Book Review: Naked and Marooned by Ed Stafford

Naked and Marooned by Ed Stafford
Published by Virgin Books Limited on 2014-06-05
Genres: Biographical, Survival Stories
Pages: 320
Format: eARC
Source: Virgin Books

‘I stood on the beach truly alone for the first time. I would not see another person for sixty days. I was on an uninhabited tropical island and I had nothing with me to help me survive. No food, no equipment, no knife and not even any clothes. All I had was my camera kit so that I could intimately record my self-inflicted sentence.’ What if you were abandoned on a tropical island with no food or water, no basic equipment, not even a knife, and no clothes – could you survive?

I received this book for free from Virgin Books in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

My Review:

It’s only natural that since I am fascinated by survival stories in fiction that I should also look to some crazy real-life stories.  That’s exactly what caught my eye when I saw Ed Stafford’s book.  NAKED AND MAROONED is a heck of a title and a little bit of marketing genius.  Who could pass something like that up?  Then, upon further reading, I noticed that he spent his time in the South Pacific and, given my recent time spent in the Pacific, I had to know what it was like.

I’ve never been a survivalist. I cringe away from bugs, scream at snakes and rats, and would not be able to spend the night outside even if you promised me a really, really big paycheck at the end of it all.  Knowing this, I opened up Stafford’s story fully aware that there would be parts of his story that would have me gagging at the thought of it all and I was not mistaken.  Stafford does not hesitate to talk about the most minute detail of his experience – from the shape and texture of his “poos” to the day in and day out eating of raw snails.  Yes. Raw snails.  Gag.

Still, it was what I was expecting from a survival book and, I’m sad to say, that the first few weeks were the most interesting because he was actually exploring and learning his new surroundings.  Where the book faltered and eventually died off for me was when he got into the building mode.  From shelters to traps to rafts, I just could not picture what he was doing and, I think unless one was very “build-mode” oriented, not many people would be able to see it well either.  I got lost in descriptions of “Y” shaped poles and something about hibiscus something-or-other and it just wasn’t all that interesting.  There were moments when Stafford would say something out loud or look at the camera and joke or reveal a bit of the turmoil he was going through, but the majority of those pages focused so much on the building that there wasn’t much of anything else happening.

I don’t know if my expectations were just unrealistic, but I never once felt as if he was really exploring this to the full.  He was there with cameras, antibiotics, a phone, and a beacon and just 8 sea miles away there was help.  So yes, he was naked and marooned and I have no doubt that it was the hardest experience of his life, but it never actually was something he had to be fearful of – because help was just a phone call away.

So overall, NAKED AND MAROONED came off as just an experimental journey, something to see if he could do it but with a catch in the contract to help him if he couldn’t.  Maybe I should look to my survival stories in fiction because there is no real guarantee there that the character will actually survive.  That sounds extremely thoughtless and uncaring of me, but there’s enough of the bloodthirsty adventurer still inside, under all that wishy-washy, scaredy-cat-ness, to wish that this story had been just a little more dangerous.

Have you reviewed NAKED AND MAROONED by Ed Stafford?  Link to your review in the comments below!

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