4 out of 4 stars
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Agony and suspense are two words that best describe the scenes in over fifty chapters of the novel Adrift by Charlie Sheldon. The book is a fictional account about a freighter that is disabled by a mysterious fire and the excruciating events that happen afterward. It’s a story about man versus nature that features several determined seafaring men and women who push the limits of endurance of both body and mind to dangerous limits, just to put in an honest day of work. The excitement begins with the first sentence and continues with a solid set of stories that alternate through the book, then conclude with a brilliantly realistic last chapter.
The first chapter titled “Steve” gives a stunning view through the eyes of the Captain of the Seattle Express of how he and the other crew members are jolted into responding to a life threatening fire. The story continues with tense conversations of few words that are often sea voyage terms. The detailed descriptions of resources such as the technology used to suppress the fire, methods used to avoid the smoke and the articles of protective clothing, brought a higher level of urgency to the story. The drama reaches a whole new level when the Captain activates a beacon signal to alert the Canadian Coast Guard and tells the crew members to gather their necessary personal items. They then face violent ocean waves while making a daring exit from the freighter by boarding two lifeboats in the Gulf of Alaska during a time of year when there are extreme temperatures and limited daylight.
The Seattle Express is left derelict. The plot then separates into five additional stories that are all first-hand accounts of persons who use different routes to race to various areas of the northern Pacific Ocean. They all have something to gain if they help to solve the crisis of the disabled Seattle Express, along with the missing crew. I think that it is helpful for each chapter to be named after the main character and narrator. It’s as though Steve, Louise, Travis, Pete and Myra are telling their side of the story. Steve is an aging Captain who makes sacrifices to save his ship, crew and son while risking his career with Buckhorn Corporation. Louise is a disgruntled wife who plays a major role in the tugboat voyage to claim the Seattle Express, only to have to face her husband, Larry’s tragic accident. Travis risks his health to work with Larry and Louise on their tugboat, Warhorse. Pete works as a security guard for Buckhorn Corporation while recovering from a knee injury. Myra’s struggle to be an active member of the Haida Gwaii tribe while searching for her missing father William, is suspenseful.
The first paragraph of the novel is exciting and the unforgettable drama continues in the following chapters. Based on the impressive cover, the remarkable map and the extraordinary first chapter, I thought this book deserved a rating of at least 3 out of 4 stars. I continued reading to find out the fate of the Seattle Express or the missing crew members and noticed that both the major and minor characters have unique personalities, everyday conversations and human flaws. I noticed only two minor grammatical errors. I liked that the chapters were often less than ten pages, providing the option of a family friendly reading pace. I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. That rating is for excellent editing while using the book cover, the map and the continuing written chapters to provide each reader with a captivating story.
Adrift is a classic maritime adventure tale. I had no dislikes about the book. While there’s lots of suspense and drama, there is minimal offensive language, mature sexual themes or graphic violence. The extent of shocking events is often left to the reader’s imagination or concern. I would recommend this book to an audience aged young adult and older. The novel has the themes of seafaring adventure and personal challenges that are similar the book Blue Water Walkabout, by Tina Dreffin. Readers who enjoy books about sailing, high seas adventure or that contain sea voyage terminology will like this book. Adrift is considered the second story of the Strong Heart series and I hope that writes a third story for the series. Charlie Sheldon has also written the novel Fat Chance. I would definitely recommend this book to readers who enjoyed the novel Strong Heart.
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