As part of the Reading Ahead Challenge, I’ve been choosing books from our Quick Reads section that whisk me far away to distant places for marvellous adventures. My second book for the challenge is Gold of the Gods, book one of the Mission Survival series, by survival expert Bear Grylls.
Beck has been travelling around the world with his parents his whole life, learning to survive in extreme environments where most kids spent their summer holidays at the beach. Beck thinks a trip to Colombia with his uncle will be a nice relaxing getaway. However, when his uncle and the Mayor are kidnapped, it’s up to Beck and the Mayor’s twin teenage children, Marco and Christina to save the day. They are convinced that this has something to do with the Mayor’s determination to discover the lost city of El Dorado, the fabled ‘city of gold’ sought by Spanish explorers.
It’s lucky that Beck is so knowledgeable about survival skills, as the trio have to wrestle a shark, escape a jaguar and navigate a jungle filled with danger. Will they be in time to save Beck’s uncle and the Mayor?
Gold of the Gods is an exciting adventure story with lots of survival tips (should you ever find yourself stranded in the jungle) and an underlying message about how the conquering Spanish damaged the culture of the indigenous Kogi people in their search for El Dorado, the lost City of Gold. Marco and Christina are following in the steps of their ancestor, an explorer who originally claimed to have discovered El Dorado, using their famous family motto ‘Lost no more’ as inspiration. However, as Marco and Christina are faced with the history of their family’s cruelty and disrespect to the local Kogi tribes, their family motto takes on a chilling new meaning.
While Gold of the Gods follows the same pattern as lots of pulp adventure stories created by writers like Edgar Rice Burroughs and H. Rider Haggard, instead of the ending being about finding fabulous riches in unexplored lands, the treasure they walk away with is greater understanding, much more meaningful in the modern world.
If you like pulpy tales of adventure in far-off places…
King Kong (DVD Lobby 791.43) is a remake of the classic 1933 adventure film. Set in 1933 as a tribute to the original film, an ambitious Hollywood director takes his crew to Skull Island, but they encounter dinosaurs, giant spiders and other terrifying creatures that turn their jaunt into a fight for their lives. They manage to trap Kong, a giant gorilla, and display him in New York as the eighth wonder of the world…but, of course, a combination of a giant gorilla, a screaming actress and the Empire State Building is a recipe for one of the most iconic (and tragic) moments in cinema history!
Dive into Jumanji (DVD Lobby 791.43), starring the late Robin Williams as Alan Parrish, a man who was trapped inside a magical board game as a child and who has grown up in the jungle contained inside Jumanji. When two teenagers find the game, they play it without realising it will release Alan. They realise they must finish playing the game (releasing all kinds of jungle dangers and a big-game hunter along the way) to restore everything to how it should have been and give Alan his life back. This is a magical adventure that brings the jungle into everyday life and remains a classic of 90’s fantasy.
Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (Norfolk House 791.433) is a Studio Ghibli anime about a future in which the princess of the Valley of the Wind seeks to understand the dangerous inhabitants of the Toxic Jungle, created by the weapons used in an apocalyptic war. It’s a great adventure story and as beautiful as all Studio Ghibli films, as well as a parable about the importance of protecting the environment that is still extremely relevant today.