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Jason's Gold / by Will Hobbs ; narrated by Boyd Gaines

Jason's Gold - Will Hobbs

Jason's Gold wasn't a bad story about the Klondike Gold Rush, and as a Seattleite I have to say that people here are particularly attuned to that gold rush.  Our city would have never become anything but a backwater without that event.  It put Seattle on the map.  For that reason, I'd particularly recommend this book to kids who live in the Puget Sound area.


Jason's Gold is very much a story in the same vein as the classic adventure stories like The Call of the Wild, and White Fang (in fact, Hobbs pays homage to Jack London in this book), Huckleberry Finn, and Treasure Island.  It is above all else an adventure story, but it doesn't quite strike the same chord as those greater adventure tales do.


It is clear that Hobbs has done his research and has written a nice piece of historical fiction.  That is well done.  Unfortunately, Jason's Gold lacks what those other great adventure stories I mentioned above have in abundance; the ability to pull at your heart.  Generally speaking, Jason's adventures, especially initially, don't have much to them.  He moves quickly through them, and we never quite get a chance to be really affected by who Jason meets, or what Jason experiences (with one notable exception, but I can't talk about it because it would be a spoiler).  Jason does see and experience some horrible things, and it's not that those passages aren't well written.  It's just that Jason moves through them so quickly that there isn't a chance for the reader to let the experiences sink in.  Because of this rapidity of pace, the adventure is muted in exchange for historical reporting.


Still, the book was enjoyable, and very accessible to kids between 5th and 8th grade, maybe even 9th grade.  There are some pretty gruesome passages.  The Klondike Gold Rush lead to nothing but violent death for some people and many animals, and Will Hobbs makes that point quite clearly.  Kids who are more sensitive might find those particular passages disturbing.  But this book is based on an historical event, and history is seldom sterile.  Kids looking for a historical fiction adventure book could do worse than Jason's Gold.