Saturday, October 13, 2007

The Poseidon Adventure by Paul Gallico - RIP #4

The Poseidon Adventure by Paul Gallico
Copyright 1969
Penguin fiction
347 pages

What led you to pick up this book? I found a copy for $1 and waaaay back in the 1970's, I enjoyed the movie. Plus, the cover is a grabber. The poppets were transfixed.

Summarize the plot but don't give away the ending. When a cruise ship and freight hauler is flipped upside-down, a small group of passengers decide that in order to have a chance at survival they must climb to the ship's hull.

What did you like most about the book? The one truly frightening scene - right near the beginning - when the ship is hit by a large wave and turns over.

What did you think of the main character? This particular book had a cast of characters and the author did a lot of what writers call "head-hopping", moving from one character's viewpoint to another. I have to admit that, upon reflection, I didn't truly like any of them.

Share some quotes from the book.

When Scott (whose part was played by Gene Hackman in the original movie version) was trying to convince the passengers around him to climb upward, rather than just awaiting their fate:

Scott said, 'I have. Do you know the cause of death of most people who are either lost, shipwrecked or drowned in inhospitable country?'
'Panic,' Muller volunteered.
'No,' said Scott, 'apathy. Doing nothing, just plain quitting - giving up. The statistics show it. The records indicate that the mere action of keeping busy, trying to do something keeps people alive.'

Share a favorite scene from the book: Hmm, I already mentioned my favorite scene, so I'll tell you about the scene that made me want to throw the book against the wall. When a young member of the group disappears, his teenage sister, Susan, splits off to look for her brother and is raped in the corridor. The rapist is a young man from the crew and he splutters about thinking she was a stewardess (as if that makes a difference), panics and runs away. Before he leaves, Susan actually tries to stop him, saying it's okay and that she won't tell a soul. Oh, please!!!! I know a mere two people who have been raped; both attempted suicide and one succeeded. The one who did not succeed in taking her own life has continued to battle with depression and anger for over 40 years. I nearly gave up on the book because it made me furious the way the author diminished Susan's feelings. The only reason I continued was that, by that point, I'd made the decision to just get the book over with.

In general: The book was a huge disappointment. The characters were unlikable, vicious, bigoted, chauvinistic or wimps. Instead of banding together and cooperating fully to save their hides, they bickered and criticized each other. I could have read the first few chapters, enjoyed the one frightening scene and then quit and I would have been far better off.

2/5 - Don't waste your time.


  1. This sounds horrible! You know, it really makes me wonder if some people have any sense at all??? Why would you even write something like that (the rape scene)? I don't understand the purpose of taking a subject that affects people's lives in such a traumatic way and not only belittling it, but basically saying "oh, it's ok". That's just sickening! OK, well I won't be reading this one! But the popcorn cat book sounded good! So if this is your fourth read that means that you successfully completed the RIP Challenge! Congrats!

  2. Chris,

    It's worth skipping. I'll tell you what; I think that author was just clueless about emotions and I agree with you 100% - something so traumatic never, ever should be downplayed in fiction or anywhere else.

    The Popcorn book is cute - 7-11 age range, but age level doesn't faze either of us, does it? It's fun reading children's and YA books.

    Yeah, I've technically finished the RIP II. Thanks! I'm going to continue slotting in creepy or atmospheric books, for the rest of the month, because it's just so darn fun!!

  3. Two points here. The first one being this: I'm not sure when the book was written but since the movie came out in the 70's, it had to be a bit earlier. Rape was not thought of nor was it handled in the way it is now. Women didn't talk about being assaulted, there were not rape crisis centers. Not that it makes the sense any better but...

    And two, human nature is such that we bicker instead of doing the best thing. That goes doubly in the time of a crisis. Contrary to popular belief, not everyone rises to the occasion, ya know.

    Those points aside - thanks for the review. It's one of the few books you've reviewed that I haven't wanted to run out and get.


  4. I think I would have wanted to throw the book at the wall at the same point you did, Nancy. I'm sorry this one turned out to be a dud.

    On the plus side, I loved the photo of your poppets looking up at the book.

  5. CJ,

    Personally, I don't think the author had a grip on emotions at all. The rape scene angered me because of the way her feelings were downplayed and I was aware that was, in part, a product of the time period. But, I thought all the inner monologues were off-base. I just couldn't imagine people thinking and acting the way they did in that book. Yes, the worst comes out in some people. But, in that particular group, the worst really came out in everyone.

  6. Wendy,

    Thanks. It was definitely a dud and I always end up wondering why I waste my time finishing the awful ones, but the truth is that I can't bear not to finish a book to which I've already dedicated so much time. Around 100 pages is the point at which I can't stand not to finish. I've got to get over that!

    The poppets thank you. They were thrilled to come out of the purse for a pose. I took that photo at last week's swim meet, on the deck behind the natatorium. They also watched for dragonflies (you can see the photos at my poppet blog - Poppet's Magnificent Traveling Adventures).

  7. Wow, Chris is right...this does sound horrible! I definitely won't bother.

  8. Andi,

    It's what I'd call a "skipster". ;)

  9. Hi, Nancy! The book doesn't sound so great but I love your new reviewing format, it's so easy to read!!! I hope you won't mind if I borrow it once in a while?

  10. Lotus,

    I snitched that reviewing format from Dewey, so I don't mind a bit! It actually makes reviewing much quicker and easier. I haven't had time to chatter, the way I normally do and that's why I started using the format - not intending to do so for long. But, I think I'll continue because it saves time!

    The book is definitely worth skipping. I think the only one of my recent reads you might enjoy is The Accidental Mother by Rowan Coleman. That review should be up, soon. :)

  11. Was the the same movie, "Poseidon" that recently came out? I'm sorry it wasn't very good. I have a difficult time reading a book where I don't like any of the characters. One of my pet peeves, actually.

  12. Trish,

    The recent "Poseidon" movie was a remake of the 70's version and I'm sure it's *based* on the same story. I haven't actually seen that one, myself, so I don't know how closely it follows the original movie or the book.

    That's one of my pet peeves, too. Even if a character is seriously flawed, I think there has to be something about them that makes you care what happens or a book just doesn't work for the reader.

  13. Neither remake follows the book or older movie much at all.

    1. I'm not surprised, although I don't know that I knew there was a remake. If I've heard of it, I've forgotten about it. It's been nearly 11 years since I wrote this review but I remember the book well enough to know it's quite different from the original movie. I'll probably always be haunted by the scene where the few survivors pass a bunch of people going the opposite direction. I recall they had kind of a zombie look about them, following blindly and unwilling to listen to the people going up toward the hull. It would be fun to watch it again and see how close my memory is to reality.


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