First novel in an epic fantasy series featuring John Lee, an accidental adventurer and a man on the run. He sails on a trade ship with Captain Sykes and Dr. Oliver Pikeham, a botanist, astronomer, and naturalist.
In DINOSAUR ISLAND, a military deserter steals the identity of a dead man and becomes “John Lee.” After years on the lam while acquiring skills as a yogi and a thug, John Lee sets sail on Captain Sykes’ clipper ship to finally head back to England with his new identity.
However, when Dr. Pikeham discovers that “John Lee” is an imposter, instead of turning him into the authorities, he offers him a job as his personal aide and protector on forays to dangerous, primitive islands so he can continue his work of studying and cataloguing the native animals. While on a shore expedition, John, Pikeham, and Sykes abandon Pikeham’s scientific equipment and flee back to the ship before Siamese pirates can attack.
Losing the pirates in a typhoon, the damaged ship encounters a mysterious island. When they go ashore to gather supplies and items to repair the ship, they encounter dinosaurs. And some of them are carnivorous…
Lost on this island of primordial, dangerous creatures, will the passengers and crew of the Nannie Dee survive this perilous adventure and the terrors of the beasts that come in the night? Will John ever see England again?
When I first saw this book, I was of course immediately struck by that stunning cover and I did one of my impulse buys to get the paperback. And boy did that come back to bite me on the ample arse!
Firstly the book was only 98 pages long which was disappointing but hey, that was my fault for not checking the book length before I ordered it so that is all on me. However, in a book this short I expect the very obvious editing errors to be corrected before publication. The main character is a man called John who is on the run from military justice and has assumed the identity of a dead man called John Lee. However he introduces himself to another passenger as John Sykes. Sykes is the name of the ship captain, so that kind of thing is annoying.
The basic story is that they stop at an island so the good doctor can go ashore to take scientific samples. Knowing John's real identity, he offers him a position as his assistant rather than turn him in. They are interrupted by pirates and flee back to sea. However after the ship is damaged in a typhoon, the men go ashore to the next island they see but this one has dangerous dinosaurs on it. Now they need to survive until the ship is fit to travel and try to find their way back to the sea routes and safety. While this sounds good, there was too much other stuff and not enough of the actual dinosaurs. What there was of the dinosaurs was decent enough but it just lacked in the tension and excitement that I hoped for with the title.
It is overly religious for me I'm afraid. I don't have any issues with the MCs having faith or praying but this book was too much. Each chapter opens with a long religious verse or story. Then the crew tell religious stories to each other, one of which the MC doesn't get the point of so I have to ask, why put it in? If the MC doesn't get it, we're hardly likely to and it seems like more padding and wasted pages to me. If in doubt, miss it out! Then we get a really strange moment after evading dinosaurs where the men stare at the sky and witness the birth of the planets from inside the petals of a giant flower while John spends his time wailing about punishments from God. Right. Ok.
It is also over-descriptive. In the first 35 pages we get endless descriptions of things like the temples, the docks, Dr Pikeham's luggage, the men, the boat...I didn't feel that this was necessary when the book is under 100 pages. I'd rather see these pages devoted to the actual story.
To be honest I just didn't find much to enjoy about this at all as the whole plot just didn't suit me. I struggled through it and when the 98 pages seem never-ending, you know there is a problem! Needless to say I won't be trying anything else by the author.
Read July 2017.