source for free and affordable eBooks


Powered by FreeFind

Site search
Web search

    Review of TOM SWIFT AND HIS MOTOR-BOAT by Victor Appleton


    Grosset & Dunlap, 1910

    Young inventor Tom Swift enters an auction for a motorboat damaged in his previous adventure. Despite bidding by a mysterious stranger and by Tom's rival, Andy Foger, Tom is manages the high bid and becomes proud owner of a ten horsepower boat. He plans to use his engineering/inventing skills to increase the machine's power, possibly allowing him to win races, and to take his father and best friend Ned Newton on a vacation around Lake Carlopa.

    Before Tom can put his plans into action, someone breaks into his boat, for unknown purposes--the first in a pattern of breakins that continue through the story. On his way home from the auction, Tom is nearly sabotaged by Andy Foger who drags a log across the road in a location where Tom could have been badly hurt.

    Saved by African-American handiman, Eradicate Sampson, Tom 'thrashes' Andy, fixes the boat, and sets off on his vacation--only to have his father, Barton Swift's workshops burglarized--by the dreaded Happy Harry Gang. Tom now must track down the gang (who also steal his beloved motor-boat). Meanwhile, Tom finds himself increasingly attracted to pretty Mary Nestor.

    In the second book in the Tom Swift series, author Victor Appleton (see more reviews of novels by Appleton) continues his adventures, facing the 'Happy Harry Gang," while accumulating more mechanical gadgets. As before, Appleton gives us an intriguing glimpse into the United States of a century ago. Inventions centered around the mechanical--adjusting the spark in an engine, creating gyroscopes or propellers, rather than around the electronic (or biological) which would be more common in our era. Although Appleton manages to avoid the most offensive of the African-American 'words,' his single African-American character, Eradicate, is written in a completely stereotypical fashion. In Tom Swift's world, women are regarded as pleasant but mechanically inept, problems are solved with fists, and the police can be counted on to bumble even the simplest tasks.

    It isn't great literature. The writing is clunky, the dialogue stilted, and the characters flat. Still, there's something about Appleton's stories that catch the reader's attention and involve us--almost against our will.

    Two Stars

    Reviewed 10/08/06

    TOM SWIFT AND HIS MOTOR-CYCLE is available for FREE.

    What do you think? Too generous? Too stingy? Or did I miss the entire point? Send your comments to Give me the okay to use your name and I'll publish all the comments that fit (and don't use unprintable language).

    Check out the Alexa toolbar. It blocks pop-ups (you get to choose), it's free, and it tells you about what websites are popular and who owns them.