"Exciting ethical adventure with pirates, kidnapping and coral conservation"
A Jack Courtney Adventure : with Chris Wakling
This second Jack Courtney Adventure by Wilbur Smith and Chris Wakling is every bit as edge-of-your-seat-entertaining and environmentally aware as its predecessor, Cloudburst - think Alex Rider with conservation conscience.
After enduring a terrifying time in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Jack and his mum, plus friends Amelia and Xander, are on the island of Zanzibar for a much-needed holiday, where Jack is treasure-hunting for lost wedding rings (Zanzibar is a popular honeymoon destination) in the idyllic sea. He plans to use his share of any spoils to help his mum, because “raising awareness of the plight of the coral reefs costs money.”
Then, on one of their treasure-hunting trips, and not long after Jack is dealt a bombshell about his father, they venture further afield in the Thunderbolt boat and are captured by gun-wielding Somali pirates. Mo, a boy with the pirates, advises them to “stay calm”, which is easier said than done when you wind up in a training camp for child soldiers under the command of General Sir who, as Mo explains, “steals children for others to use. While they’re here he gives them a little training with guns and explosives so they’re more valuable, and then he sells them on to the militia, or the army, whoever will pay.”
With its unrelenting sense of danger underpinned by serious environmental and social issues - the destruction of coral reefs; child labour in their Zanzibar hotel; Somali child soldiers forced to fight for Al‑Shabaab - Thunderbolt is an adventure with ethics. What’s more, the short chapters and sharply focussed action scenes make this hugely accessible to reluctant readers.
Part of a series but works perfectly as a standalone adventure story.