The story of Emmy Award–winning filmmaker Theobald’s adventures through the Northwest Passage, a sea route well known as a “ship killer.”
The author’s journey was fraught with potentially deadly icebergs, polar bears and other dangerous elements, but his brief retelling of the experience buries most of the quest’s unique moments in an avalanche of dead-end detours. However, there are moments worth remembering; the best scenes are those in which he ceases telling about how much the trip means to his family (“Dominique’s words of wonder and amazement over the growing connections with her brothers overrode the pressures and concerns of what we all were attempting to do”) and simply shows what happens. Accounts of the boat’s near misses with ice and run-ins with animals are mostly well-narrated and will hold readers’ attention, but irrelevant details bloat the book. As Theobald describes his worries about the tremendous financial burdens of the trip, he switches gears to describe minutiae such as the layers of dust on the air conditioner in a doctor’s office, where his injured toe makes the first of its many appearances. Once the journey is underway, blow-by-blow dialogue of squabbles among the crew combines with over-the-top monologues of frustration. Unfortunately, co-author Kreda (Tales from the Montreal Canadiens Locker Room, 2012, etc.) does not stop Theobald from cramming the book with unmet promises. Though he writes of spending a day alone, “deep soul-searching,” very little of this introspection makes it to the page.
Eventually, a truly suspenseful scene occurs off the Pacific coast, but many readers will have bailed out before this payoff.