By Its Cover: Treasure Island

treasure islandTreasure Island is the true story of that one time my uncle took me on his boat. I was about eight, maybe ten – no more than eleven. Anyway, my uncle had a boat and said I could go out on the lake with him. It was in the summer. Growing up, my family took annual vacations to one lake. The water was clear and there weren’t a lot of people around. My uncle used to pop by every couple years or so. Usually he only visited with my parents. He didn’t like kids. But about the time I turned eight or eleven, he started paying attention to me. So, one day he offered to take me out on his little wooden boat.

At the time it was super exciting. I always thought my uncle was the coolest person. He had this neat hat, smoked a pipe. He kind of looked like a pirate.  And he had a pet parrot named Squalf. Coolest of all, he was missing leg. He lost it at the ‘ol saw plant to Barry the Buzzsaw.

We went about halfway across the lake and stopped. He let me use the telescope. It was fun, ya know, for a kid. Retrospectively, it wasn’t anything all that special. My uncle was pretty drunk the whole time (though I didn’t realize it until I was a few years older). And that was it. We turned around and went back to shore. He kept asking me if I had a lass, but young me thought he was abbreviating Lassie, and I thought he was asking if I had a dog. Of course I didn’t, so I told him no. “Every man’s gotta have a lass,” he’d say, then mumble in a drunken stupor before repeating the question.

Frankly, I don’t know why Robert Louis Stevenson approached me. I don’t know why he interviewed me on this story, or why he chose to turn it into a book. I read it. It was fairly accurate (he did add an ending where I got a Rough Collie and a girl friend, which I think makes the whole thing even more confusing). That’s it though. That’s the story. It’s a boy on a boat with his uncle. For whatever reason, Stevenson found that aspect of my life interesting enough to write a full length novel about it.

I don’t have any more to say on the matter. You’d have to know my uncle (my whole family for that matter) for this story to hold any kind of significance. It’s well written, I suppose, but there’s a reason it’s only sold 12 e-books on Amazon.

Also there’s no treasure in it. Maybe there’s some hidden lesson about real treasure being in our heart or family or something. I don’t know. I skimmed it.

For stone cold accuracy regarding a thoroughly dull event, Treasure Island receives a 7 out of 10.

By Its Cover: The Princess Bride

Princess BrideIt’s the team up of the century! Finally, after years of waiting, fans get the crossover novel they’ve been longing for. William Goldman combines his two most loved series – Zorro and Pirates of The Caribbean – pairing the aforementioned Zorro with POTC’s most loved heroin, Elizabeth Swan.

After years and years of relentless nagging and dozens of websites filled with fan fiction, William Goldman has finally folded and given his fans a novel that looks at what it would be like if those two characters met. Years of speculation and arguments have been put to rest by William Goldman’s latest novel, The Princess Bride, which documents their meeting quite well.

And what do you do when two beloved protagonists such as these are paired together? Why you have them fight an army of ghosts of course! True to William Goldman’s past works, his villains are as deep and varied as his heroes. The army of ghosts aren’t simply floating blobs or white sheets. Much like people, they come in all sorts. There are big ones with mustaches, small ones with swords, ghosts on horses, ghost boats. His fleshing out (irony intended) of all the phantoms really helps bring this story to life, and gives it that extra punch that Goldman so often provides his readers. Honestly, he could very well have just phoned this one in. After all, the fans only asked for an Elizabeth Swan/Zorro team up. But rather than giving his readers a rehashing of The Avengers, he instead gave them Civil War. I’m not exaggerating when I say he went all out on this story, so far as to provide the ghosts with afterlife currency, a socioeconomic structure, class, sex, and race tension. And that’s just the bad guys. The protagonists, as has been seen in his past series for both characters, have got depth beyond even the bourgeois poltergeists.

I’m sure the question on everyone’s mind is the same, “Is there romance?” And, if you’ll pardon the spoilers, I can tell you that there is so much romance it could be turned into a movie staring Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks. The sexual tension is through the roof (er… cover). Every other line is just dripping with implication and infatuation. I mean, kiss already!

Alas! The love in this story is only between the lines, as no smooching ever comes to fruition. Instead, readers are left to watch as Zorro and Elizabeth swap innuendos and slay ghosts all without a single physical representation of what must be an undying (ghost pun) love for one another. Frustrating, certainly. Yet, this could also be a blessing, as Goldman has left room for fan fiction to explore what might have been had Zorro only made a move.

Goldman has yet to confirm or deny the possibility of a sequel, leaving hope for his fans. Will this dynamic duo return in years to come, or will this be a one hit wonder? Only time will tell.

The Princess Bride is a great book. Pick it up, read it, love it. For a near perfect crossover story, The Princess Bride receives a 7 out of 10.