SE-RART’S 4th YEAR: ADVENTURE
Our first meeting of the 2017-18 Southeastern Mass. Reader’s Advisory Roundtable will be an Introduction to Reader’s Advisory and Genre Study, at the Jonathan Bourne Public Library in Bourne on Wednesday, October 18, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. There will be no benchmark title or second title reading requirement, but some readings will be emailed to registered participants that will be helpful to have read prior to the meeting.
This opening overview will be a chance for continuing members of the group to revisit reader’s advisory techniques and for anyone who has been on the fence about jumping in to do a genre study to see what it’s all about!
Please register for the October 18th program — An Introduction to Reader’s Advisory and Genre Study — on the MLS Workshop Calendar. Please register as early as possible in order to receive the readings in advance.
After the October meeting, the SE-RART will start a study of the Action/Adventure genre. The 2017-18 is as follows. The genre study group is always open to new members. Come for any or all that you can!
SE-RART 2017-18 Meeting Schedule
Wed., October 18, 10-12 Introduction to RA and Genre Study
Jonathan Bourne Public Library, 19 Sandwich Rd., Bourne
Thurs., December 7, 10-12
Adventure Genre Overview
Benchmark: Clive Cussler novel, your choice
(Suggestions from Joyce Saricks: Inca Gold, Sahara, or Treasure)
Wed., February 7, 2018, 10-12 / no snow date
Benchmark: Bernard Cornwell, The Last Kingdom
Tues., April 3, 10-12 Espionage/Political Thriller
Benchmark: David Baldacci, Camel Club
Thurs., June 14, 10-12 Military Adventure
Benchmark: Matthew Reilly, Ice Station
Adventure Genre Meeting – December 7, 2017
To get the most out of the meeting, please read a novel by Clive Cussler – your choice of Treasure, Sahara, or Inca Gold – as the benchmark title, as well as another book from the Adventure genre. (See suggestions below.) Be ready to talk about them in terms of reader’s advisory appeal factors, as laid out by RA-guru Joyce Saricks:
- Pacing (e.g. breakneck, unhurried, densely written)
- Characterization (e.g. quirky, well developed, ensemble cast)
- Plot/Storyline (e.g. action-oriented, sensual, domestic, sexually explicit)
- Tone/Mood (e.g. gritty, heartwarming, political)
- Style/Language (e.g. sophisticated, homespun, frank)
- Frame/Setting (e.g. urban, rural, world-building, time-frame)
NOTE: If you don’t finish your two novels in time for the meeting, it’s OK just to follow the “Read a Book in Ten Minutes” guidelines in order to be prepared enough to talk about the books in RA terms. Short, additional readings for discussion at the December meeting will be emailed to registered participants. Please register on the MLS Web site!
If you’re looking for ideas for your second title, we have put together a list of possibilities for general adventure authors, trying to avoid our upcoming subgenres of Historical Adventure, Espionage/Political Thriller, and Military Adventure.
Jack Du Brul
John J. Nance
Nonfiction ADVENTURE TITLES
Alive by Piers Paul Read
Endurance by Alfred Lansing
Into the Wild or Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer
The Perfect Storm by Sebastian Junger
Shadow Divers by Robert Kurzon
River of Doubt by Candice Millard
Adventure Genre – 2nd Titles
These are the write-ups of second titles read in the Adventure genre received so far. Please submit yours if you haven’t done so yet! In alphabetical order by author…
Author: Ted Bell
Main Appeal Factors: Fast-paced, action-packed storyline; battle strategy, some science fiction
Annotation/Thoughts: Frame: Contemporary setting with America and its allies as the global good guys, with a secret-agent English hero who owns a lethal warship disguised as a luxury yacht. Setting ranges from Russia and Iraq to U.S. and England.
Tone: The tone is good guys vs. bad guys – no ambiguity about who is who. James Bond-like casual violence and bromance bantering keep the tone more entertaining than thought-provoking. Subtle racism and blatant sexism may be offensive to some readers.
