Monster Odyssey: The Eye of Neptune
By Jon Mayhew
Published by Bloomsbury
ISBN 978 1 4088 2630 0
Good ideas can sometimes be thin on the ground, so when a good one comes along in writing, it is often copied. A while ago, some writer somewhere had the idea of taking a well-established character and writing new stories featuring the character as a teen.
This ingenious idea has already worked well for Andrew Lane's Young Sherlock Holmes books and Charlie Higson's Young Bond novels, and now Jon Mayhew has dug a bit deeper to select the young hero of his Monster Odyssey series. Mayhew's teen protagonist comes from a classic novel that many will have heard of but few will have read.
In 1870, French science-fiction writer Jules Verne published his most famous book, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. This classic French novel tells the story of Captain Nemo and his submarine, Nautilus. Through spin-offs from the book, both Nemo and Nautilus have become more famous than the book in which they first appeared, and now Captain Nemo is about to be introduced to a whole new readership.
Captain Nemo - "nemo" is Latin for "nobody" - is a mysterious figure and Verne gives little away about his background in Twenty Thousand Leagues. Readers are told he is the son of an Indian Rajah and that he is a scientific genius. Mayhew takes these two facts and cleverly fleshes them out in The Eye of Neptune.
Expelled from some of the world's finest schools, young Prince Dakkar has issues with any form of authority. His father sends him to live with one Count Oginski, an unconventional educator whom the Rajah believes will get his son back on the straight and narrow. It isn't long before the inquisitive Dakkar learns that the Count is involved in a top-secret project to build a vessel that can travel under water.
When Count Oginski is kidnapped, Dakkar escapes in the submarine, and Mayhew's underwater adventure moves into top gear after a slow start. Cue shark attacks, giant sea creatures, sinister spies and an over-the-top megalomaniac. Can Dakkar defeat the underwater evils?
Mayhew's Jules-Verne-meets-young-James-Bond mash-up has a thrilling pace. This is a breathtaking opener to a new series of sub-marine adventures aimed at early teen readers, particularly boys - after all, Mayhew believes there is no film or book that cannot be improved by the addition of a shark! Thrills and surprises are guaranteed.
John Millen can be contacted on MillenBookshelf@aol.com