Thursday, February 16, 2017

Quirk's Quest: Into the Outlands by Robert Christie and Deborah Lang

Captain Quirk, a self-confident but foolish sea captain, is delighted to be chosen by the king to explore the mysterious outlands. Along with his crew they have an easy voyage… until fearsome monsters attack! Stranded, with only a few crew members left uneaten, Quirk and his crew encounter a strange sorceress named Hukka, a group of friendly local creatures, and prepare to set out on a journey farther into the outlands. Along the way readers are introduced to the remaining crew members, the some of the secrets held by Hukka, and hints of darker things to come.

The creatures populating this story are very reminiscent of Muppets. In fact, they look exactly like Muppets with legs. They are all various incarnations of furry creatures, all with bulging eyes and a variety of skin and fur colors. A few, Burtrym the ecologist and Cleus, apprentice healer/botanist, walk on four legs (Cleus is similar to a centaur).

Each new day of their journey is introduced by the captain’s log and readers will quickly realize that Quirk is immature and ineffectual while most of his crew are obsessed with their scientific positions and particular interests. Only kitchen assistant Smok has the practical skills and knowledge needed to survive and he humbly offers his assistance without seeming upset that the rest of the crew take him for granted and continue following the vainglorious captain. The captain’s log is also written in cursive, which will throw off a lot of younger readers who no longer learn this in school.

On the one hand, it’s an interesting and exciting adventure with a promise of many new adventures to come, secrets and dark doings. On the other hand, there are a LOT of characters and although they all look very different, I found it almost impossible to keep them straight. The locals, the Yoons, are cheerful, indestructible, view everyone as their friend, and have no power structure. They also speak broken English and their behavior is very childish. There’s a calm disregard of the deaths first of most of the crew and then of the interchangeable frog army throughout the book. Although it’s implied that the captain and his choices are foolish, the crew all works together to let him think he’s in charge for no real reason.

Verdict: A fun and exciting adventure with a lot of troublesome undercurrents in the story. Interesting to discuss perhaps and may appeal to Bone fans but I’d wait and see if the second volume fleshes out the characters and problematic plot points more before purchasing it.

ISBN: 9781626722330; Published 2016 by First Second; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

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