The New World by Andrew Motion
|The New World by Andrew Motion|
|Category: Historical Fiction|
|Reviewer: Louise Jones|
|Summary: Poet Andrew Motion continues the story of Treasure Island, as the children of the original characters explore America.|
|Buy? No||Borrow? No|
|Pages: 368||Date: October 2014|
|Publisher: Jonathan Cape|
Following the success of his sequel to Treasure Island, Silver: Return to Treasure Island, poet Andrew Motion continues the adventures of young Jim (the son of the original Jim Hawkins) and Natty (daughter of Long John Silver) following a shipwreck which leaves them washed up on the shores of the New World. The good news is that the bar silver recovered from the island has survived the journey. The bad news is that the natives have spotted it too...
So begins a brand new chapter in the Treasure Island story, moving away from piracy and the high seas and focusing on a long journey over land as the two friends travel through Texas, with an irate chief known as 'Black Cloud' in hot pursuit. Jim has stolen something precious that belongs to the chief, and he wants it back. Along the way, the friends meet a variety of weird and wonderful characters, including the bird-man Hoopoe, fur-clad pioneer Achilles Williams and an ethereal circus performer with a bulbous head, known as 'the spectacle'. Together they work hard to remain one step ahead of Black Cloud, especially as he has a reputation for disembowelling and scalping anyone who crosses him. On this note, I should also point out that this book is not suitable for very young fans of the original Treasure Island, as it contains some quite graphic torture scenes at the beginning.
As a poet, Motion has an extraordinary way with words and creates wonderfully evocative descriptions of the American landscape. The characters in the story are equally as colourful and memorable, standing in stark contrast to the main character Jim, who is a solid, unassuming 'everyman'. Natty Silver is a complex character, with plenty of depth, which can make her something of an enigma. Throughout the story, her relationship with Jim blows hot and cold, with Natty running the whole gamut of emotions including flirtatious, needy, distant, cold, contentious and violent. Their relationship makes for an unpredictable and entertaining read.
Unfortunately, the pace of the story was a real let-down. The opening chapters seemed promising, setting the scene for an exciting, feverish pursuit across America to retrieve a stolen item. However, the story soon lost momentum, with the main characters stopping off at various points in their journey for months and even years at a time. The tale lost its air of suspense and tension and became a leisurely amble through Texas rather than an action-packed chase. Poetic narrative demands a more sedate pace; an action adventure requires constant movement. If an author tries to combine both, the whole story suffers as a result.
Likewise, I found the ending disappointing. A story that started with a bang seemed to end with a simper, with very little in the way of resolution and more worryingly, every possibility of ANOTHER sequel.
The New World was enjoyable enough, but had very little in common with its predecessor and may leave fans of the original story feeling disappointed. I think maybe it is time to follow the example of Long John Silver and leave this saga buried for good.
The book can be read as a standalone novel, but Bookbag recommends reading Silver: Return to Treasure Island in order to understand the background of the story.
You can read more book reviews or buy The New World by Andrew Motion at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The New World by Andrew Motion at Amazon.com.
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