The Secret Journeys of Jack London, Book One: The Wild Paperback – Feb 28 2012
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“A masterful mix of gold, cold, supernatural creatures, and dread magic makes this a great action adventure story.” (Garth Nix, author of the Abhorsen Trilogy)
“A great old-school adventure novel and the best use of the Wendigo legend I’ve ever read.” (Mike Mignola, creator of Hellboy)
A rollicking adventure tale for modern-day readers, depicting with great awe the unforgiving, and yet beautiful, conditions Jack confronts. There is enough biographical reality to drive curious readers into sampling the works of the actual London while they eagerly await another chapter. That is a fire worth starting. (Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA) (Starred Review))
Golden and Lebbon write with a gritty assurance that brings the fantasy elements-most notably, Jack’s multiple face-offs with the mythic Wendigo-down to earth. This first chapter kicks the door open for almost anything in book two. (ALA Booklist)
About the Author
Christopher Golden is the New York Times bestselling author of Of Saints and Shadows, The Myth Hunters, The Boys Are Back in Town, and Snowblind. He has edited the anthologies The New Dead, The Monster's Corner, and 21st Century Dead. Baltimore; or, The Steadfast Tin Soldier and the Vampire, cowritten with Mike Mignola, launched the Eisner Award–nominated comic book series Baltimore.
Greg Ruth (Illustrator) has created countless comic books for Dark Horse and other publishers, and has worked on videos for Prince and Rob Thomas, among others. He has also illustrated many children’s books as well as graphic novels. He lives with his family in Massachusetts.
Tim Lebbon is the author of nearly thirty books, including the island and, with Chris Golden, the acclaimed Hidden Cities series. He is the winner of numerous British Fantasy Awards and a Bram Stoker Award. He lives in the Welsh countryside with his wife and children.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The beginning of the story is loosely based on the actual events of London's life. Spurred on by the Klondike Gold Rush of the 1890s, teenage Jack and his brother-in-law Shepard venture up to the Yukon Territory hoping to strike it rich. The two make it as far as Dyea, but when the ailing Shepard lays eyes on the grueling Chilkoot pass, he decides to head back to San Francisco, leaving young Jack on his own. Jack, far from disappointed at this unexpected parting of the ways, relishes his newfound independence. He soon hooks up with two companions, and together the three embark on the arduous journey up river to Dawson. From that point the plot departs from the semi-biographical narrative, and the authors take the story in a completely different and unexpected direction.
Though London was a strident Darwinist, atheist, and rationalist, he was not averse to introducing supernatural elements into his work as long as it resulted in a good story. The most obvious examples of this are his novel The Star Rover and the novella "Planchette". In this book, however, Golden and Lebbon step way beyond London's paranormal comfort zone and take it to a whole new level. Almost every chapter, much like the lion's share of young adult literature today, is loaded with supernatural occurrences and superhuman feats. The genre of wilderness adventure has all but disappeared from bookstore shelves in the past few decades, while vampires, werewolves, and zombies have multiplied like rabbits. If introducing a few monsters and spirits into the wilderness is what it takes to breathe new life into this underappreciated genre, then more power to the authors for trying. Golden and Lebbon have done their research well. Not only are they well versed in London's life and work, they also make creative use of the Native American myth of the Wendigo and the Russian folktale of the forest spirit known as the Leshii. They have created a very original story that definitely departs from London's familiar territory, yet they still manage to vividly and contagiously convey his spirit of adventure and his love for the wild.
"Young adult" is a good label for this book, as it contains quite a bit of violence and gore, and a hint of sex. It's probably too mature for a junior high audience. Hopefully this book will succeed in turning some young readers on to London's classic works like The Call of the Wild and The Iron Heel. I wish the authors the best of luck with this series. This book, by the way, would make an excellent movie. It's about time Jack London became a household name again.
I really didn't know what to expect from Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon's first book about Jack London. The Secret Journeys of Jack London: The Wild is listed as a YA novel, but it's a sophisticated read and very authentic. Of course, the authors bent real history in interesting ways and threw in some twists and turns that were totally their own.
Since Golden is a fellow author on the Buffy the Vampire series and Lebbon is known for his work in the horror and dark fantasy fields, I'd expected a lot of supernatural threats early on in the novel. They don't come till later, though, and that may be off-putting to some YA readers who picked this book up thinking that seeing Jack London going up against truly "wild" creatures would be awesome.
