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Book Review: "Mutiny on the Bounty" by John Boyne

5/5 - John Boyne takes us back to the 1780s...

By Annie KapurPublished 7 months ago 3 min read
Photograph of my Kindle

"April 28, 1789: The real-life mutiny that inspired John Boyne's novel, Mutiny on the Bounty, took place aboard the HMS Bounty 224 years ago today. Half the ship's crew, seduced by several months of good life on Tahiti, rose up against Captain William Bligh. Some of the mutineers' descendants still live on Pitcairn Island”

I have read many John Boyne novels in my time and I am making it a thing for myself to read the rest of his bibliography before his next book is released. Most recently I have read Water, Crippen and Beneath the Earth - all of which are dramatic novels with psychological elements. I have in the past, enjoyed The Echo Chamber which is a hilarious romp of a modern societal critique of social media lives and cancel culture.

I have maybe three or four books I have not actually read by John Boyne with my journey starting when I was younger when my mother and I both read The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas - it is still my mother's favourite book to this day. From making people believe that This House is Haunted to living in The House of Special Purpose, from reading about someone's Next of Kin to meeting The Traveller at the Gates of Wisdom near A Ladder to the Sky - John Boyne goes from strength to strength as one of this century's greatest authors. Now for Mutiny on the Bounty - but John Boyne's take on one of the most famous events to take place on the ocean.


It is England in the 1780s and a ship named The HMS Bounty is heading to Tahiti and as we read, we are met with the familiar fact that it must go through a mutiny. An incredibly niche book for those who are familiar with the poetic and often immersive works of John Boyne or those who are familiar with the history of a ship called The Bounty. This book tells a tale at sea with a terrifying adventure complete with language from the time in as many places as possible. As with a lot of John Boyne novels, there is not a lot of physical action and much of the book is dedicated to exploring the depths of characters, inner thoughts and emotions with certain character backgrounds revealed slowly as we gain or lose out trust for them. This is not uncommon for John Boyne but I know why people would be put off by there not being a lot of action in a book about a mutiny.

The main character is a young boy who we get to learn about in striking detail. His background and upbringing were horrific and his way on to the ship was by no means conventional. He is our guide through the book and yet, he is not a major person in command or any kind fo officer. He serves as our eyes and ears as the mutiny approaches with kind, but careful pace. We see the truth about the villainy of the captain and how not everyone is trusting on a ship out at sea. With resilience and energy, this book builds atmosphere after atmosphere as the character moves from space to space and Boyne lets us keep up with absolutely everything.

From: Art UK

One of the things I enjoyed most of all about this book is the archaic language that was used to really set the scene. It takes you all the way back to the 1780s with all of its linguistic intricacies. The characters feel very alive and vivid as they live through their descriptions and dialogues, their ideologies and actions, their histories and their biographies. John Boyne brings this all together to create a brilliant story of people who seek their own redemption and choices over a tyrannous and often self-serving captain - creating tension and dichotomy through the difference in class and behaviour, proving that choices are often taken foregranted by all of us who get to make our own every day.

All in all, I feel like though this was not one of John Boyne's strongest novels, it still deserves the full marks for the amount of effort that went into it. The language, the atmosphere, the tension and the opposition of classes were all delights to read in John Boyne's account of one of the most famous things to happen on the sea.


About the Creator

Annie Kapur

200K+ Reads on Vocal.

Secondary English Teacher & Lecturer

🎓Literature & Writing (B.A)

🎓Film & Writing (M.A)

🎓Secondary English Education (PgDipEd) (QTS)

📍Birmingham, UK

X: @AnnieWithBooks

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Reader insights


Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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Comments (2)

  • Kendall Defoe 7 months ago

    I have only read Bligh's account, so I am intrigued by this. Thank you for this one... So much to read... 📚

  • Thank you so much for taking us through your books. I remember the film and know the subject from school. Some great images too. Thank you for sharing

Annie KapurWritten by Annie Kapur

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