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Quest by Kathleen Benner Duble
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Reviewed by Amber Gibson for TeensReadToo.com

Kathleen Benner Duble's QUEST is a unique twist on historical fiction. Tracing the footsteps of Henry Hudson's voyage to discover a passage to the Far East, QUEST is not written from Henry Hudson's perspective, but instead from four very different characters who have just as much at stake in the success of his journey. This is Henry Hudson's third attempt to find an oceanic pathway to Asia, and this time he is determined to succeed at all costs.

The Discovery sets sail in 1610 with John Hudson, Henry's 17-year old son, aboard. John keeps a log of the ship's progress, reporting on the daily activity on board. His writing veers often into daydreams of Isabella Digges, a nobleman's daughter that he wooed back home.

Richard Hudson, Henry's youngest son, remains at home with his mother while his older brother and father are off at sea. Although he is only eight, his misadventures at home are entertaining and his perspective illustrates the hardships he and his mother face, especially when The Discovery is out far longer than expected and the Hudsons at home are left in a tight financial predicament.

Isabella Digges, John's would-be lovebird, is a complex and strong female character. When her family's social status and finances take a plunge, she takes it upon herself to restore the family name and credit. Isabella cozies up to John to learn more about the Hudson's voyage, which her father has major investments in. Later, when the Hudson's are at sea, Isabella lives as a nanny with a noble Dutch family, gathering confidential naval information to pass to the English.

Seth Syms, the last character of the motley bunch, is at sea under the name of Nicholas. Back home in England, he was caught in an affair with a lady and challenged to a duel by her husband.

When The Discovery gets stuck in ice, the crew is forced to wait it out in uncharted territory until spring for the ice to thaw. The crew blames the situation entirely on Captain Hudson's unhealthy obsession with the East. For John and Seth, just surviving the sea voyage will be a challenge, while Isabella and Richard struggle equally waiting for the ship to return.

Duble's approach to this novel is very effective, with each chapter rotating between the four different characters. She is very successful in creating four authentic voices, adapting her writing style to suit each character's own voice. The book jumps forward in time quite sporadically, which is a bit unsettling at times, when the reader is unsure if a few days have passed or a few months. However, Duble generally does a good job detailing all important events in each character's life.

QUEST is an intricate tale of wilderness, exploration, sailing, and spying that will educate readers while leaving them breathless for more. ( )
  GeniusJen | Oct 12, 2009 |
  highlandreviews | Jan 13, 2009 |
The year is 1610 and 17-year-old John Hudson has just set off with his father Henry Hudson to find a passage to the east. Young Richard Hudson has been left home with mother, begging for credit when the ship does not return on time. Isabella is in love with John but cannot marry a lowly sailor so she spies on the Dutch, hoping to gain knowledge of their maps and raise her family's stature. And Seth is a first-time sailor on Hudson's ship, green first with seasickness and then with disgust as events unfold. It will be a rocky journey for all of them.

The alternating viewpoints kept things interesting, although it was a little hard to keep track of the passage of time. An author's note is included and appreciated, but I wish there had been a short introduction to set the stage. I ended up doing a little research just to figure out what was going on. Recommended for fans of historical fiction and adventure.

Read more on my blog:
http://abbylibrarian.blogspot.com/2008/11/book-review-quest_29.html ( )
  abbylibrarian | Nov 17, 2008 |
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Relates events of explorer Henry Hudson's final voyage in 1602 from four points of view, those of his seventeen-year-old son aboard ship, a younger son left in London, a crewmember, and a young English woman acting as a spy in Holland in hopes of restoring honor to her family's name.… (more)

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