Throwback Thursday: Shock Wave by Clive Cussler with BONUS commentary!

I've been having such a fun conversation on Goodreads with some people who stumbled onto my old review of this book.  I was on a minor quest to read the Dirk Pitt™ books because ... I really liked the Sahara movie because it was fun and funny and I knew that Cussler hated it, so I wanted to see if his writing was oh-so-much better than the banter Dirk and Al in the movie ("Maybe ya gotta small head."  "I dunno.  Somebody woulda told me.").

NO.  I mean, sweet Moses who supposes his toeses are roses, what is this dreck?  I mean, it was mildly entertaining dreck, but I wasn't being entertained by the story; rather the bizarre characters, Dirk's ability to have any woman melt at his feet, and his seeming immunity to STIs made me laugh and cringe simultaneously.

So here's my original review:

"The green-and-yellow beech-leaf sail filled out like a woman's tattooed breast"

This is possibly one of my *favorite* quotes from Shock Wave . I had to reread that sentence a few times before I could actually believe it had been written, evidently in all earnestness and seriousness. As far as I know, and I'd like to think that I have this on good authority, women's breasts do not inflate and billow like sails. Also, why a "tattooed breast"? Do tattooed breasts behave differently from non-tattooed ones (no experience here, sorry)?

For the most part, I do give credit to Cussler and/or his editor for removing most of the mind-boggingly weird and usually exploitative sexytimes so oft present in the earlier Dirk Pitt novels. However, I do feel bad for Dirk, because I think he probably now has every STD known to man and then some. Poor guy. Yet, while the book was blessedly free of Cussler's sexytime writing, we still get some really strange, what the frijole moments. One is noted above. Describing the obligatory love interest during a car chase, Cussler offers this gem of insight into the female mind: "Whatever it was, the thrill, the fury of the sounds, the speed, she was not the first woman to fall under the exciting spell of adventure. And what such women desire on the side was a good man to share it with." I kid you not, I rolled my eyes when I read that. Literally. 

As other readers have noted, this is a very James Bond-esque Dirk Pitt novel. Dirk, of course, escapes from certain death about 86 times in the novel, MacGyvers gadgets up the wazoo, and goes up against Dr. No an evil diamond merchant on a secluded island in the middle of nowhere, guarded by a sea serpent that eats great white sharks for funsies. Arthur Dorsett has nefarious plans to do ... well, nefarious things. People and sea life are also dying like crazy from a mysterious "plague" all over the Pacific Ocean. NUMA to the rescue!

The dialogue between Dirk and Al is pretty snappy, and made me smile. Cussler needs to cut down on the weird generalizing remarks, and I think the whole intro section was totally unnecessary. In general, I like the Dirk Pitt novels that involve him looking for a treasure or sunken ship, and not so much the ones where he, Al, and Admiral Sandecker save the world (again).

What really made me laugh was that a fellow reader from France was relived to find that it wasn't just a poor translation, but a poorly written book.  I made a wild stab at translating the "tattooed breast" quote and I wasn't too far off!  Thanks to Eole2000, I know know that it reads:
"La voile en feuilles de hêtre jaunes et vertes était gonflée comme le sein tatoué d'une femme tandis que le bateau sautait d'une vague à l'autre, telle une mule faisant la course avec des pur-sang.""

Which was actually pretty close to my winging-it French translation.  May the deity of your choice have mercy on the poor translator who had to work on this book.  


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