Thursday, April 1, 2010

Max Cassidy Paul Adam

Max Cassidy: Escape from Shadow Island by Paul Adam
14 yr old Max is the youngest escape artist in London. He performs to sold out crowds. Max's fathers was one of the best escapologist in the world. Two years ago Max's father was murdered and Max's mother was arrested for the crime.

Max is positive his mother is innocent and is determined to prove it. He heads to Santo Domingo the central Amercian country, where Max's father had his last show and was supposedly murdered by his wife.

This was a lot of fun to read. Its filled with action, close calls and a few prison breaks. With an action adventure novel like Max Cassidy, I think how good the book is depends on how believable an author can make a fictional character that's improbable. Adam does a good job with Max. He is a down to earth 14 yr old who just happens to be an escape artist.The author gives us some of Max's back story, so we know his skill comes from practice and hardwork. Max is smart, plans ahead and thinks things through.

As much as I enjoyed this novel I had a problem with the name of the fictional central American country. I think giving the country the same name as the capital of the Dominican Republic will confuse many readers. Yes I know this is fiction but the author does surround this fictional country with real ones.

"He clicked on a few websites and read through them. Santo Domingo was a tiny country in Central America, so small most people had never heard of it. It was dwarfed by the nearby much larger states of Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica. Santo Domingo seemed to have kept its independence only because there was nothing much there that anyone wanted. "

The author puts in facts that if the reader didn't know any better would think Santo Domingo was real.

For more than a hundred years thereafter the country was run by a succession of military dictators, each as brutal and incompetent as the last, until in the 1970's a nationwide uprising removed the last of the generals and brought democracy and fair election to Santo Domingo. The leader of the Partido Democratico Popular. The Democratic Popular party or PDP was a teacher named Juan Cruz.

The Democratic Popular Party is the name of a Puerto Rican poltical party

I have no problem with the author creating a fictional country. Its done all the time. Though why confuse readers by making it sound almost true.

An author's note or a fact guide in the back would've been helpful. The author could've talked a little about Central American countries, why he decided to set his novel in a fictional country and a few facts on the real Democratic Popular Party. For awhile I wondered if I was overthinking this but I don't think so.

In the end I know this is fiction so I will still recommend it. Young readers who like action adventure stories with a little mystery will enjoy Max Cassidy. ages 11up. An excerpt


Sarah Rettger said...

Argh! You just wanted to get me ranting today, didn't you, Doret?

- I don't have citations here at work, but I'm pretty sure the colonial Dominican Republic was known as Santo Domingo, which makes it even worse. Even if it didn't occur to the author, how did the editor and copy editor let it through? Sure, it's always a challenge to come up with a name for a fake country, but plenty of authors have done it successfully - Madeleine L'Engle's fictional South American nation is Vespugia; Philip Pullman has used Razkavia in a couple of his books; Peter Dickinson has a few.

And even if the author wasn't much for neologisms, there are plenty of other saints to choose from. (I think I tried to write about the country of San Cristobal once, but the story lacked other important things, like plot.)

- The Puerto Rican party's Spanish name is actually Partido Popular Democrático. If he was going to rip off an existing party's name, was it too much to ask that he keep the same syntax?

Rant over.

- Sarah, who still has college papers she wrote about Puerto Rico's political system

Doret said...

Thanks for the correction on Puerto Rico's political party.

I am really surprised the author wasn't required to include a fact guide at the end of the book.

Lyn Miller-Lachmann said...

Yes, Santo Domingo was the colonial name of what is now the Dominican Republic. And since this isn't a pure fantasy (real countries mentioned), an author's note would have been especially helpful.

Lenore Appelhans said...

I agree on the author's note.

Anonymous said...

sorry it took me so long to get here and i'm glad I did. This sounds like kind of book. The things you mention that were put together without enough though such as the name of the party would have gone over my head. I tend to skip that part when I read. My Bad!!!
I always enjoy your reviews and need to be better at letting you know and leaving a comment. I'll try hard to do so. thanks

Jo Ann
BronzeWord Latino Authors