Monday, March 17, 2014

Book Review: Pirate Latitudes by Michael Crichton

Title: Pirate Latitudes
Author: Michael Crichton
Published: 2009, Harper Collins

Partial Synopsis: Jamaica in 1665 is a rough outpost of the English crown, a minor colony holding out against the vast supremacy of the Spanish empire. Port Royal, Jamaica′s capital, a cut-throat town of taverns, grog shops, and bawdy houses, is devoid of London′s luxuries; life here can end swiftly with dysentery or a dagger in your back. But for Captain Edward Hunter it is a life that can also lead to riches, if he abides by the island′s code. In the name of His Majesty King Charles II of England, gold in Spanish hands is gold for the taking. And law in the New World is made by those who take it into their hands.

I wish I had enjoyed this book more than I did, I really do. It definitely had its moments. 

As far as the plot goes there was so much promise. The story of Caribbean pirates on a mission to highjack a ship full of treasure should be thrilling. There were definitely some interesting moments. Exciting battle scenes (pirate gun battles are always thrilling), daring escapes, and an arguably murderous rampage for revenge. But the central plot seemed to fall a little flat. This book was a surprisingly quick read and even when it tried to get mysterious couldn't capture my interest for very long. It is without a doubt historical fiction but feels more historical then fictional and while I am usually onboard (pun intended) for those kinds of stories but in this case I was hoping for a little more fictionalization and thrilling action.

As far as the characters go it was much of the same. There were some interesting and intriguing characters. I actually really liked the villains in this book. They were dark, mysterious, and devious. I found myself wanting them to succeed more than the heroes. I was not very invested in the story of the main character Captain Hunter. What I expect in a pirate story is a roguish anti-hero with an arguably dubious moral code sailing the seven seas looting and pillaging for personal gain. What we got here was a privateer who is fighting a more political battle. It felt more like the realistic sailors of the time and less like the fictional pirates that we're used to seeing in literature.  The other disappointing this was that the characters that were the most  interesting and engaging didn't last very long in the story. 

There were some good things about the book, however. The pacing was good and everything built to a slightly more trilling conclusion.  And the best part was probably the world-building. The pirates travelled around their little corner of the Caribbean to interesting and real locales from the period, even encountering an island of natives at one point. It felt well-researched as far as the history goes and I felt like I understood and could easily become immersed in this world of exploration and adventure. The interesting world and the hope for further excitement is what kept me reading to the conclusion. It's just a shame when everything was all said and done my only thought was "I'm glad that's over."

I will however cut Michael Crichton a little slack when it comes to this book. A draft of this book was found on his laptop after Crichton died and the book was published posthumously. It really does feel incomplete. First he created this world and then he was going to flush out the characters and the plot.

I give Pirate Latitudes by Michael Crichton a 6 out of 10

 I wouldn't necessarily recommend this book to anyone. If you're looking for a Michael Crichton book read Jurassic Park, Congo, or The Andromeda Strain. If you're looking to read a quick book about life in the Caribbean during the time of piracy and privateering then by all means check this book out.

Have you read Pirate Latitudes? What were your thoughts? Leave me a comment. Thanks for stopping by and as always HAPPY READING!

1 comment:

  1. I had been interested in reading this book a while back, but when I discovered that it was an unfinished book, I decided not to read it. I figured that I would be disappointed.