JACK BLACK AND THE SHIP OF THIEVES by Carol Hughes

JACK BLACK AND THE SHIP OF THIEVES

Age Range: 11 - 13

KIRKUS REVIEW

With an airy disregard for internal logic or realistic detail, Hughes (Toots and the Upside-Down House, not reviewed) flogs an array of colorful characters and situations into a patched-together, whirlwind adventure featuring giant air- and ocean-going ships, dashing aeronauts of both sexes, an exploding island, treachery, (weak) comic relief, and a doughty lad at the center of it all. Scarcely has the first voyage of the great dirigible Bellerophon begun before young Jack catches wind of a bomb plot, then falls from a hatch toward the distant Polar Sea before he can unmask the conspirators. Fortunately, he lands safely in the sails of a passing ship. Unfortunately, the ship is bombarded by the Nemesis, a fully automated rogue battleship. But, for some reason a well-timed electrical storm forces the Nemesis to withdraw . . . and so it goes, at a headlong clip, to the climactic, violent destruction of the robot ship, and the rescue of the crashed Bellerophon’s crew. As the author repeatedly gets Jack into a pickle, then trots out some wild coincidence or arbitrary device to extract him, any suspense or sense of danger is but momentary, and unlike Jack, readers will figure out who the villains are without much trouble. With all the huge machines and intrepid deeds, there are hints of grandeur here, along with surprisingly little explicit violence (the lesser of the two bad guys is boiled alive: the major one just ends up in jail, which seems unfair). But there’s little of the imaginative flair that characterizes the novels this models: the science fantasies of Jules Verne and Philip Pullman. (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-375-80472-2
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: Random House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 2000




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