Tuesday, 22 December 2020

Book: 'Volcano Adventure' (Adventure) (1956) by Willard Price

'Volcano Adventure' continues on directly from 'Underwater Adventure', with the 'Lively Lady' being taken over by noted volcanologist Dr Dan Adams, who is intent on doing a survey of the volcanoes of the western Pacific. What impact does this change of director have on the story? Well, it gets very hot very frequently.

One of the major distinguishing features of 'Volcano Adventure', the fourth episode in the 'Adventure' series, is that the mentor figure this time is not exactly reliable. He is in fact prone to mental episodes, and begins to distrust the two Hunts over the course of the novel. He's never an outright antagonist, but for a while he's not a friend either. That is unusual for the series to date, and interesting. Why does he freeze up for minutes on end, wake up screaming on one occasion, and go a bit loco while scuba diving on another? The lack of an overt villain in 'Volcano Adventure' is refreshing, probably because of all the volcano related peril already present. Yes, gentle readers, volcanoes are dangerous. It's also dangerous to punch a tiger shark in the belly, but I think we already knew that. Also, any story with a diving bell trip into the crater of an active volcano is definitely sporting some major adventure credentials.

The mini-tour around the South Seas, and the visit to Japan, is all nicely different too, and there are very few negatives to point out. Hal definitely gets the majority of the page time on this occasion, with younger Roger taking the back seat, but that could turn around in future instalments.

How could Price squeeze any more peril into the following books? How? Having asked that, the next book is 'Whale Adventure', which is definitely set to be the most problematic of the whole series as whaling is not even remotely acceptable any more. I've never read it, have no idea what's in it, and can only prepare for a rough ride.


Book: 'Underwater Adventure' (Adventure) (1954) by Willard Price

Go, go, Hal and Roger! In this third instalment of the classic 'Adventure' series by Willard Price, we continue the maritime voyage begun in 'South Sea Adventure', but this time with a profound submarine component. However, we do still have a finkish villain in the form of SK 'Skink' Inkham, a pretender to the leadership of the mission. There is a lot to learn in these adventure novels, despite their antiquity and focus on being juvenile fiction, and a lot to really be surprised by.

First of all, this time we gets lot of gadgets. There are snorkels, aqualungs, sea sleds, diving bells and just a little bit more. Secondly, we have octopi, sharks, sunken treasure, submarine raiders, and treachery most vile. When I say 'vile', I really mean it, as the boys' mentor this time meets a very cruel death at the hands of a ruthless villain. Inkham is definitely one of the nastier antagonists in the run, and one who rather improbably got away with trying to murder a teacher at school with a deadly snake. Hal's similar experience is very tense here.

Not only do we have a lot of underwater adventures in this instalment, but we also have sunken treasure. Hurrah! Nothing is better than a sunken Spanish galleon, although on this occasion it is trumped by a typhoon. What, you were already happy with sunken treasure? Ha! The wall of water puts all that to shame! Spoilers? Ha!

It's lovely stuff. The resolution with the antagonists seems a bit predictable and glued on, but that's a minor defect. Roll on, book four, even if it does bring the potential problem that is the fifth book one step closer...