Friday, August 13, 2010

I Review a Book - Silver

What?  Book review on a webcomic review site?  Well honestly, I've been trying to work on an article about comic names since, um, March, and I can't get it to work.  So I need something else.  Plus, I like this book and I want to expose it to you.  So here you go:

Book Review: Silver by Edward Chupack

I've never read Treasure Island. Hell, the most I know about it comes from, of all things, Muppet Treasure Island. So it didn't occur to me that the book named "Silver" was related to it immediately. What attracted me was the black cover with the skull and crossbones. Then I read the tag line:

"My Own Tale, As Written by Me with a Goodly Amount of Murder."

Oh I had to buy this.

This is the purported autobiography of the quintessential pirate, Long John Silver, but if you think this is merely a retelling of the Stevenson's classic, you are very wrong.

The book starts by instantly dropping you into "Talk Like a Pirate Day: The Book." It's not as BAD as you might think, but you instantly know this is a pirate writing about pirate things. To read a book like that is so, different that it instantly hooked me.

The story is just what it says on the cover, the life of Long John Silver, how he got his name, and how he became a pirate to start, a story that began when he was like 12 or so. So yeah, Treasure Island is not going to show up for a LONG while.

What really stands out is the sheer realism of the piece. It's historical, rooting itself in history and setting of the period. While I'm not as versed in pirate matters as I could be, it does feel very real, and the impossible never seems to occur. I think the author took pains to make sure that what he wrote didn't seem to be pulled out of his ass, and set up each encounter and event as much as possible.

That said, he takes a great many liberties with the source material. The Treasure Island part of the book is most certainly NOT Stevenson's story, not by a long shot. Oh, they share characters and rough situations, but for the most part it is a completely different story, one that rolls better with the rest of Silver's story. At the same time, it is still the climax of the tale, and maintains it's importance in the grand scheme of things.

But if this were just a simple "autobiography" and retelling of Treasure Ilsand, it likely would only be just decent as a book. What makes it wonderful is that it's actually a mystery book, all built around the search for treasure. The mystery is presented as a series of clues and ciphers Silver sprinkles throughout his telling of his life.

In the end, the mystery is not WHERE the treasure is, but WHAT the treasure is. History buffs will likely catch on quick, but those like myself, likely won't. That doesn't really matter in the end, as Silver walks the reader through the clues step by step, like he's teaching it, and it turns out he is, after a fashion.

And the tag doesn't lie either, Silver kills a ton of people in this book, and speaks on murder and it's commission frequently and with loving detail. Still, none of this ever comes across as superhuman. He's smart as all hell, that's for sure, but often he doesn't seize on certain clues or acts until it's nearly too late. Once he knows, though, he plans quickly and executes just as well. The fact that he is captured at all is a mystery never really detailed beyond a certain point. He's not perfect, that's for sure, and it keeps him very human, and very interesting.

I happened across this book in the bargain section of Barnes and Noble, so if you happen to come across it, I recommend it. I suspect those who have read Treasure Island will be thrilled at the references that can be found, but fans of the original will be disappointed in the reworking of the original piece. For those of us who haven't read it, though, Silver is still damn good and enjoyable.

Next time, something to do with webcomics, I hope.

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