Pacing: Action-packed, fast-paced adventure story, with a science fiction element
Plot/Storyline: The world is being terrorized by an unknown enemy who is able to control computer and electronic systems from a vast distance, causing tragic deaths of masses of people in places like Disney World when the rides all malfunction at once. There are loose ends from previous books to wrap up before the hero, secret-agent Alex Hawke, gets involved in figuring out what is happening, and he is in Russia at the beginning to find the daughter of a Tsar he thought was dead but heard rumors was alive.
Characterization: Main character Alex Hawke is a “natural leader”. A British lord in his mid-thirties he is – underneath his physically fit, elegant, handsome, tall exterior – “a creature of radiant violence” who excels in matters of war. “Men want to be him, women want to bed him.”
Title: The Columbus Affair
Author: Steve Berry
Main Appeal Factors: Story and setting
Annotation/Thoughts: The Columbus Affair is a stand alone adventure book by Steve Berry. There are two main storylines, the first about the leading character, Tom Sagan, and his relationship with his estranged daughter. The other storyline is about the finding of a treasure on the island of Jamaica that was hidden by Christopher Columbus and his crew on his fourth voyage to the Americas. Berry uses the voices of 4 of the characters in this plot driven book. The characters have been created with some individual personalities making them seem a little bit more human than the main characters in other adventures novels such as those of Clive Cussler. The historical descriptions keep the pace at a moderate speed and the chapters become shorter and shorter as the book goes on. Although there is violence, it is not terribly gorey. The fictional history in this book is fascinating and Berry provides notes in the back to explain what is history and what has been fictionalized.
Author: Dan Brown
Main Appeal Factors: Mystery Thriller
Annotation/Thoughts: Reoccurring character Robert Langdon is back on another adventure. Using his skills at puzzle solving and his intricate knowledge of history he attempts to uncover the secret earth shattering announcement that was interrupted before it could be broadcast to the world. The main character uses his intellect rather than brawn throughout the book. This fast paced book was set primarily in Spain with interesting information on architecture and history, mixed with religion and intrigue. The mood was overall suspenseful with a twist ending. Mixed with a bit of sci-fi involving a supercomputer this book could be considered a crossover of action with science fiction and mystery thriller. Rather than the standard hero in an action book this character reads more as a realistic hero with faults and quirks like the everyday man.
Title: The Bear (originally The Grizzly King)
Author: James O. Curwood
Main Appeal Factors: Characterization, Tone, Plot, Setting
Genre: Adventure/Classic (published 1916)
Annotation/Thoughts: The Bear is deeply rooted on the environmentalism movement as it gained momentum through the 19th century. As this story unravels in the Canadian Rockies, it centers around the anthropomorphic lives of an orphaned bear cub, its adoptive father bear named Thor, the hunters after Thor’s hide and the classic turn of events as the hunter becomes the hunted thus changing their point of view, introspection. Clive Cussler’s characters travel all over the world which I think translates to his outdoorsy nature as a person. Similarly, through his vivid writing, Curwood expresses himself as an author who loves the outdoors and uses his works of fiction to raise awareness to the real world problems facing us today such as fauna destruction/degradation by man, for example.
Title: Beautiful Sacrifice
Author: Elizabeth Lowell
Main Appeal Factors: Romance crossover appeal; exotic locale; life-and-death situation
Genre: Adventure/Romantic Suspense
Annotation/Thoughts: Archaeologist Lina Taylor is an expert on Maya antiquities, and is herself descended from Maya royalty. When Hunter Johnston asks for her assistance in recovering stolen Maya artifacts, she finds herself as enchanted by Hunter as by the priceless missing artifacts. That the disappearance occurred shortly before the end of the Mayan calendar on December 21, 2012 has them wondering if the theft was committed by treasure hunters or religious fanatics. The chase eventually leads them to Lina’s sprawling family compound in Mexico, where their exploration of the local ruins leads them to answers that could cost them their lives. This story has crossover appeal for fans of romantic suspense. The fact that the protagonist is a female of Mexican heritage also gives it multicultural appeal. There is a great deal of background and facts given about Maya artifacts, which could be fascinating or boring depending on where the reader’s interests lie. The extensive detail seems to keep the pace slower than a typical adventure story. There is undoubtedly a shortage of adventure stories with strong female protagonists; until more are written, the romantic suspense adventure stories will have to do.
