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River Odyssey (General Fiction Childrensya) (2010)

by Philip Roy

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River Odyssey, book 3 in the Submarine Outlaw series, is another testament to Roy's gift for writing great books for kids and teens. What's most interesting about this book is just how much Alfred grows as a person. The story is a bit more "localized" in that Alfred spends a good deal of time in Montreal looking for his father, (who left him after he was born), but he learns so much about himself in the process that the story never really loses its momentum. My kids loved this novel as much as its predecessors. When you look at the series as a whole, Roy's writing simply improves with each and every book! ( )
  Isabella2 | Mar 15, 2013 |
The Submarine Outlaw is growing up, both the character and the series. Though there is still plenty of information about the working of the sub and, in this installment, the workings of the St. Lawrence River, River Odyssey reads a lot less like narrative non-fiction than the previous books in the series. I think that's because Alfred actually does a lot of growing in this book and deals with a lot of (gasp!) feelings. And he finds out that while he may want to explain everything away logically some things, especially the actions of people and the motives behind them, will always remain inexplicable.

Alfred's mother died giving birth to him, and his father left shortly thereafter. All Alfred knows about either is what he's been told by his grandparents. Most recently, when asked the question, "What was he like?", this has consisted of a tight-lipped response from his grandfather: "He's not like you" (27). For the duration of his trip, Alfred is let trying to figure out what that means. He's not adventurous? Not at home on the water? Not good with animals or without company? As Alfred sails up-river and meets a variety of people along the way (as he is wont to do), he settles on another possibility. What if his father is not good?

Still an adventure story, still a great story about how things work, River Odyssey has something else too that was missing from the other Submarine Outlaw books: emotional (rather than mechanical) conflict and growth. Though Alfred still meets, gets to know, and leaves people on his trip, though he still gets in and out of scrapes along the way (gets a whole lot closer to getting caught than we've ever seen before - it's a lot harder to flit off into international waters when you're in a river), gone is the episodic quality of the first two books. I doubt fans of the series will be missing anything that they loved in the first books and will love seeing a glimpse into the rest of Alfred's life. And I think River Odyssey may have more to offer new readers as well. This doesn't feel like fiction for young readers of non-fiction anymore. The story and the information about ships, subs, and bodies of water are much more balanced, and this book is (finally) about a boy who happens to travel the world by sub rather than about a boy and how built, maintains, and travels by submarine.

Book source: Review copy provided by the publisher
  lawral | Oct 25, 2010 |
Showing 2 of 2
"The Submarine Outlaw series has an original and appealing central concept: young Alfred pilots his unregistered submarine wherever he likes, with a seagull for a first mate and a dog for a second. He gets into trouble because he can't resist rescuing people (and animals) and so is always barely evading capture by the authorities who will take his submarine away from him. Thus, Alfred is firmly a good guy and yet still an outlaw: an irresistible combination....This is a fast-paced story....River Odyssey has definite appeal for boys, but girls might find Alfred an appealingly romantic hero. The age-old quest for the father gives depth to this exciting adventure story. Readers who discover the Submarine Outlaw in this book will want to read his earlier adventures and will eagerly await the next one. Highly Recommended."
 
"Submarine Outlaw and its sequels have firmly established themselves as a riveting adventure series that has gathered a significant following who are anxiously awaiting this next installment. And they will not be disappointed!....Roy continues to keep this series fresh and engaging. We will all join Alfred in anticipating his next voyage."
 
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In the third volume of the Submarine Outlaw series, River Odyssey, Alfred sets off in his submarine up the dark and willful St. Lawrence River. With Hollie and Seaweed, his dog and seagull crew, Alfred follows the route of Jacques Cartier, nearly five hundred years before them, as they sail down the Strait of Belle Isle into the largest river mouth in the world. But the St. Lawrence is a treacherous river, concealing many dangers beneath its surface, not least of all the cursed and ghostly Empress of Ireland, a sunken ocean-liner that has claimed the lives of over a thousand people and that reaches up to entangle the sub as they pass. Alfred must sail to Montreal to confront the man who abandoned him at birth — his father. Only then will he escape the unfinished business that haunts him. But is the quest worth the danger? And why is Alfred plagued with bad luck? Is someone, or something, trying to turn him back?
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Alfred sets off in his submarine up the dark and wilful St Lawrence River. With Hollie and Seaweed, his dog and seagull crew, Alfred follows the route of Jacques Cartier, nearly five hundred years before them, as they sail down the Strait of Belle Isle into the largest river mouth in the world.… (more)

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