Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Book Reviews

The Captain Jack Sparrow Handbook
Jason Heller
Quirk Books
Available Now in Hardback
Review by Rob Wade

Illustrated with film stills, line drawings and helpful diagrams, The Captain Jack Sparrow Handbook will cover everything a budding swashbuckler needs to know, including: How to sail a ship; How to climb rigging; How to decipher a treasure map; How to break a curse; How to survive being marooned; How to battle a sea monster; and much, much more.

When presented with this book, I admit that the first reaction was one of scepticism. How, given the subject matter, could they present a “how-to” guide effectively while satisfying the arguably younger target demographic? The answer, it seems, is to make it one part “Here’s a lot of awesome things that happened in the movies and how to do them in real life” combined with one of those books like The Worst Case Scenario Survival Guide or something along those lines. The result, surprisingly, is actually a bloody good book.

The book is presented as a survival guide, giving the reader all the advice they need (along with some “do-nots” to sweeten the deal and widen the scope) to become a successful pirate. As a person who has, at one point, legitimately considered getting a crew together and nicking that boat parked on the Thames that used to belong to Sir Francis Drake, it struck a chord with me very swiftly. All the information is presented really clearly, making it an absolute doddle to understand, and even throws in a few good gags for the adults, much like the movies in that respect.

The only downside I can find with this book (aside from the RRP of £12.99 being a little on the steep side for a sub-200 page book) is that it’s specifically written for fans of Pirates of the Caribbean, thus the younger readers will without doubt confuse the fictional parts of the pirate instructions (which refer to the characters and events of the movies) with the real history of pirates. As a result, too, it deals with pirates like Anne Bonny, but leaves out the lesbian overtones present in history. It’s understandable, given the subject matter, but still a little disappointing.

Sure, it’ll strike a chord even more heavily with those ‘random’ twats you see in a public park playing with Frisbees despite being well into their mid-20s, who will then claim themselves to be capable of legitimate piracy instead of just torrenting music like they currently do, but they’re going to find themselves something to latch onto anyway, especially now that the vampire stuff seems to be drying up somewhat. Pirates traditionally find themselves among the fad subjects of twats pretty consistently, so that’s never going to go away.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Violence: The book deals heavily with the theme of piracy, so sword fights are talked about, but from an instructional point of view.
Sex/Nudity: The book does reference Anne Bonny, who as we all know was a lesbian pirate who possibly had her boobs out. Awesome.
Swearing: There are some classic pirate “diss” words, but nothing likely to cause offence to the non-pirate.
Summary: A really well-presented and amusing read. 9/10

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