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Tuesday 4 June 2013

Walker: London 2012 by James London


From the book synopsis, I was expecting a thriller, where politics and sports collide. Last year’s Olympics provided the setting; despite the event having been and gone, the setting could have been any Olympics past or future, so I wasn’t disadvantaged by reading this ten months too late. 

However, my anticipation and hopes for a roller-coaster ride of a read were soon dampened. Unfortunately, I found this turned out to be a rather flat and tedious story with sci-fi elements. 

England’s prime minister is so desperate for re-election, he focuses on the forthcoming London Olympics as the perfect opportunity to engineer an outcome that will secure a second term to power. His plan is heinous, to say the least, and he uses a ladder of equally unscrupulous, greedy henchmen to help him achieve his aim. A shattered and incredulous British nation is then encouraged to renew its support and pride in London’s hosting abilities, when an exceptionally gifted athlete is persuaded to return to the track in an endeavour to repeat his gold-medal success in two former Olympics: a retired athlete (Walker), who, post Olympic success, has been devoting his time to research into human longevity. 

The story has very little dialogue in it: there are long, long passages of facts and figures (about longevity); long, long passages describing Walker’s and other athletes’ scores and times achieved (which have little relevance to the story). New characters pop up in every chapter (some of whom left me with unanswered questions) and unfortunately, I didn’t feel anything for any of them. More importantly, I felt nothing for the main character…who has none (and whose first name I never learnt); he was bland, robotic, passionless, and uninteresting. I was desperately hoping for some edge-of-your-seat action and suspense and kept hoping until fifty per cent of the way through. With none forthcoming I struggled to finish this book. 

Which is all a great shame. The premise of the plot had great potential and the author writes articulately and intelligently. Though it was tiresome and unnecessary, the research into athletic training and the import of athletic techniques was meticulous, detailed and commendable. It was just too intense for the requirements of the story. Furthermore, careful proofreading was overlooked. The prime minister floated from De-Vert to DeVert and there were a number of other errors and inconsistencies. 

As it stands, I think this might appeal to readers who enjoy scientific details and/or very specific technical explanations of how to shot-put, long-jump, hurdle, throw javelin, etc, but sadly, I found these to be at the expense of my enjoyment of this book. With regret, this one just wasn’t for me.

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