Titanic #3: S.O.S

Titanic #3: S.O.S. by Gordon Korman

As the Titanic is taking on water, the story of its passengers is broken up by occasional reports from nearby ships.  The entirety of the book is devoted to the sinking of the Titanic, the reaction of her passengers, their attempts at survival and the eventual rescue of the few lucky souls that made it.

Although Korman does maintain a feeling of drama throughout, I found the recounting much less thorough than what I’ve read in many other Titanic books.  Once the ship capsizes, Korman’s descriptions turn to what is happening in the water, which clearly, isn’t good.  He offers a fairly detailed description of the floating dead bodies and the desperate scramble to stay alive by any means necessary.  This is the most compelling of the three books, a page turner, but that doesn’t stop the murderer storyline from recurring.

Possibly in an effort to avoid unsettling his readers too much, only one of the main characters is killed off.  Few others that we personally meet suffer the fate that takes the majority of Titanic passengers and crew.  It’s a way to keep the death and dying at an emotional distance from the reader.  I’m not sure how I feel about it.  On the one hand, the descriptions of the dead and dying are plenty graphic, on the other, readers are shielded from the emotional toll of this.  It seems to allow readers the thrill of horror without the painful reality of it all.

Like the other two in the series, I recommend this for students in Grades 4 and up who can handle the content.  At this point I must also offer that while I believe this series might be an entrance point in interesting children in the Titanic, it won’t satisfy the curiosity of those who are already fascinated by the tragedy since its focus is more on the passengers we meet than on the ship in general.

Sex, Nudity, Dating – None.
Profanity – “for God’s sake,”
Death, Violence and Gore – An officer uses a pistol to keep some people from boarding life boats.  Some people choose to go down with the ship.  A boy is hit in the face with a length of wood and is bleeding as a result.  A boy contemplates murdering a murder but decides to let him drown instead. Paddy still believes Daniel was murdered. Because the ship is going down, there’s a sort of near constant discussion of who will survive and who will go down with the ship.  An officer shoots at a stowaway.  The ship’s sinking is described in detail, as is the drowning of many people.  The screams of the dying are recounting.  The way that some people had to push others off in order to survive themselves is also explained.  One man swims amid the dead, floating bodies.   Someone engages in a fight in the water with a murderer who is trying to share his float.  A man tries to strangle a girl. He is hit over the head with a glass jar.  Dead bodies are propped among the living.  Dead bodies are described.  One of the main characters dies.
Drugs, Alcohol and Smoking – A baker has survived several hours in the freezing cold water and reeks of whiskey.
Frightening or Intense Things – The ship is sinking.

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