Walk the Plank – a Muster of Mini-Reviews of 4 Novels

Ahoy there me mateys!  I have read more books this year then there are days left to review them individually.  So today I bring ye a muster of mini-reviews of books that must walk the plank!  Books walk the plank when I finish them but do not like them.  What be a muster?

Well the Oxford English Dictionary defines it as:

  1. assemble (troops) especially for inspection or for battle;
  2. collect or assemble (a number or amount); or
  3. a group of peacocks.

I didn’t like these enough to want to give full reviews because I be running out of time.  But me rule is that I have to review every book I read.

Side note: the book covers come from Goodreads and ye can click on them to add the books to yer Goodreads’ Ports for Plunder List.  Read at yer own peril!

the north water (Ian McGuire)

This be a historical fiction set in 1859 on a whaling ship bound for the Arctic Circle.  The catch is that be a killer on board.  This was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2016.  It is well-written and atmospheric and yet I didn’t like it.  The character of Drax is written to be reprehensible.  The author succeeds.  However there is rape of a young boy in this book and graphic descriptions of what happened to him told through examination of his corpse.  It just didn’t sit with me well at all.  I didn’t want that stuff in me noggin.  I am not sure why this bothered me more then say the alienist did.  But I did not enjoy this one.  The ending in particular irked me.  But it has a 4.00 rating on Goodreads so I seem to be in the minority for this one.  It walks the plank.  Arrrr!

It is not a sin, he tells himself, there is no sin left now, there is only the blood and the water and the ice; there is only life and death and the gray-green spaces in between. He will not die, he tells himself, not now, not ever. When he is thirsty, he will drink his own blood; when he is hungry, he will eat his own flesh. He will grow enormous from the feasting, he will expand to fill the empty sky.
― Ian McGuire, The North Water

we are the ants (Shaun David Hutchinson)

The science fiction element described in the blurb is what led me to read this one.  I finished it because I wanted an answer to the posited question.  However, the science fiction was a red herring.  That made me angry.  The ending was a complete cop-out.  I wanted a YA sci-fi.  Instead I got an angsty contemporary with a fake veneer of science fiction.  Then ye add in the problematic elements.  A kid trying to take care of his mother when she should be a parent.  A brother who beats the crap out of the main character and that is considered just what brothers do.  A protagonist who has to have a significant other in order to feel complete.  Bullying that is inexcusable.  The triggers for this one (taken from matey Melanie’s review) are: “attempted rape, sexual assault, outing, suicide, a lot of physical abuse, extreme bullying, homophobia, homophobic slurs, drug addiction, alcoholism, grief, depression, abandonment, loss of a loved one, talk of self-harm/cutting, and having a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease.”  Now to be fair, Melanie’s review gives this one four stars and explains why very eloquently.  This book just didn’t work for me on any level.  It walks the plank!

We may not get to choose how we die, but we can choose how we live. The universe may forget us, but it doesn’t matter. Because we are the ants, and we’ll keep marching on.
― Shaun David Hutchinson, We Are the Ants

the meg (Steve Alten) WITH BIG SPOILERS

I listened to this one on audiobook and knew it would be cheesy.  I mean it’s about a giant megalodon (a 34 – 59 ft. shark) that has survived in the Marina Trench and gets out and starts eating people.  But I enjoyed Jaws and so thought I would give this one a whirl.  The first chapter with an epic battle between a shark and a dinosaur set the tone.  But the believability just got worse and worse.  The protagonist, Jonas, was a Marty Stu.  He gets the young hot girl at the end.  The stuff about the meg was repetitive and got boring.  There was a period in the middle where nothing happens.  Then there is a fake ending.  And the actual ending was so laughable that it just cemented this as a horrible book.  SPOILER – The shark eats the submarine.  Jonas gets out of the submarine, cuts through the stomach, manages to climb into the heart, stabs the meg in the heart to make it die, climbs back in the submarine, and somehow rides it out of the mouth of the dying shark.  Oh and ends up in the arms of hot young student who magically happens to find him in the big, wide ocean to live happily ever after with him.  This was the revised and expanded edition where the author has both a foreward and an afterward where he talks about how this book is based in science.  This book was purchased by school science departments for the realism according to the author.  I hope not.  I hear the movie sucks too.  So this one walks the plank and I hope all copies get eaten by giant hungry sharks!  It does make me laugh thinking about it so there is that.

