THE LEAGUE OF SHARKS - David Logan THE LEAGUE OF SHARKS

David Logan (davidloganwriter.com)

Quercus (www.quercusbooks.co.uk)

£6.99

Junk Doyle was twelve years old when his mother stopped loving him.

When he is twelve years old, a strange-looking giant of a man sneaks into Colin "Junk" Doyle’s home and abducts his six-year-old sister, Ambeline. His parents find him at a nearby cliff top, having heard their daughter’s cries for help, and suspicion immediately falls on young Junk, who has never been particularly nice to his sister. Determined to clear his name and find – and kill – the man who killed his sister, Junk sets off into the world with the only knowledge he has about the man – the cross-shaped scar over one eye, and the tattoo of a shark’s fin and five stars, the symbol – he later learns – of La Liga de los Tiburones, The League of Sharks. After three years of travelling, Junk follows a man who looks like his sister’s abductor through a glowing green door on the seabed off the coast of Greece. On the other side, he finds a room filled with similar doors, and when he follows the man through a second door, he finds that he has returned to Earth some three million years into the future. Here, man is extinct, and animals have evolved into almost-human forms, and here is where Junk will find out what happened to his sister.

The League of Sharks is the first in a new young adult fantasy series from David Logan, the acclaimed author of Lost Christmas. Our protagonist, Junk, starts the story at twelve years old. Three years later – three hard years, working his passage on boats and ships, moving around the world – he seems much older than his allotted fifteen years. With this subtle tweak to the central character, Logan ensures that League – and everything that is to follow – will appeal not only to the target teen audience, but also to a much older fan of fantasy fiction.

Logan’s vision of a future three million years down the line is a depressing one for humanity, but an interesting one nonetheless. Humanity, it seems, is set to die out within a few thousand years of today, to be replaced by the results of our genetic experiments, beings that are part animal, part human. Earth in this far future is almost recognisable to twenty-first century eyes:

Jansia was part of a continent that vaguely resembled Europe, though, in comparison to a similar-sized map of Earth, the land mass was far smaller and there was a lot more water. This was true of the rest of this world.

Technology has surged forward in some respects – the land-ships, for example, which run on tracks like trains on land, and sail like ships when on water – and regressed in many others. This feels much more like a fantasy world than the science fiction setting that such a far-future setting might imply. There are comparisons to be made with the works of China Miéville, especially his most recent work, Railsea.

Junk meets a number of inhabitants of this future who are willing to help him. With some, the original species is quite obvious – Dr Octravinius the goat, or Cascér the shark – while others are less so – Garvan the elephant and Lasel the deer. Along the way, Junk will find himself facing strange birdmen who have not evolved as much as the planet’s other inhabitants; a lunatic religious cult which holds the key to the Room of Doors, and which seems to exist solely to ensure the destruction of Dr Octravinius; and the League of Sharks themselves.

The League of Sharks marks the start of young Junk’s journey, introducing the reader to this engaging young man who seems much older than his years and to the strange new world in which he finds himself. Logan has constructed a believable world that is at once dangerous and intriguing. He has also created the fundamental building blocks of not one, but two new languages that serve to add further dimensions to world and story. Perfect for fans of Michael Grant’s Gone series or the many and varied worlds of China Miéville, both young and not-so-young, it will leave you pining for the next instalment (The Nine Emperors, due August).

With a wit that will appeal to a wide audience, and a central character whose escapades will appeal, in particular, to young boys, David Logan enters the packed world of young adult fantasy with a fresh voice and an original take on an oft-told tale. Magical, thrilling and, at times, touching and sentimental, The League of Sharks – and whatever is still to come of this brilliant series – is sure to be a hit. Recommend it to your children, but be sure to have a sneaky read yourself. You might just find your new favourite read.

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