I enjoyed this genre-hopping, seafaring tale. I couldn’t work out why Unfurling the Sails needed to be set in the future, and it wasn’t until quite late in the book that I started to realize it might have been part of a series. This wasn’t an issue as such, as it does stand alone quite comfortably, and for a refreshing change also actually rounds itself up quite nicely – far too many books I read leave open endings without warning, and it’s fast becoming one of my pet hates. But this book, thankfully, doesn’t do that. I would recommend that you read earlier books in the series first, because there is what appears to be quite a significant backstory between the two main characters, which is only very loosely explained, and I did feel like I was on the back foot in this respect throughout. I mean, it’s very clear that these two characters despise each other passionately, and that it’s more than just a petty feud, so it would have been nice to really absorb this element of the book. I also found the dual narrative style Sarah opted for a little confusing at times, skipping back and forth between the first and third person, and wondered if this helped or hindered.
Another fact I’m thankful for is that there was no love interest between the two main characters – which is just as well, because Grey, the female lead, is only fourteen. It makes another refreshing change that there isn’t that whole love-hate aspect between the principals, which is so stereotypical in books, particularly the young adult genre, which this self-professes as. Put simply, this is actually a good, mature adventure story without the usual tropes. Sarah clearly knows her business when it comes to sailing, or she is a tremendous researcher. Either way, she has created a very credible fiction book, which is elevated by its authenticity. Additionally, she has also developed a genuinely impressive and endearing heroine, without the action-feminist hyperbole which accompanies many female leads in current times. Grey is naïve and young, but tough, clever and resourceful; she is scared, but her brain still functions rationally. She is a character with an intellect which is to be respected, and she quickly wins over her fellow stranded passengers with her courage and decisiveness. Later in the book, when the threat has changed to an altogether more immediate one, she knows when to let those more suited lead the way. She is a good lead character, in anyone’s book.
This was an enjoyable way to spend a couple of evenings, and I found myself pretty gripped throughout. I wish I had read earlier books, and familiarized myself with the aforementioned backstory, but I don’t think my enjoyment was significantly harmed by this. Worth a read if you like more discerning YA, without the tropes.
In : Book Reviews
Tags: sarah-branson young-adult seafaring sailing pirates futuristic