Review: Lost Worlds / Author: Andrew Lane / Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books / Release Date: Out Now
Fans of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World will be interested in this new novel by the author of the superb Young Sherlock Holmes series. It introduces Calum Challenger, a descendant of the original Professor George Edward Challenger. Left alone and partially paralysed by the car crash that killed his wealthy parents, Calum locks himself up in his flat. The aftermath of his parents’ death leaves him with enough money to easily fund an expedition, a big warehouse flat stacked to the nines with technology and a website dedicated to finding creatures previously thought extinct or unknown to science. For bonus points in terms of children’s literature box ticking, there’s even a bit of subtext in there about how the disabled aren’t useless. We felt that was done quite well, in that he’s given real limitations and finds himself having to take a backseat while his friends go on the adventure.
Ah yes, the adventure. They have to go to Georgia to find something called an Almast, a kind of advanced Bigfoot (aka a remnant of the Neanderthal culture of thousands of years ago). Spoiler alert: they find it about 250 pages in. Was there ever any doubt?
The main problem that we have with the book is that it doesn’t really end. Sure, we’ll concede that there is the appearance of an ending with the central plot being wrapped up. However, with a hasty resolution it just smacks of a cop-out. Really, with the fact that it takes place in our modern world, the conclusion was inevitable. It’s reminiscent of endings that you’ve seen a thousand times before, in which nothing is really changed in an effort to keep the status quo.
However, this isn’t aimed at embittered reviewers like this one; it’s aimed at a young adult audience who probably haven’t read this sort of thing before. Plus, with more adventures in the pipeline, it’s no surprise that thousands of children will find the hero that they wish they could be in Calum Challenger. And really, the rating below is not because it’s a poor book, but because based on Mr Lane’s track record, it could’ve been so much better.