Quick Hit: Michael Crichton’s posthumous novel is a bit of a letdown from his legacy.
Michael Crichton, he of the Jurassic Park fame, had a penchant for taking science and shoving it into novels in a way that was both exciting and educational. There may be some shortcuts made in his most famous books, (Timeline is my favorite of his, which combines history and science) but most are generally well written, with well-rounded characters and fun plots. Pirate Latitudes, the second of two manuscripts discovered and published after the author’s death, is a bit of a mess. It’s a quick read, and not very complicated, but its issues are really too great to ignore.
It concerns a fictional account of a real historical occurrence where a British privateering ship attacked a Spanish fortification from Port Royal in Jamaica. This was just a semantics difference from piracy, something that a book called Pirate Latitudes really wants to explain to you.
Honestly, that may have been one of the biggest problems in this book. About half of the book is really exciting, particularly for someone like me that enjoys sailing and learning about the historical aspects of maritime warfare. But a lot of the copious amounts of explanation start to drag on the book after a couple hundred pages. Especially because at times it is at the expense of characterization. Hunter is a really fun character – indeed, all of the characters are fun, and most of them have fun names, like Whisper (due to a cut throat) and The Jew. It’s a good bit of writing, even if it’s a bit cliché.
What isn’t a good bit of writing is the fact that some characters that seem to be written to be important, like Anne Sharpe, and Emily Hacklett pretty much disappear amongst all the male characters. Even Lazue, who’s a woman pretending to be a man (like in Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flags!) seems to fall by the wayside unless she’s taking off her tunic. It’s pretty unfortunate, but it’s actually not the worst part of the book.
*************Spoilers here for pretty much the whole book***************************
The worst part of the book is how many plot hindrance are thrown in the characters way that are overcome in seemingly only a few paragraphs. The characters face, and I’m not exaggerating – all in a 300ish page book – being captured by the enemy, being captured in a storm, being captured by a hurricane, being nearly overran and captured by another enemy, captured by someone else in a “twist”. AND A KRAKEN. That’s an insane amount of obstacles, but never fear – there’s only a few of them that actually stick around past a few pages.
So, Pirate Latitudes is worth a read if