Wednesday, 20 June 2012
Walker: London 2012 (Walker Book 3) - James London
Title: Walker: London 2012 (Walker Book 3)
Author: James London
"Walker: London 2012" is the third book in a series of athletic based thrillers staring Walker, a scientist and athlete who has over the past two Olympiads saved the British team from ignominy and defeat. I have to admit I have not read the previous two books in the series but decided to read this book anyway to coincide with the Olympics in London this year. I had no real issue following what was happening though and who the characters were as the author included enough information on events and people from the previous books.
The story is based around three specific interlinked plotlines; the first is around an attempt to destroy the Olympic Stadium in London which damages the UK's reputation abroad and at home. The second follows Walker and some young prodigies as they train to take part in the London Olympics to try and help bring back some belief and pride in the British team. The final plotline is dedicated to the research being conducted into Walker's supposed longevity in the hope that the information can be used to help the world.
I have to be honest and say that the premise behind the story actually interested me a lot; I was looking forward to reading a sports based thriller as it had been quite a while since I had read one. However, I actually found that the thrills around the threat to the Olympic Stadium were in short supply and lacking in any real suspense. Then there were the sporting elements of the novel which seemed mainly dedicated to explaining the methodology and theory of how to do various athletics events. The actual Olympics themselves were completed in only a few pages without any real exposition or development. I actually found that most of the book seemed dedicated to discussing a sub-plot on longevity research that was being done by Walker's wife.
I felt that this concentration on the more dry and scientific aspects of longevity and sporting methodology created a novel that at times I found quite dull. I am normally more than happy to read hard science in novels but it is usually included in some sort of enjoyable and interesting plot element which seemed to be missing here. I think there are some genuinely interesting ideas present but the author has failed to detail them or put them across in a manner that can entertain and keep the reader hooked. I have to admit that for the first time in a while I actually found myself actually skipping large parts of the novel.
Another issue was the structure of the novel. I found that the book seemed to jump around everywhere which really damaged any chance of some suspense being built up. For example, one moment I would be reading about a shady meeting between a UK government minister and a contractor and the next it would be reading the intricacies of how someone should do a pole vault. The structure also led to the repetition of various points, I think I must have read about the threat to move the Olympics to Paris three separate times, one of which occurred after it had been confirmed in another section that it wouldn't move. The entire thing just began to irritate me as the novel progressed as it just felt very much like the author had just dumped his ideas on to the page in the order it all came into his head without proper editing or review.
All these plot and structure issues meant that I actually failed to engage with any of the characters. I found most of them to be quite shallow caricatures that were lacking in any real development. In regards to Walker specifically, it felt like his emotions were just generic description of what someone would supposedly feel like when in love or having a baby. This meant that there was no real individuality in the emotions and it just led to me finding Walker to be almost android like in regards to his feelings and reactions. I am more than willing to admit that it is possible that the issues I have with the characters may have been driven by the fact I haven't read the previous two books but there really was nothing specific in this novel that endeared any of them to me.
Overall, I was disappointed as I actually think there was an entertaining premise here that has been bogged down by the prominence of a rather dull sub-plot and a badly constructed writing structure. To be honest, I can't really see a reason for someone to pick this book up unless they have read the previous Walker novels and want to see what happens next.