin
And his lifeless eyes
And his teeth as sharp as night.
Oh, they say that the captain, he wears a veil
And his eyes never see the light.”
(Somper, pg. 8)

Pretty awesome, don’t you think? That had us laughing pretty hard, especially the veil part. Really, with a shanty like that how could anyone not want to read this book? Another selling point is that it’s a children’s book, so it takes about 2 hours to read it. So if you see it in a bargain bin somewhere I would recommend it, mostly for the novelty of the title and the shanty. If I had children, I think I would buy this for them and let them read it – but I would probably accompany their reading with discussions on the true nature of vampires and issues regarding the unexplained anachronisms (yes, I would likely be a terribly boring mother ruining all of their childhood fun).

So the overall verdict: worth the $6 due to amount of laughter induced. And I may read the other 4 or 5 books in the series if I see them for a reasonable price in the future. Also, not a bad bet if you have children.

Postscript: And here are your poll results. I'll be reading Portrait of a Lady by Henry James (3 votes), both of the other choices held their own with 2 votes each. Thank you to everyone who voted.

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