4 out of 4 stars
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Charlie Sheldon’s Adrift is a tale of danger and desperation in the icy winter waters of the far north. The cargo ship, Seattle Express, catches fire, forcing the crew to abandon ship for two lifeboats in raging waters. The Coast Guard does its best, but the weather conditions make a thorough search impossible. The company that owns the ship sends tugboats to bring the ship to shore and to rescue anyone that may still be on board. At the same time, salvage company owners Larry and Louise race their old tug Warhorse to beat them to it. Whoever arrives first at an abandoned ship gets to claim it, and the salvage company is desperate for work. The tugboat crews have to fight hard in the rough seas and everyone wonders how anyone in a lifeboat will survive.
The intensity caught me right up at the beginning of this story. An enormous cargo ship being tossed around so severely in the wild, stormy seas made it terrifying to imagine being in a small lifeboat! The author was quite graphic about the conditions, seasickness and all. It was pretty disgusting but so very realistic.
The characters’ motivations and interactions were superbly described—it was easy to be ‘in their heads’ and understand why they did what they did. Each chapter was titled with one of the main character’s names, allowing the reader to follow the events of each group. We spend time on the ship, in each lifeboat, and on the tugboat with Louise, Larry, and their crew, as well as with a couple of important on-shore characters. I enjoyed finding out about salvaging abandoned ships. I don’t like how it works, but I did like learning about it.
I was appalled that the salvage crews seemed more concerned about reaching the ship to stake their claim for the money than they were about the people lost in such horrifying conditions. They were concerned – they kept in contact for news and watched for signs of the lifeboats – but the money was definitely their priority.
This is the second book with these characters. The story can stand alone, but the many references to the previous book means reading them in order would make for a better experience. I still give this 4 out of 4 stars. There were a couple of commas where there should have been a period, but no disturbing errors. The characters were distinct and realistic, the emotions and situations intense. It did drag for me at times due to the detailed descriptions of the ships and the actions required to maneuver them, but it’s an ocean tale. Without those details, it would be missing a very important part of the story. It may be too much for someone who knows absolutely nothing about the sea and doesn’t care to. If you like the ocean, cutthroat competition, and survival stories, though, this is the tale for you!
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