In my Book Zone Box Set feature I put the spotlight on a series of books that I have read and enjoyed, and would highly recommend to any parent asking about suitable books for their child. The recent release of The Venom of the Scorpion made Jon Mayhew's Monster Odyssey series a deserving addition to the 'box set' shelf.
If you're a long time reader of The Book Zone the you probably already know that I am a big fan of Jon Mayhew's writing, from Mortlock, his super creepy, Victorian-set mystery/horror story, right through to his Monster Odyssey series. If you're a new visitor then welcome and you need look no further than my reviews of the first two books in this series, The Eye of Neptune and The Wrath of the Lizard Lord, to a) find out what they're all about and b) see why I enjoyed them so much.
The Venom of the Scorpion is the fourth, and I believe final book in this fab series, although I'm am still no wiser as to why Bloomsbury didn't give a 'Young Nemo' title to this series. Even though Prince Dakkar does not take this title at any point in these four adventures, we know pretty much from the start that he is destined to become the Captain Nemo of Jules Verne's classic Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. Who else would be travelling around the world in a submarine called the Nautilus? We've had Young Sherlock and Young Bond, so why not Young Nemo? I would not be surprised if there are many fans of Verne's classic who do not know these are, to some degree, prequels.
Like Andrew Lane's Young Sherlock series, great delight can be gained from these stories in spotting the development of the character traits that the well-known adult character possess. All the important elements of the adult Captain Nemo's personality evolve as the story progresses: arrogance; bravery; resourcefulness; a natural leader who inspires loyalty in those who follow him; his love of the ocean; and now, in The Venom of the Scorpion, his hatred of oppression and imperialism. For a middle grade reader, these four books are the perfect introduction to the more challenging Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (although you may also want to drop the odd hint that it is okay to skim read some parts, specifically the numerous, lengthy descriptions of marine life that Verne includes in his story).
Like Verne's original, these books are cracking adventure stories and they are perfect for any young lover of thrilling action/adventure stories.
My thanks go to the fab people at Bloomsbury for keeping me provided with the Monster Odyssey books as they were published, most recently The Venom of the Scorpion which brings this series to a more than satisfactory end (although, and it may be a little too much to hope for, still leaving things open for more adventures in the future).