* Prices may differ from that shown
'I first came across James Patterson when I came across his Alex Patterson novels, then I read one of his Murder Club novels and wasn't impressed. I've now got all his novels and decided to have a bash at his stand alone novels hoping they were the standard of the Alex Cross ones.
I decided to read the uninspiring titled novel Sail which he co-wrote with Howard Roughan. Sail concerns Katherine Dunne and her family who decide to take a 2 month family vacation in the hope of mending her fractured family. This will be the family trip since their father died 4 years ago and will be on the family yacht skippered by her husbands brother, Jake. Thing is, it all goes a bit belly up when they start to encounter problems with the boat and en up lost at sea. There isn't just Katherine and her kids, Mark, Callie and Eric, there's also her new husband Peter who didn't come on the trip.
This is one of Patterson's strong points, he makes amazing character and full of so much depth you can almost the person as a 'real' person.
Katherine - Definitely a 'mum', she works long hours as a heart surgeon and is racked with guilt at how little time she spends with her kids. She does try to over-compensate a little but you do feel feel sorry for her and you can tell she's trying to do her best, it doesn't come across as cloying as well. There isn't much character development but for once I don't think it's necessary.
The Kids - These are the characters that grow the most, little buggers at the beginning! Mark is a pot-head, Callie is troubled and tries to commit suicide by jumping off the boat on the first day and Eric is the ten year old with the character and attitude of a 40 year. They are the ones that grow the most, their maturity as they deal with adversity is quite stunning. It doesn't come across as fake and you end up feeling quite proud.
Peter - Oh he's not a nice character at all, throughout the whole book he doesn't have one redeeming quality. He's a nasty lawyer, a thief, a cheat but is he much more. He's quite one dimensional but that's fine, unusually that works well here. We don't need him to have hidden depths, he is what he is and as the truth comes out you'll raise a few eyebrows but not be entirely shocked.
Theres also quite a few other characters who play their part, Ellen Pierce the FBI agent who's deeply suspicious about Peter, Sgt Tatem who's organising the search for the Dunne family, Mona, Katherine's best friend. There's also 2 other characters who play very important parts. I'm not going to tell you about them because then I'd have to explain about them and that would spoil the surprises!
It isn't very original, what is original is how it's executed, it takes several different elements from different thrillers and mixes them together, and does so rather successfully. You really don't know whats going to happen to the family, its not clear cut and I like that. Most of the action in the book actually takes part away from the family and I have no problem with that. If I wanted to read Shipwrecked then I would! The end is good, there's a few twists and turns, enough to keep any thriller fans hooked, and yes indeed the unexpected does happen. I did actually raise my eyebrows more than once which is slightly unusual for me.
I did like the style of writing in this book, it is slightly softer than a lot of Pattersons writings which can come across as slightly blunt and solid sometimes. It would be nice to know just how much input Roughan has, as it always irks me when I don't know!
It's a good book, is it great? No, it doesn't break any new ground, nor is it going to make you sit there open mouthed but it's good, certainly good enough to spend a few hours whiling away the time.
When we went on holiday this year in April, I expected to be staying for a week. However, courtesy of Iceland and its volcano spurting a giant ash cloud over Europe, we found ourselves staying for thirteen days. There were not very many of us staying at the hotel so we all easily became good friends and we decided that we would a swap books as few of us had brought enough reading matter to last the extra days, and since we were advised not to leave the hotel in case of updates, there was little else to do except lounge by the pool and read (whilst sampling the free all inclusive bar!) I swapped some trashy (but very readable) chick lit for something of a completely different genre and I ended up with Sail and I think that I got quite a good deal!
Sail is by James Patterson and Howard Roughan. I have read material by Patterson in the past and enjoyed it, but this was my first experience of a novel by the two authors together so I was expecting there to be some continuity issues, fortunately there were not any and the storyline developed simply and seamlessly.
