Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Review: Worse Things Happen at Sea!

Worse Thing Happen at Sea!: A Tale of Pirates, Poison, and Monsters
By Alan Snow
Published 2013 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers

The residents of Ratbridge are in luck - a new doctor has arrived, promising a medicine that cures all ails. And, the best part - he's giving it away for free! But when a shortage strikes, Arthur and his friends on the Nautical Laundry must take action and set sail. However, they soon discover all is not what it seems...

This is another e-galley I found in my quest to read more tween books. When I discovered it, I recalled that it looked similar to a book I remembered from my bookstore days, Here Be Monsters!, one I kept meaning to read but never got around to. Unfortunately, it turns out that I would have enjoyed and understood this book much more had I read that title.

You see, I'm still not entirely sure if this book is a sequel or simply a companion to Snow's earlier novel but, either way, this book makes a lot less sense if you haven't read the first. That's not to say it can't be done - I did it, after all, and still found this book rather amusing. But your experience with this title will certainly be richer if you've read Here Be Monsters!. The reasons for this are fairly obvious almost as soon as you begin reading Worse Things Happen at Sea!. Snow seems to assume that all readers will be familiar with his first book because there is nothing in the way of character development or world-building/explanation in this book. I mean that - nothing. As you might imagine, this is rather jarring, and I think I was nearly finished with the book before I realized that some of the characters were actually giant talking rats who worked alongside the pirates. That being said, if you're none too worried about character development or understanding the intricacies of Ratbridge, this is a pretty rollicking and action-packed read. There is action and adventure in nearly every chapter, though some kids will surely be confused about the interstitials regarding wild cheeses and their hunting. It would have been nice to know that reading Snow's early book might enhance your enjoyment of this title and it leaves me frustrated as I'd already ordered a copy of this for the library, though we don't own the first one. Now I feel like I need to get a copy of Here Be Monsters! for the kids who want to read this one.

Thanks to the publisher for a digital advance reader's copy, provided via Edelweiss.

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