Book Review: Calamity Jack

June 3, 2010

I think of myself as a criminal mastermind…with an unfortunate amount of bad luck.

Calamity Jack, the sequel to Rapunzel’s Revenge [my review is here], by Shannon & Dean Hale and Nathan Hale starts with a little background information about Jack and his history as a thief as well as how he came to be on the run when he hooked up with Rapunzel.  Once that’s out of the way, the story picks up right where Rapunzel’s Revenge ended.

What I Liked

– Jack is Native American!  Or Native wherever the book is set.  I didn’t realize that in the first book because I just assumed he was, ya know, weathered.  Because of the whole Wild West (or wherever it is) thing.  What’s really interesting about Jack’s ethnicity is that it explicitly situates him as a trickster figure, which is really kind of cool if you consider the Native American storytelling tradition.

– I liked the character development in this book.  It was nice to learn so much more about Jack, his past, and his family.

– The new characters were also a lot of fun, especially Jack’s old road dog, his mom, and the villain.  FEE FIE FOE FUM.  The way the beanstalk story was handled was very inventive.

– Jack and Rapunzel’s relationship is explored a little more here, and it’s good to see how well he knows her, even if he is clueless about how to express how much he likes her.

– The romantic rival is handled nicely and isn’t annoying at all.

– There’s the same level of humor here.  I found myself laughing out loud quite a few times.

What I Didn’t Like

– The plot is kind of hard to explain.  I mean, yes, Jack is trying to save his mom from the evil giants and restore order back to the city, but everything beyond that is kind of like…what?  That doesn’t mean it’s not a fun ride, but it’s not as straightforward as Rapunzel’s story was.

– I just wasn’t as invested in this story as I was with Rapunzel’s.  I think it’s because Jack, great character though he is, is just not as interesting to me as Rapunzel.  I really enjoyed all of the parts with the two of them interacting, but when she was off-page, I wasn’t quite as into the story.  So I think it’s just a case of Rapunzel being a better character.

In conclusion:  Not as sharp as Rapunzel’s Revenge, but still a fun, breezy read.

YA Reading Challenge:  20/75; POC Reading Challenge:  12/15

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  1. Ari

    I thought these two books sounded like a lot of fun. I love fairy tale retellings especaily when they're funny (I've only read 2 and neither of them was that funny. They were lovely, but I could use some humorous takes too).

    I didn't know the main character was Native American. Although Shannon Hale writes diverse characters so I shouldn't be surprised.

    You're almost done with the POC Reading challenge 🙂

    BTW I gave you an award!

    • theenglishist

      Jack's Native American heritage is not touched on at all in Rapunzel's Revenge, so it was a really nice surprise to see that he is Native American in his own book.

      I am almost done! I'm going to probably go up to the next level. I aimed low (for me) just because I am all over the place with my reading at any given time. I'm also way behind on my reviews, but that's neither here nor there…

      Thanks for the award! Very sweet. Yay.


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