The plot of the book is nothing out of the ordinary in my opinion. We are introduced to the Dunne family with a brief note about each member of the family at the very start of the book. From each description, it is easy for the reader to build up an impression of a wealthy but dysfunctional family who have lost their connection with one another (after the untimely death of their father) and lost their zest for life. The mother, Katherine Dunne who has since remarried the slick lawyer Peter Carlyle, decides that a boat trip with her three children on the family yacht would bring them closer together, so, captained by the children's uncle Jake (the brother of Katherine's deceased husband) the five of them set off on what the reader already knows to be an ill fated journey.
I feel as though I got to know each of the characters very well in this book. The brief descriptions of each member of "the crew" really helped me to understand why each character acted in the ways that they did throughout the book and the authors kept true to their natures until the end. Other characters that popped up within the book were all crucial to the story line, and it was also very easy to understand each of their actions.
Patterson and Roughan did not spend any time at all giving physical descriptions of the characters, but I do not feel as though I needed any and I built up a good picture of each character in my mind's eye without needing any description - I guess this is through excellent writing skills and years of experience.
The book is divided into six parts (excluding the prologue and the epilogue) and there is a total of 125 chapters which I feel is far too many. A lot of the chapters are less than two pages long, which I think divides up the book unnecessarily; I do not feel that a chapter change was necessary most of the time, and generally speaking a new paragraph would have sufficed.
As the Dunne family lurch from one disaster to another, the reader should really feel a sense of shock and horror, but partly because of the punctuation used; this did not come across very well at all. Far too many exclamation marks are utilised to the point that it became almost a joke rather than thrilling, but this is also what kept it light and easy to read. Also in times of fear, the characters often made a joke which completely took away the suspense and made me think that it was a bit silly. Having said all of that, this is a suspense thriller and although at times the storyline becomes slightly unrealistic and even though there are a fair amount of holes, it somehow kept me gripped and I was unable to put it down. There is nothing deep and heavy about it, in fact, it is somewhat shallow in places but that was what made it so easy to read!
All questions are answered by the end of the book, and everything is wrapped up very nicely. The ending was what I was expecting, but we got there in a way that was totally unexpected which made a pleasant change to what was otherwise an enjoyable yet averagely predictable novel.
Over all I really enjoyed this book. It's sheer simplicity made it a very readable novel, and I feel as though the characters developed nicely. I could very much connect with the mother and the way that she wanted to bring her family closer together and I sympathised when it all started to fall apart. I would recommend this book if you are looking for something easy to read, and as a holiday novel it is perfect because you can read it without stopping or it is easy to put down and get back into at a later time. It is not a gritty thrilling read, but it ticks a lot of boxes and I have certainly read a lot worse.
ISBN 9780099538882 (2008)
James Patterson is an author who I read regularly and recently I came into possession of Sail which is actually written by James Patterson and Howard Roughan. Sail is about Katherine Dunne, her brother in law Jake, her children Carrie, Mark and Ernie and her husband Peter Carlyle. Katherine has decided to take her kids and brother in law on a sailing trip on her luxury yacht to bond but a violent storm leaves them struggling. Then the boat explodes and they are stranded in the water with no means of travel. The coastguard cannot find them or any trace of the boat and they are missing "presumed dead". Peter Carlyle meanwhile is having an affair with a beautiful younger woman and knows more about the disaster then he is saying.
What exactly happened to the boat, The Family Dunne, and who will survive the wreck? What does Peter know about it?
This book is written in typical James Patterson style with short snappy chapters that flick from person to person and keep the story moving along at a pace of knots (excuse the pun!). I don't see where the other author contributed but if he's named on the cover he must have done somehow!
The storyline is however an old one. New husband tries to get rid of wealthy wife and claim all the inheritance by also removing the children. A boating accident as the source of removing these obstacles is a very tried and tested method and has literally been done to death but this book somehow manages to carry it off with a small degree of style. There are times when it all gets cheesy and corny and predictable but for the most part you can't help but be interested in what's happening.
Naturally Katherine has a dark secret that gets revealed later on in the book and this wouldn't be a thriller without at least one death so you know not everyone is going to make it to the end of the novel. There are a few bits involving the Dunne children that I couldn't see the point of, they came across as needless fillers and didn't add anything to the story at all.
The characters aren't especially endearing either, it's hard to get attached to anyone on the boat except maybe Jake and Ernie so I ended up not really caring much about the others and whether they'd survive.