Title: Altar of Eden
Author: James Rollins
Main Appeal Factors: Scientific Advancements, Superhuman animals, Exotic location, Non-stop action
Annotation/Thoughts: 1) Almost every chapter ended with a cliff hanger.
2) At any moment someone was going to get killed.
3) While technology (like Tom Clancy) wasn’t highlighted, the genetic/viral theme was very much like Robin Cook or Michael Crichton.
4) While there was a romantic element, it was very, very, very low key.
5) The bad guys were really evil.
6) The good guys were conflicted and damaged by their pasts.
7) There was enough description to set the scene without getting in the way of it being a page-turner.
8) Definitely a adrenaline book. I had to turn it off sometimes because my heart was pounding too much as a I drove.
9) Saber-toothed panthers? Pi-spouting parrots? What more could a girl want?
Adventure Genre Discussion – Dec. 7, 2017
The Southeastern Mass. Reader’s Advisory Roundtable (SE-RART) met Thursday, December 7, at the Thayer Public Library in Braintree to discuss the Adventure genre. The benchmark title was your choice of a novel by Clive Cussler. Many of us read Treasure, Sahara, or Raise the Titanic! – all novels featuring Cussler’s best-known manly hero, Dirk Pitt.
We talked about characteristics of the Adventure genre, in general, based on our supplemental readings:
- Saricks, Joyce. The Readers’ Advisory Guide to Genre Fiction, 2nd ed. Chapter 2: Adventure, pp. 15–33
- Saricks, Joyce. Getting Up to Speed in Adventure Fiction (NoveList)
We discussed key elements of adventure fiction:
- Fast pace, often short time span
- Story focused on action and life-and-death situations, often a mission, usually a happy ending with order restored (“Romance for men”)
- Identifiable hero, likeable and extremely capable
- Detailed settings, often foreign places, often include maps
- Tone often dark, due to danger, but humor can lighten tone
- Language usually colorful, often with military jargon, makes reader feel involved
“Cinematic is a term often applied to Adventure story lines…These are stories made for the big screen, with larger-than-life heroes on seemingly impossible missions, often striving for the ultimate goal of making the world safe, if not actually saving it through their efforts. As in Romance and Suspense, readers expect a happy ending.” – The Readers’ Advisory Guide to Genre Fiction, 2nd ed.
We talked about the Clive Cussler benchmark titles that we read and answered “yes” to most of these questions, except for the last one:
- Did the book you chose have a one-word title?
- Did the story have a hero on a mission?
- How does Dirk Pitt set the standard for the typical Adventure hero?
- Was the action in the book over-the-top?
- Were there exotic locales, foreign countries?
- Any female characters play an important role in the story?
Clive Cussler’s Dirk Pitt character was described by the group as having a strong moral code, natural leadership ability, and unerring intuition. Also very smart and brilliant at tactical maneuvers – always a step ahead of everyone else in figuring out what the enemy/villain will do next.
We also talked about book covers of adventure fiction and Maggie’s theory that blues and greens predominate, while warmer colors (red, orange, yellow) would indicate the book was geared more towards thriller readers.
Second titles have been posted; it’s OK to submit yours still, if you forgot! Second titles in the Adventure genre that we read and talked about in terms of reader’s advisory appeal factors – frame, tone, pacing, plot/storyline, characters – included the following:
Phantom by Ted Bell
Columbus Affair by Steve Berry
Origin by Dan Brown
The Bear by James O. Curwood
Beautiful Sacrifice by Elizabeth Lowell
Altar of Eden by James Rollins
Missed the meeting? View the agenda which also lists additional RA resources we talked about.