“The sun wasn’t supposed to set for another hour, but the night came early that day. Overhead was a dark purple skin with gray veins. It slid over the sky with a definite edge… it stretched out to the horizon in every direction”
– Paul Griffin, Adrift
Five of us went out on the water that night. None of us came back whole, and not all of us came back. Best friends Matt and John are spending the summer working: Matt to save money for college, John to kill time before trade school. On the beach, the beautiful Driana stops Matt in his tracks. Dri, Stef and JoJo invite the boys to a party at Dri’s Hamptons mansion, and Matt drags John along.
When Stef decides it’s a beautiful night to go windsurfing, the others race out on the water to make sure she’s safe. But with no land in sight and a broken boat engine, it’s not just Stef they have to worry about. And as the hours turn into days, the prospect of rescue seems further and further away…
There is one kind of fiction I have always believed to be one of the hardest to write and that is the adventure/survival story. Ever since I read Hatchet by Gary Paulsen in early high school I haven’t been able to find another story like it. I was genuinely intrigued when Adrift by Paul Griffin came in the mail. This is the first review book I have been sent that hasn’t quite hit the mark for me.
After finishing their junior year, Matt and John land summer jobs in Montauk, Long Island. One day on the beach, Matt notices the beautiful Driana playing in the sand and is later invited to join her and her friends at a party. Late that night, Driana’s friend Stef takes out a windsurfer to ride the waves by starlight, gets a little too far from shore and is followed out in a small boat by Matt, John, Driana and Stef’s boyfriend Jojo. After a set of circumstances sees all five characters floating out in the Atlantic Ocean, it becomes a struggle against time… who will survive?
There are times when characters can make or break a story and this time I wasn’t able to connect with any of them. Each of them had their own little quirks: Matt was a little boring, John came across as a mild sociopath, Jojo and Stef a little unstable and Driana was the stereotypical beautiful-rich-yet-smart girl. I found it hard to connect with any of them and so it made it much harder to get into the story. I also had a hard time believing the circumstances that landed them in the water in the first place as well as the secondary storyline of Matt and John’s history together. It all seemed a little too easy.
However in saying this, once they were on the water I found there were parts of Griffin’s writing that I really started to enjoy. Although I was indifferent to the characters, I really liked the way Griffin developed their psychological reactions to their situation. Matt’s obsession with Driana and loyalty to John made him the mediator, John’s dissociative nature made him the practical one and Driana was the voice of reason. I liked the way Griffin explored the vulnerabilities of each character and revealed how each one reacted to the situation. It is impossible to know how an individual will react.
I also really liked the way Griffin described their physical surroundings. I felt that he captured the monotony of being stuck out at sea and the exposure to the elements really well; I felt the heat of the sun beating down during the day, the tingle of the cool water against sunburned skin and the chill of the night. Oh, and the injuries? Griffin certainly grossed me out at times. The descriptions were the best part of the story.
Although it wasn’t my favourite book to read, I still feel there are elements of the story that were done really well. It is easy for me to sit back and critique someone else’s story – I still haven’t come up with a way for the characters to get lost at sea that I would have preferred!
AUTHOR: Paul Griffin
PUBLISHER: Text Publishing
PUB DATE: 29 July 2015
Thank you to Text Publishing for sending me a reading copy in exchange for an honest review!