The female heard every sound, registered every movement, tasted every trail, and saw every sight, for Carcharodon megalodon does not just move through the sea, the sea moves through the Megalodon.
― Steve Alten, Meg

the buried giant (Kazuo Ishiguro)

I believe this was on a list because of being a fantasy with a dragon.  I listened to this one on audiobook.  This is set some 1500 years ago with war going on between the Britons and Saxons.  It follows an elderly couple, Axl and Beatrice, who are off to find their son’s village.  The problem – they have lost most of their memories.  In fact, most of their countrymen have no real memories either.  This is just overall an odd book.  The writing is haunting and beautiful.  I sort of enjoyed listening to it.  It kinda lulled me into a stupor.  Sir Gawain of the Arthurian legend is a main character who becomes central to the events of the story.  I loved both Axl and Beatrice.  I loved the warrior Winstan.  But the book felt like being in a fog where the events of the story never pose excitement but instead seem like a dream.  When I heard the ending and woke up from me reverie, I was just confused.  Maybe this be the point of the book.  I am not sure.  I just know that me overall feeling was one of discontent.  For those who want a master storyteller’s view on this book, read Neil Gaiman’s review of it.  For me it walks the plank.

But then again I wonder if what we feel in our hearts today isn’t like these raindrops still falling on us from the soaked leaves above, even though the sky itself long stopped raining. I’m wondering if without our memories, there’s nothing for it but for our love to fade and die.”
― Kazuo Ishiguro, The Buried Giant

So there ye have it.  Four books that walk the plank never to be seen on me ship again.  Arrrr!!

23 thoughts on “Walk the Plank – a Muster of Mini-Reviews of 4 Novels

  1. Looking at North Water: Have you read The Terror by Dan Simmons? I haven‘t yet, Simmons is hit and miss so far. However, I really liked the TV adaptation. Jared Harris, I love watching him…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t watch many movies or tv so it be unlikely that I would watch these movies in particular. The Terror has been on me list for a while now. I have never read a book by him though carrion comfort is also on me list.
      x The Captain

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hahahaha!! I’m dying at the ending of Meg!! It does sound horrible, but it’s horrible in a way I would totally read/watch. Actually, I think I would have preferred that ending to the movie ending. I know. I’m strange that way.

    I did actually start Meg once during an awful reading slump, and the Marty Stu comment is totally accurate.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow. That is QUITE a muster of walk-the-plank reviews! Yikes. As you know, I completely agree about The Buried Giant. Reading your review, however, I think that *is* the point. We’re in the same fog as Axl and Beatrice, experiencing it with them. I give Ishiguro credit — he nailed the atmosphere in this book. But, well, the overall experience is weird.

    OH MAN. That spoiler for Meg! XD XD XD I’m dying. How? I mean… what? And why is the book called Meg?


  4. I saw that I was tagged in “walking the plank” and I had a frighten, Captain! Hahahaha! But thank you for the shout out, love! Amazing minis! And I hope you’re having happy reading and happy holidays! 💖xx

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Great summaries of these four books, Cap!

    I found your comments regarding The Buried Giant especially interesting. I gave it 8/10 – but for all that, I had serious issues with it. I thought the premise stunning and, like you, thought the writing was beautiful. But I was very fed up with the denouement and ending. If you use a fantasy genre, then you need to be mindful of the conventions – and I felt that the literary-type conclusion short-changed readers who would be most likely to pick up this book, which had the potential to be wonderful. And wasn’t…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The buried giant is funny. I loved the readin’ experience and sensations of readin’ but not the book itself. So very odd. I haven’t decided if I will try never let me go yet. Mehaps. Thanks for the lovely comment. I will have to look up yer review.
      x The Captain

      Liked by 1 person

    1. It does have some very lovely writing and the story was gripping. It just wasn’t for me. It pushed all the wrong buttons. As I said, I be in the minority with it. If ye read it, I hope ye love it. Thanks for the comment.
      x The Captain


      1. I’ll just need to be aware of the triggers and read the book when – and if – they hopefully won’t impact me as much. Thanks for bringing those to my attention; I hadn’t heard them referenced before.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Ye be quite welcome matey. if I had read the trigger list before actually reading the book, I likely would have skipped this one. Triggers don’t make me emotionally unhappy but sometimes let me know that the tone of the book won’t be for me. The only subject matter that I no longer want to really read about is rape. Though occasionally there will be some in grimdark books that I read due to the nature of the genre. So there is that.
        x The Captain


    1. Well I have 3 more written and likely two or three more coming by the end of the year. So enjoy them! I will certainly enjoy when I be all caught up. I have to admit that I enjoy readin’ mini-reviews mself. Thanks for the comment. Arrr!
      x The Captain

      Liked by 1 person

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