16 May, 2012

The Coming of the Whirlpool

Title: The Coming of the Whirlpool
Author: Andrew McGahan
Genre: Fiction
Audience: Young Adult
Format: Book - library

From Goodreads:  It is not drowning your mother fears. What she truly dreads is that if you go to sea then you will come to the attention of the Ship Kings. And that if they discover who you are, they will kill you. Young Dow Amber is no sailor. But driven by a strange sea-longing he ventures from the high country of New Island all the way down to a grim fishing village on the shores of the bay known as the Claw. There he finds a cursed people living in dread not only of the mysterious Ship Kings that rule their country, but also of the fury of the ocean itself. When the Ship Kings sail their tall ships into the Claw, Dow's forbidden longing only grows. Who are the Ship Kings? How do they navigate the high seas? And what of the strange and fascinating girl who lives aboard one of their ships? When the whirlpool rises, will the call of the sea lead Dow to his heart's desire or to certain death? The Coming of the Whirlpool is the first book in Andrew McGahan's stunning new Ship Kings series.
What I thought: This is the fourth book from the The Children's Book Council of Australia Older Reader's Short list. 
OK, when I reviewed The Dead I Know, I said if you only read one book off the list, that should be it. Well, you're going to have to read two! If I had to chose between The Dead I Know and The Coming of the Whirlpool, I would have a hard time - for completely different reasons.
The Coming of the Whirlpool is brilliantly written. The story is engaging and the characters are ones you will find yourself truly caring about. As I read, there was something about the writing that I just couldn't put my finger on. At the end of the book, in the author bio, was the answer. While The Coming of the Whirlpool is not McGahan's first book, it is his first for young adults and he has managed that rare thing of his writing having an adult feel while aimed at young adults. I'm not sure I explained that well! I often find YA authors lack a certain maturity to their writing - almost condescending, or trying to be cool and fit in, but not quite making it. McGahan's writing had the feeling of an adult who had mastered the art of talking to young adult's as equals, while still acknowledging their lack of life experience. I would love to read some of his adult stuff to see if it measures up to what I now expect! I look forward to the sequel to The Coming of the Whirlpool.

Challenges: Aussie Author Challenge