Dolman by Victoria David

Dolman is set to a background of concern over climate changes, with a Government who believe that we are rapidly heading for disaster. With this in mind, they are secretly running two projects.. the first is to design underwater cities to live in, and the second is to design a genetically modified human, capable of living underwater.

There is a theory that humans and dolphins share a genetic past, and so this becomes the animal of choice for the resultant hybrids. Sebastian James, a genius geneticist, is the chosen scientist for this particular project. He is completely obsessed with his work, and is disliked by most people who come across him.

The book, however, starts away from these projects, and is set in Scotland. The first four chapters introduce us to some great characters, and their relationships, and I felt immediately pulled into their lives. We catch glimpses of the projects, as they do, but the emphasis is on the characters.

Chapter five takes us back to 1990, where we start to learn more about the projects – it has a different feel to the first chapters, but once again pulled me straight in. Victoria has a descriptive style, which pulls the reader into the day to day happenings, and she also writes some very believable and likable characters.

This is definitely the part where the story falls into the ‘Science Fiction’ category, and my main criticism is there’s a point when one of the character’s actions seem a little rushed and unbelievable. Once past that part, however, the story picks up again. If the book was set a few years in the future, this part may have worked better.

That aside, Victoria has some great ideas, which on the whole, she’s able to carry off well. The hybrids become totally believable, along with the underwater world they live in. Ariel in particular has a wonderful character, and provided some emotional moments.

For me, the strength of this book is the way Victoria writes her characters, their intertwining stories, and the way they relate to each other. There is a lot going on, it’s a hard book to put down, and will certainly keep you thinking after you finish.

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