Monday, November 5, 2012

Review: Dolphin Island by Arthur C. Clarke

Yes, I am reading a lot of Arthur C. Clarke lately. I had begun Dolphin Island after finishing Garden of Rama. I couldn't find Rama Revealed at the local used bookstore, so I ordered it online and, being in a Clarke mood already, plucked this off my shelf to tide me over (sorry) because it was fairly short.

As fate would have it, Rama Revealed arrived later the same day, and I put Dolphin Island down so I could finish the Rama series (see my review here). When I picked Dolphin Island back up again, I was transported into a world of wonder and adventure.

What I didn't know when I began this book is that it is a young adult adventure novel. It takes place in the near future, as envisioned from 1963. The main character is a teenage boy named Johnny who hitches a ride on a hovership to escape his dreary home life. When the engines of the hovership explode over open water, Johnny is left stranded, floating on a piece of debris.

He is saved by a group of dolphins who pull him to an island on the Great Barrier Reef called, appropriately, Dolphin Island, where a biologist, Professor Kazan, has been experimenting with communicating with dolphins and has, as it turns out, had quite a lot of success with it.

I don't want to reveal too much about the plot, but the story progresses at a pretty good clip from that point onward, and Clarke's experience as a diver lends authenticity to the descriptions of the animals inhabiting the reef around the island. And as far as young adult adventure novels go, this one is quite good. It captured my imagination and, even though I left my childhood behind long ago, it made me yearn for sandy beaches, coral reefs and exotic locales where a new adventure is waiting around every corner.

I give it 4 out of 5 stars. It's a very short book and is pure escapist fun. While it seems to be currently out of print, used copies can be had for just a few bucks if you can find it. There are many other Arthur C. Clarke novels I'd recommend reading before Dolphin Island, but if you've already read his more popular works and are a fan, this one is definitely worth a look.

Image Source: Dolphin Underwater by Bobbi Jones Jones

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