Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Compass South by Hope Larson and art by Rebecca Mock

Summary from Goodreads:
It’s 1860 in New York City. When 12-year-old twins Alexander and Cleopatra’s father disappears, they join the Black Hook Gang and are caught by the police pulling off a heist. They agree to reveal the identity of the gang in exchange for tickets to New Orleans. But once there, Alex is shanghaied to work on a ship that is heading for San Francisco via Cape Horn. Cleo stows away on a steamer to New Granada where she hopes to catch a train to San Francisco to find her brother. Neither Alexander nor Cleo realizes the real danger they are in — they are being followed by pirates who think they hold the key to treasure. How they outwit the pirates and find each other makes for a fast-paced, breathtaking adventure.
This is just what I needed; something light, fast-paced, and full of adventure. I’ve really gotten into graphic novels again this year. With books like this one, it’s easy to see why. The genre just keep expanding and pushing limits. And the artwork just keeps getting better.
The story kind of reads like a classic almost Charles Dickens orphan tale. There are twins with MIA parents. All they have of their parents are two items: a knife and a compass. A gang takes them in. They quickly betray the gang to save each other. Then they embark on an adventure to end all adventures. They want to get to San Francisco because of an ad in the paper from a father trying to find his twin red-headed sons. Cleopatra of course chops off her hair to disguise as a son and they want to go after the reward. The twins end up separated on two different ships, with pirates following them because apparently the compass and knife hold the key to a buried treasure. There’s sword fighting, pirates, secret codes, friendships, sailing, narrow escapes, kidnapping, and so much more.
It was hard to put the book down and I read it really fast. There was this old school vibe to the whole thing –like there were pieces of Charles Dickens and Robert Louis Stevenson. There were no fantastical elements, but it read a bit like a fantasy novel –with all the elements of a grand quest and all the high stakes sword fights one could possibly want.
The art was masterful. The illustrations really carried the plot along. I loved getting to see the sea, the ships, and the adventure through the artwork. Sometimes it was hard telling the two twins apart. I know this was intentional. But, really, it pulled me out of the story sometimes because I had to figure out who I was following.
There were some major gaps to the story about the twins’ background and how they get to be carrying the knife and compass. I had so many questions still at the end. Though, I know there’s a book 2. And by the time this posts, I’ll be long done with it, so hopefully those gaps get filled. All in all, this was a fun, easy to read distraction of a book. I’m definitely looking forward to reading book 2. This gets an 8/10.  

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