Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Pacific Vortex! by Clive Cussler

Pacific Vortex! (Dirk Pitt, #1)Pacific Vortex! by Clive Cussler

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In the foreword, Clive Cussler mentioned that he created Dirk Pitt to be a character in the vein of James Bond, and he certainly brings that to mind.  Not in the most flattering way for me though.  He reminds of the aspects of the Bond films from the 60s-80s I did not like. The casual disregard for women (their relevance mainly relegated to their use as pawns or sex objects), with a little bit of violence thrown in.  Before anyone gets angry, you know what they say about opinions. This is mine.  I just have a button with this type of character, and it was pushed with this book.  Having said that, if I disregard Pitt's womanizing, woman-dismissing ways, this is a pretty good book.

I liked the maritime adventure a lot. I also enjoyed Cussler's highly visual portrait of the Pacific Ocean.  The Pacific isn't a static, inanimate setting in this novel.  In fact, it is personified in ways that I found very affecting.  The Pacific in this novel, is not just a place of awe-inspiring natural beauty, but also a place of violence and hidden menace. 

As far as plotting, Cussler draws out the mystery of the Pacific Vortex very well.  Initially, I was prepared to be believe in the otherworldly phenomena as evidenced. It was pretty creepy, in fact. That ghosts could menace and attack the living.  Pitt is a lot more cynical than I am though.  He doesn't believe it for a minute.  Good thing, because the Navy has tasked him with finding the lost submarine.  This novel progresses in waves, point A moving naturally to point Z, and as it goes the storyline changes.  Eventually, it arrives to a slightly different destination that I expected, but it's fitting in the context of what Cussler's overall goals were in writing this book and creating the character of Dirk Pitt.

I'm glad I decided to keep reading this, even after being turned off by Pitt's behavior towards women.  The adventure drew me in.  I found the maritime/ship components of the storyline interesting.  Although there was a fair amount of jargon, it did not hinder my ability to understand what was going on. Instead, it immersed me deeper into the story. The adventure scenes were good, with many on the edge, hold-your-breath moments.  Not just man versus man, but also nature versus man.  Going back to the overall personification of the deep, infinite Pacific Ocean and all that it holds. There are infinite ways the Ocean can kill you, besides bad guys in the water, and Cussler just scratches the surface in this novel.

My rating takes into consideration the following factors:

:  Good Overall, but I give it an F for romance--totally unbelievable.  All of a sudden, love blooms between getting hit in the groin and socking a woman on the jaw, and meeting twice more!  Sorry, but I can't buy that any woman would fall in love with Pitt that fast, especially after being knocked out with a punch to the jaw.)  (Point deduction for unbelievable romance)

Characters: Fair--Pitt is sometimes unlikable (arrogant and dismissive), and other characters are less developed. He was hard to relate to, which made me more judgmental of his flaws. I wasn't allowed to get to know the other characters very well since they were more like ways to progress the storyline than three-dimensional characters.  (Point taken off for underdeveloped and marginalized female characters and the manner in which the male lead treats females.)

Action/Adventure Scenes
: Very good.  Good emphasis on the dangers of the Pacific Ocean and the use of maritime setting.

Honorable Mentions:  Nice twists in the storyline.  Cool evolution in the identity of the villain and what that person wanted.  Nice blast to the past: This book me back to the 80s where most of us kiddos wondered who would push the button first.

End Verdict:  Pacific Vortex! as my introduction to Clive Cussler didn't blow me away.  I've had it on good authority that he has some excellent books and Dirk's caveman personality isn't representative across the board of typical characterization in his body of work.  It had some good points and some bad points.  Overall a good adventure novel and an entertaining read.  Glad my library had a copy because this isn't a book I feel the need to add to my personal library.  I may have an ongoing love/hate relationship with Dirk Pitt that has nothing to do with my dislike of Matthew McConaughey, since I haven't even seen Sahara.

Ultimately, I am thankful that members of the Action/Adventure Aficionados selected this book for our August Group Read, warts and all.

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