I liked the twist at the end though, I didn't expect it so that's always a good sign and it changed the feel of the story to a real dark thriller rather than a predictable one. It's not a new, fresh twist but it does come out of nowhere and manages to pep up the ending.
Did I like this book? I appear to have mixed thoughts judging by what I've just written but essentially it wasn't bad. It's not one I would rave about and I'll definitely never read it again but it kept me entertained for a couple of days. I would say if you like James Patterson's style of writing this book will appeal to you but don't expect much in the way of unpredictable plotlines. I also think if this manuscript had been submitted by a new author it would have been dismissed but the publishers appear to have gone with it because it was written by a previous bestselling author and they knew it would sell regardless.
Sail is available to buy new from Amazon for £5.16 or used for 1p. I recommend either borrowing it like I did or buying it used because I doubt many people will give this a second read.
First published in 2008
As some people may know from some of my other reviews, I am very hesitant when trying a new author and prefer to borrow a book from a friend, than buy one and realise I don't like their style of writing. This is the first book I've read by James Patterson, and it certainly won't be my last. My brother-in-law lent this to me and it was finished within 24 hours!
Katherine Dunne tragically lost her husband, Stuart, after an accident on their private boat called 'The Family Dunne'. After remarrying to Peter Carlyle (who is a super-successful lawyer) her relationship with her's and Stuart's children goes rapidly downhill. In an attempt to bond with her children again, she organises a 3 week trip on the same boat her husband died on. As well as Katherine and her 3 children (Mark, Ernie and Carrie) she also invites Jake Dunne, who was Stuart's brother, to act as Captain of the boat.
Not long into the 3 week bonding holiday, a storm hits and the boat comes into deep trouble. Water is seeping into the lower decks. Luckily Jake is able to fix the problem, and they wait to ride the storm out. When the storm is over, they go on the top deck to assess the damage, and not long after there is a huge explosion. The family are launched into the sea with no chance of any help. This can't be a coincidence that so many things have gone wrong so short into their holiday, but who's behind the accidents and why?
The family come across a deserted island, and on Katherine's orders, wait for help to arrive. A few days later as the family have run out of food, somebody arrives on the island. But why are they there? Do they want the Dunne family dead? Obviously I'm not going to tell you ;)
In most books, we find out who the villain is towards the end of the book, but in this novel, we find out very soon. This shocked me as I couldn't understand how they could still write another 200 pages after being told this information, but I had to read on! Even though I was shocked when I found out what had happened to the family, and when I found out who was behind it all, I was even more shocked with the ending and definitely did not see it coming. In my opinion, being shocked when you thought there was no more to come, certainly makes great reading, and this book was no different.
The chapters are only a few pages long, which is great if you want to read some of your book but don't have the time to read all of it. But, I was hooked from the beginning and couldn't put the blooming thing down (much to the irritation of my partner which is a bonus!!).
I will definitely be reading more of James Patterson, and with a long list of books written by him, I've found my new author to keep me busy for a while! Now just have to find the books at a bargain price ......
In a slightly different change of tack from crime thriller author James Patterson, Sail takes the author's usual mode of fast storytelling with a number of plot twists, but also provides us with an insight that the characters don't see by identifying the villain of the story to us from an early stage.
The plot sees Katherine Dunne the star of the piece, the heroine of the novel, now on her second marriage and hoping for the trip away with her husband Peter and her three children to bring them closer and relax her a little bit. However, things don't turn out quite as planned, and soon their lives are all placed in danger. Patterson reveals the villain to us readers quite early on, but he does add some twists and turns as is his usual style.
Patterson's general writing style is very fast and furious, with the short chapters and quick plot flow leaving little or no time for long, descriptive passages at any time. This leads many people to view his work as 'crime trash', but it is better than that - the writing keeps you interested, and although the short chapters often mean that there are many stopping places, the fast and furious style makes you not want to put it down.
Patterson has collaborated on this book with Howard Roughan, and it has sort of worked, with an enjoyable tale from start to finish. I recommend giving this a go. The book is not as enjoyable as Patterson's books usually are, but it's still well worth a read. 'Sail' is available currently from amazon.co.uk for £5.98.