Nick of Time

Nick McIver Series: Book 1
Author: Ted Bell
Lexile Level: 950L
Reading level: 6.3
My recommended reading age: 11 and up
Fantasy Fiction

At only 12 years old, Nick McIver is already a first class sailor.  With his trusty boat, the Stormy Petrol, Nick knows more about the reefs around tiny Greybeard Island than any other person alive.  Little does Nick know, but this knowledge will shortly be called upon to save an entire English sea crew from certain death.  When a brand new 18th century sea chest washes ashore, Nick and his sister, Katie, set out to discover how something so new looking could have come from the ocean, and what the mysterious golden ball inside it is for.  With the help of their close friend Gunner, the famed recluse Lord Richard Hawke, and his side kick Hobbs, Nick and Katie embark on the adventure of a lifetime, battling Nazis, pirates, and kidnappers. 

This book was one that a reader recommended, and since we love suggestions, I got on the library list.  I was surprised at how long my wait was, and quickly discovered what a popular story this book has become.  For readers who enjoyed Robert Lewis Stevenson's Treasure Island, this book is sure to be a winner.  There is action and adventure galore, mixed in with a bit of history, but not too much to feel like a school assignment.  The book includes a lot of sea lingo, which I quickly got tired of, although admittedly, my experience with proper boat terms is limited to the knowledge I gleaned from a cruise ship (which I kept getting lost on).  Maybe for sailors or cruise directors this was considered a plus, but to me it was overkill.  I also felt like the story was really long.  It dragged quite a bit, and I feel it would've benefited from a few less details and subplots to move it along a little more quickly.  Beware that there is lots of blood and killing, some rather gory descriptions of mutilation, kidnapping for ransom, and pretty much everything else you'd associate with pirates and Nazis.  This book isn't for the faint of heart.  Overall, it was an enjoyable read and I'm sure the target audience of young adult teens will love it!


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