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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Review: Captain Disaster by Del Shannon

This book used to be called Kevin's Point of View and I reviewed it some time ago. But the book has been re-named and given a new look, so I thought I would update and repost my previous review with all the new book info...

Captain Disaster
(Book One: The Influxitron)
by Del Shannon
Story Arts Media
Purchase: Amazon
Kevin Tobin is an ordinary twelve-year old dealing with the aftermath of his father’s tragic death in a mountain biking accident near their home in Boulder, Colorado. To escape from his emotional turmoil, Kevin has developed his imagination into a dangerous foil and a powerful ally. While he antagonizes his sister through his superhero antics, his ability to escape inside a character’s head becomes critical to his survival after his life is once-again turned upside down a year after his father’s death.A mysterious package arrives in the mail, Kevin and his best friend are hunted down by a ruthless villain set upon world domination, and after enlisting Kevin’s teenage sister and her pizza-delivery boyfriend in a battle for control over time itself, the secret of Kevin’s whole existence is revealed to him by a source we never expected.

When author Del Shannon approached me to review his book, I was immediately drawn to the book’s synopsis. Kevin’s imagination filled world and aching grief pulled at my heart and I just knew this would be a story worth reading. And I was right. Captain Disaster is a fun, fast paced, exciting story with a lot of imagination and a lot of heart.

Kevin Tobin lost his father a year ago, and deals with his pain, anger, and loss by escaping to a fantasy world where he becomes a myriad of heroes. These fantasies are very real to Kevin and have begun to disrupt his and his family’s life. But Kevin’s biggest adventure doesn’t happen inside his imagination, but in his real life. Upon receiving a mysterious device by mistake in the mail, Kevin and his best friend Tony find themselves pursed by a ruthless bad guy and embark on a thrilling and surprising adventure. And along the way Kevin must finally face the loss of his father.

This book is so many things. It’s a face paced, action packed adventure. It’s an imaginative and creative fantasy with sci-fi elements. And, it’s an honest and sensitive emotional look at a young boy’s grief. Together, these three facets blend and intertwine producing a really fun, delightful and touching read.

Kevin is one of those characters that you just can’t help but like. He’s funny, clever, incredibly imaginative, and honestly observant. He is also very self aware. He knows that he isn’t dealing with his father’s death very well and understands that his imaginative escape isn’t real, and he isn’t ashamed to admit these truths.  The effects of his father’s death are palpable, and Kevin’s pain and longing jumped off the page and straight into my heart. I found myself wanting to reach right back through the pages and hug him. But at the same time, I found myself enjoying his fantasies immensely. The way he could change from being simply Kevin to being Captain Disaster or Marine Boy or some other character so quickly and effectively was spellbinding to read.

Tony is a great sidekick of sorts; he’s sarcastically funny, a little dramatic, but very loyal. The friendship between these two young boys feels genuine and realistic. They squabble and snap at each other, but at the end of the day they have each other’s backs. I really loved the way they interacted with one another. The main baddie, Devin, is perfectly villainous. He adds a great spark of danger and darkness.

The adventure Kevin and Tony embark on is full of thrilling excitement and gasp worthy surprises. Along the way, Shannon fills this journey with laugh out loud exchanges between Kevin and Tony, intense moments of peril, and a few touching confessions. I was completely and easily swept away into this adventure and found myself quickly turning pages, breathless to see what happened next…and something unexpected or exciting always happened next.

The other journey in this book, the emotional one, was obviously written with a great deal of care, thought, and subtlety. And Kevin’s pain isn’t the only pain explored. Shannon weaves the emotional pain of other characters-Mrs. Tobin, Betsy Tobin, and even the villain Devin-carefully and delicately throughout the book.

The idea of the mysterious device, the Influxitron, a unique time machine of sorts, is brilliant and highly original. The significance that this time machine has for so many characters is incredibly moving and insightful.

The ending of this book took me on quite the ride…a very literal ride too! There were some fun and jaw dropping twists and turns that simply delighted me.

MY FINAL THOUGHTS: This book is awesome! Captain Disaster is a really fun, witty, engaging read that left me both happy and thoughtful. It has plenty of thrills, action, and humor that will have readers of all ages captivated and never bored. This is definitely a book that is worth reading and sharing.


Del Shannon
Del Shannon is a full-time civil engineer who designs and constructs (and sometimes even deconstructs) dams around the world. He is also a writer. When not working on dams he has written award-winning essays, newspaper columns, and children’s stories. His first children’s book was the serialized novella The Map, published in several newspapers. Captain Disaster is his second children’s book, and first full-length novel. He lives with his family in Colorado, plays intramural soccer on three different teams, and always seems to be daydreaming of Captain Disaster.

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