________________ CM . . . . Volume XI Number 1 . . . . September 3, 2004


Sea Chase.

Curtis Parkinson.
Toronto, ON: Tundra Books, 2004.
186 pp., pbk., $12.99.
ISBN 0-88776-682-X.

Grades 5-9 / Ages 10-14.

Review by Valerie Nielsen.

*** /4

Reviewed from prepublication copy.

It is not surprising, given Curtis Parkinson's five year experience of living on a sailboat in the Caribbean, that he has set his second young adult novel on the sea. Like Storm-Blast, published in 2003, Sea Chase features a teen-aged protagonist who suddenly finds himself in sole charge of a vessel in danger on the sea.

     Fifteen-year old Brodie and his dad set off to sail from Puerto Rico through the Panama Canal and across the Pacific Ocean. Though his father has been teaching him to sail for a few weeks, the trip is to be Brodie's first real offshore experience. Four days into their voyage Brodie wakes to find no sign of his father on the ship. There can be only one explanation:


He felt nausea well up in his stomach and buried his face in his hands at the picture that leapt to mind-his father falling overboard, calling out, watching helplessly as the boat sailed away. Then waiting, waiting for the sharks.

     In order to find his father, Brodie must turn the boat around and retrace his course. Suddenly, the sailing skills that his dad has been teaching him become of life and death importance. The story takes a sinister turn when Brodie discovers that his father is being held captive in Columbia by gangsters who believe that he is a wealthy business man. Their plan is to ship him to a guerilla camp in the mountains where he will be held until a large ransom is paid by his family. It is up to Brodie to find the guerrilla hide-out and persuade his captors of the futility of holding a man like his father, who has neither money nor family to pay for his release. Early in his quest, the protagonist meets Carlos, a young Columbian about his own age, who has the right mixture of knowledge and pluck and appears eager to help him find his father. Brodie's discovery that his intrepid companion is a young woman (Carlota), rather than a young man, is just the beginning of an amazing series of adventures. Their father-freeing mission plunges the two young people into the violent world of Columbian drug traffickers, guerillas and paramilitaries. Parkinson moves his story towards its exciting climax at a dizzying pace filled with unexpected twists and turns. There is no doubt that Sea Chase is the sort of suspense-laden tale of action that will appeal to boys.

     By setting his story in Columbia, the author asks a higher degree of political and historical sophistication of the reader than he did in his first sea story. Unfortunately, there are times when Parkinson assumes a preachy tone to fill the reader in with background information. As well, young readers may find it a little daunting to keep suspending disbelief as the two adventurers make one lucky and/or miraculous escape after another. Despite these drawbacks, however, middle and junior high librarians should find Sea Chase an adventure story well worth adding to their collection in that genre.


Valerie Nielsen, a retired teacher-librarian, lives in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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