Two book reviews in a week? Yes reading can be fun (if you're bored)
This was my summer reading assignment for my freshman college semester. Its a book, about bath toys. Almost 400 pages of it. But it really is much more than that. It's a story of ambition, adventure, science, environmentalism and I guess you could say obsession. An English teacher in New York about to have his second child, Donovan Hohn became fascinated about a tale of a container ship this spilled over in 1992, dumping among other things, over 28,000 rubber bath toys. He then quit his job and set off on a quest to retrace their path from the Bering Sea to the shores of Alaska to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch to the Northwest passage. Hohn embarks on several chases to different places in search of the rubber ducks. Why he decided to do this isn't entirely clear, but proves to be quite an experience.
On is first journey, he travels via ferry up the Alaska panhandle to explore beaches where rubber ducks have been found. He describes his experience of traveling the seldom used Alaska Marine Highway through the inlets of uncharted wilderness. On his second chase, he makes his way to Anchorage to meet Chris Pallister, a sea captain who directs the Gulf of Alaska Keepers (GoAK). Hohn volunteers to help in the cleanup of Gore Point, in hope of finding the elusive rubber duck. On his third chase, he sets out to Hawaii to join a research team studying the buildup of plankton near the garbage patch and witnessing even more plastic trash on the big islands beaches. Next he went to a toy convention in Hong Kong and then to neighboring Guangdong to see where the very toys were first made. He then flew to Busan, South Korea where he arranged to ride a cargo ship that would sail near the spot where the spill occurred in 1992. On his final journey, he sails into the Labrador Sea and the northwest passage.
This book as multiple appeals and many underlying themes that Hohn was able to incorporate into a true story. For starters, the title is in reference to another famous sea tale, Moby Dick. Although Moby Dick is more Shakespearian in nature, Moby Duck shares some themes. Moby Dick is about obsession, and although Hohn doesn't explicitly imply that he was obsessed with these rubber ducks, he calls himself 'a fool' in the books title. The rubber ducks are a symbol of childhood, so you could say Hohn was trying to pursue his childhood through these ducks. Environmentalism is also heavily rooted into the story. Hohn describes in graphic detail the magnitude of plastic marine pollution, particularly when he goes to clean Gore point in Alaska and walks along what he dubbed "plastic beach" in southern Hawaii. But once again, he doesn't seem to intend environmentalism to be the main point of the book. All that aside, it shows a modern day adventure across the seas and beyond, exploring a historical event from start to finish.
I actually found it to be an interesting read. However at orientation almost all of the other students said they didn't bother to read it and those who did couldn't understand it all (probably because they couldn't make the connection to Moby Dick and its themes)
Here's a narration of the prologue;
You can see a whole picture gallery of Hohn's journey on his website.