I don't know how many kids know who Jack London is these days. My thirteen year old doesn't and he's well read. I grew up on London, and his book, Before Adam, was one of my first loves - rivaling the Tarzan series that I'd just discovered.
Golden and Lebbon's book is more solid adventure story than supernatural. At least, it is at first. Then they dip into some eerie twists that reminded me of a lot of fantasy tropes, like Robert E. Howard's "The Frost-Giant's Daughter" and staples of the northern mythology involving the Wendigo. This was good stuff and I enjoyed it immensely.
The thing that I liked the most, oddly enough, may be the thing that young readers find least appealing. I loved the adventure, the measure of a man taken against the savage loneliness of the wilderness. I don't think today's urban-oriented young readers are going to quite grasp the intensity and threat that Golden and Lebbon unleash on the early pages of Jack's journey through the Yukon during the gold rush days. But for me, the narrative was a delight, a return to my younger years reading London's own novels about the area.
The idea of pairing young Jack London with a wolf spirit that guides him and defends him is pure genius. There could not be another animal familiar for him. Another thing that the authors do well is show the camaraderie of men, of the savage violence that brings them together and separates them as well.
I don't know what the authors have planned for the second book, but they have a wealth of material to play with. London traveled the world a lot and did numerous things. I'm looking forward to the continued secret journeys.
Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon have found a way to tap into that joy I felt as a child reading those Jack London stories with "The Secret Journeys of Jack London: The Wild", and true to form Golden has thrown in a little of the supernatural for that extra twist. From the moment you dive into this book, you are brought into a world so fantastic, yet steeped the familiar lore and history of those adventurous mad men, journeying to the frozen wilds in search of gold. This forbidden text, the never-before-seen journal of a seventeen year old Jack London, gives Golden and Lebbon the means to play around with reality and history, and it never loses you or gets dull.
When I was first reading London at young age, I could only imagine what kind of man you would have to be to withstand the rigors of the Yukon in search of gold. Now that I am older, I find myself thinking only a seventeen year old could have that youthful confidence and sense of adventure to take that journey.
The blend of the adventure a genre with a little of the supernatural horror, in the form of facing off against the legendary Wendigo, is a joy to behold, and I have read few writers who can pace an adventure the way Christopher Golden can. I cannot bring bring myself to spoil this for you, but Jack London is eventually accompanied by wolf spirit guide, and it is so...perfect.
The book is aimed at younger readers, and rightly so, younger readers need to know about Jack London. A seventeen year old Jack London is clearly more accessible to a younger crowd (not that he lived to be an old man) so if this gives London a whole new audience, all the better.
If you enjoy an old school adventure that tugs at something deep inside you, do yourself a favor and give it a read.
The dynamic writing duo of Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon - who have brought us the entertaining "Hidden Cities" series with The Map of Moments and Mind the Gap - seek to answer this question now with a new series: The Secret Journeys of Jack London. How did Jack London become the great writer he was? Through unforgettable experiences, but these stories are the ones he could never quite explain; the ones he could never write about.
In the first book, The Wild, Jack London is a seventeen year-old boy traveling to the frozen wilds of Canada via Alaska, venturing into the dangerous Yukon Territory to play a part in the gold rush. London quickly makes some new friends who struggle to travel along a wild river with raging rapids and the onset of an early winter, spend their time starving in an isolated cabin, and discover the existence of a gold-planning slave trade. Then things take a turn for the supernatural and London finds himself on a number of occasions face to face with the fearful Wendigo.
Golden and Lebbon start out a little slow, keeping things normal and adventurous, but then things take a turn for the outright fantastic, with uses folklore and myth. Readers of any age will be able to identify with this fun-loving, adventurous character who - fantasy elements aside - could well be telling true tales of his possible life.
Originally written on April 10, 2011 ©Alex C. Telander.
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I wouldn't be surprised if this goes on to become a successful property in other media. Flaccid writing hasn't stopped many other YA novels from becoming extremely lucrative. And I hope there are some members of the target audience who aren't sensitive to the execution and who will instead enjoy the book on its conceptual merits: wolves, Wendigos, forest gods, the wild. These are cool things, and a young, fictionalized Jack London is the perfect vehicle to tie them all together. But as far as vehicles go, this one's built like a Yugo.
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