Lair of the Geek

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David Logan – The League of Sharks

the-league-of-sharks-david-loganLeague of Sharks is the first volume in David Logan’s new fantasy adventure series about teenage hero Junk Doyle.

When he was twelve Junk witnessed a monstrous creature kidnapping his young sister, Ambeline, from their family home in Ireland. Unfortunately Junk had a history of fighting with his sister and nobody believes his story. Junk believes his family blame him and hate him so he runs away, determined to clear his name and find out the truth. This opening works really well, it’s tense and dramatic, and the shock of a small child being stolen away in the night is a great way of grabbing the reader’s attention.

The memories of that night are seared into his memory. The creature was scarred, marked with strange tattoos and shouted something in a language Junk didn’t recognise before it disappeared. Armed with just a handful of clues Junk takes work on the ships, searching the world for anything that will help him solve the mystery.

After several years of travelling the world Junk has gathered information about a mysterious group called the League of Sharks and heard other strange stories of horrific creatures like the one he saw. The stories don’t add up to anything solid but it does point Junk in the direction of the Greek island of Corfu. This is where the story really takes off. Junk spots a creature like the one that took his sister and chases it into the sea. The chase takes him through a mysterious to a completely different realm. He emerges in a vast chamber full of similar doors leading to who knows where? He loses the creature but eventually tries another door. Junk arrives in another world deep under the water and is only saved from drowning by being caught in the fishing net of gentle giant Garvan.

This new world seems very different from our own. It is populated by people who seem to have evolved from other animals. After a shaky start Junk becomes friends with the elephant-like giant and, later, with the agile deer-like Lasel who both help him in his quest to hunt down the League of Sharks. To give much more plot away would be to spoil the book but it should be obvious that Logan has created an environment full of ideas and imagination.

However, imagination and ideas aren’t quite enough if they aren’t used to their full potential, and this is where League of Sharks falls down. If anything there’s too much incident. The plot rattles along from one frantic adventure to the next without pause for breath. Some of these are so eventful they could merit a novel in their own right but they go whizzing past in a couple of pages and then we’re on to the next. Considering how well Logan handles the tension and drama of the opening chapter it’s a shame that he never achieves the same level of excitement again. Incidents that should be really dramatic are set up and delivered so quickly that you never really get any atmosphere or feeling of threat and danger. Everything feels too easy. Characters learn alien languages in a matter of days just by listening to each other. Solutions to problems present themselves almost immediately. Trapped in an enemy compound? This could be really exci…oh, they’ve already escaped. It’s all very pretty but beneath the gloss there’s not much substance to keep you gripped.

I may be being mean. The target audience is young and for them there’s still a lot to like, the new world Logan has created is a fascinating invention and there are clever revelations about it later in the book. The characters are likeable and well-drawn, particularly when dealing with all-to-believably awkward teen romance problems.

In the end this is easy to read, undemanding stuff that will probably please younger teens but won’t really offer enough to satisfy older readers.

David Stonehouse

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