Sunday, August 7, 2011

Review - Booksurfers: Treasure Island

The Eulogy (From the Publishers):
Jake, Becca, Ryan and Harriet are kidnapped by Dr Crookshanks and his accomplice, Professor Kaufman. Against their will, the gang have to jump 'into' the world’s best known adventure stories to steal important artefacts, using an incredible invention called the Nautilus. If they don't get what Crookshanks wants, what will he do to their parents? And what will Becca do without her dad's credit card?
Crookshanks explains that in order to keep their families safe, the children must bring him back the actual treasure map from Treasure Island. Their parents’ lives are in the hands of a complete madman! The Booksurfers have little time to argue. Before they know it, they are thrown into Treasure Island; they’re talking to Jim Hawkins, running away from pirates and risking their lives to get their hands on that map!
Ever wondered what it would be like to not just read a book, but actually experience it? Throughout these books you'll find something rather ingenious: hyperlinks. They're pretty easy to spot; look out for an underlined word or phrase or sentence. And whenever you see one, you can just click on it, and - KA-POW! - you'll be zipped into the actual book the Booksurfers are exploring at the exact point they are discovering it! Have fun tagging along; you never know what story you'll end up in next...

In A Nutshell: An extremely fun and clever idea that makes great use of the format and is a great way to introduce kids to classics.

Dearly Departed,
We are gathered here today to discuss Booksurfers: Treasure Island by David Gatward. Reading David Gatward's Booksurfers series was a new experience for me: not only is this the first time I've read an e-book on a mobile device, but it's also my first encounter with Treasure Island, which is one of those classics I've always wanted to read but have never got around to. But despite my lack of familiarity with RL Stevenson's tale of pirates and treasure, I never found this to be a disadvantage while reading Booksurfers, mostly due to Gatward's skill with storytelling. He knows exactly the right amount of detail to insert from the original texts to stop unfamiliar readers from getting lost, while at the same time preventing it from being needlessly explanatory for those readers who know the classic well. 

Jake, Ryan, Harriet and Becca are four characters whose personalities are very defined, making their interactions with both each other and the books they are thrown into very enjoyable. There are plenty of laughs here, particularly from Jake's snappy one-liners and Becca's constant preening and pouting.

It took me a little while to get a handle on the significance of the hyperlinks in the text, though I suspect this is more to do with my own inexperience with e-books. Once I realised that certain parts of the Booksurfers story link to parts of the original work (and in some cases, quote it word for word with some clever changes) I found this a very novel introduction to the text itself. By doing this, Gatward allows us to dip into parts of the original book (in this case Treasure Island) before returning back to the main storyline.

The Booksurfers storyline in itself would be excellent as a standalone, but I think it's the hyperlinking with the classics that makes this series really shine. It's an incredibly clever idea, and I can see it being a sneaky way for parents to get their kids onto classics - because younger readers will latch onto the great characters and evil villain storyline of Booksurfers, they'll definitely want to explore the original that the book was based on after they've finished (or even while they read it). I love what the e-book format has been able to achieve which would have been impossible in a paper book, and while the concept is an inventive one, it never takes away from the fact that in the end, these are some extremely entertaining stories!


  1. Hi! I saw your blog mentioned on "Becca's" blog about YA horror, on which I left a comment. I'm a horror fan so of course I had to come here! I really like the "Death Certificate" rating system! Ha! I've never seen that before!

    I noticed you reviewed ebooks, too. That's good. Moving with the future. ^_^

  2. P.S.
    As you may have guessed, I'm a YA writer. I have a ghost series. How can I get in touch with you?

    Thank you.
    My series is here:

    (I couldn't find contact info)

  3. Hi Alshia! Glad you like the blog, who is this mysterious Becca so I can thank her for directing readers my way?

    The book sounds great, can't wait until it's out. I've added it on Goodreads and tried to friend you on there but couldn't find your profile. If you're on there I'm under H.R. Harkness, look me up!

  4. Hi there! Thank you SO MUCH for your kindness! And I really appreciate your friendship on my blog! You're like, the only one so far. Ha ha! Hopefully that'll change as I branch out and meet beautiful people like you. Oh, the Goodreads? I just opened the account and it might not be properly set up yet or I'm on "probation"? Idk. The ghost story-Spirit Week-isn't up on Amazon yet either but will be (hopefully within the next week. Fingers & toes crossed). Took a break to work on a quick zombie novella/novelette that should be finished today and will most likely go up before Spirit Week! Ha ha!

    Your blog is so creepy! I love it!!

    Yours in horror,

  5. Oh! I forgot to say that I don't remember who she was-Becca. Unless I got her name wrong. I don't think she's American-she's either European or Canadian I think. Long, dark, wavy hair, fair complexion, red lipstick. She wrote a blog post about how the horror genre was so watered down these days. It was good. This was a newer post I think. She's heavily into horror like we are. Ha ha. I wish I could remember her blog. It was blogspot. Oh well. :/

    You seemed pretty close to her;)