Monday, December 18, 2017

Polaris by Michael Northrop

My name is Henry. The crew of the Polaris mutinied, killed the captain, and then abandoned ship after setting it on fire. The ship boys and I escaped from a locked room and put the fire out. Why would the crew want to destroy the ship after fighting to gain control of it? Owen was the captain's nephew, so he's now giving orders to sail us to the United States. The other boys are willing to let him, for now, but I'm not sure how long it will last. Thacher is stirring up trouble. I haven't told you this yet, but something else has all of us frightened; we're not alone on this ship. We've been hearing eerie sounds, but we're certain something is living in the dark down below. I can now tell you that we were not prepared for what we found, and it's difficult to explain. It's Obed Macy... but it's not.

This book was not the swashbuckling story I'm used to when reading about old sailing ships. It became a "ghost" story. The author blended several different conflicts to create a creepy adventure. The inexperienced sailors needed to survive the voyage across dangerous seas, Owen's control over them was weakening, two crew members were keeping secrets, and the thing below deck terrified them all. The author left images of the creature to my imagination until he slowly let it emerge. This helped develop suspense until it confronted the boys. It could have come from a science fiction novel, and Henry's background in science caused him to look at the creature as a living organism, not necessarily a monster. The conflict between Owen and Thacher was allowed to fester, as Thacher slowly undermined Owen's authority. Owen wasn't sure how to respond, since he didn't want to lose control of the other boys. He tried to work with Thacher and gave him responsibility, but there was no way the author would allow them to resolve the problems peacefully. Overall, if you read this book as an adventure story, you won't like it. If you read it as a ghost story, you will.

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