I was told that if I wanted to read a good “creature feature” I should check this out. I shouldn’t be so gullible. Really. Everyone likes things differently, so there’s a chance you might think this is a fine book. I would recommend it if you’re on a cruise ship craving a fishy frisson of deep sea toothiness after dinner, or if you’re a scuba diver wanting to up the ante a little. I wouldn’t recommend it for beach reading because falling asleep under the sun is not healthy. I speak from experience.
Meg is short for carcharodon megalodon, an ancient shark that swam with the dinosaurs back in its heyday that has been buried seven miles deep since the big rock fell on Yucatan. Deep sea pilot Jonas Taylor has an encounter with the beast that leaves him mentally challenged and professionally screwed for some years. No one believes he encountered an albino shark big enough to make a great white seem like your grandma’s goldfish. The bulk of the book is his story of mano a pescado, having to always defend himself against sneering naysayers and his own demons.
That doesn’t seem like a terrible book, surely, and Meg isn’t really terrible. It just isn’t very good. To begin with, an issue that is “revised and expanded” should not have that many typos, incorrect tense or just plain misused words. I found the whole setup ham handed. The prologue, which goes on FOR. EVER. not only introduces us to the mustache twirling bad guys (the early ones – there are more later), but the stereotypically juvenile boy scientists who think pantsing each other at 19,000 feet below sea level to be hilariously funny. Okay, they didn’t do that, but only because the author didn’t think of it. We’re introduced to the science of the deepity deep part of the Pacific Ocean, shark physiology, deep sea diving, and then there is the build up to the preliminary encounter of shark and pilot. The action sequences are loaded with wiki notes, which I don’t mind, to a certain point. And then there are more scenes with more science, and more of the build-up. We all know what is going to happen, it’s the prologue and the book needs to be properly set up, so get on with it already. I was reading this on my phone so about a hundred pages later chapter one finally showed up, and hey, we get to read the Readers Digest version of the prologue.
Several times while reading the book I found myself talking to my phone, like, “Why does he rehash? This happened, and oh, let me tell you again that this happens, and then maybe a couple more times. Argh!” This is not helped by the author’s clunky prose. Not clunky in an endearing way, like Rhiannon Frater’s but more like, “their eyes following the unseen creature” kinda way.
Fortunately for us all, there is a movie in the works from Warner, starring Jason Statham, Jessica McNamee, Ruby Rose, Rainn Wilson, and Li Bingbing. I’m happy to see they’ve cast Asian actors for the Japanese character roles. It should be a fine Michael Bay production, or a wannabe, because the book is chock full of character clichés and situations that are terribly convenient to create a picturesque series of (supposedly) horrifying run ins between the Meg and humans, who take up so MUCH ocean space that of course that’s going to happen. Repeatedly. To be fair, having watched the antics of occasionally moronic tourists, I can almost believe some of it happening. Almost.
I didn’t care for the author’s portrayal of women, the very few that were in the book. They’re either dangerously careless and idiotically headstrong, or they’re conniving and power hungry. He portrays their sexuality in a rather masculine way, having both of them at one point or another, “burying her tongue in his mouth”. Couldn’t they just, you know, kiss?
Finally we get to the last part of the book, where we are treated to a super extended action sequence with less wiki science embedded but a strong Hollywood blockbuster flavor. Action should move, if you ask me, not wallow around in the sea for another fifty pages.
It seems like I really hated this book, but I didn’t. There are more than a few things a potential reader should be aware of going in, and if you don’t mind overlooking those problems and love creature features then you’ll have an okay time reading this. My recommendation is to skip the book and watch the movie when it comes out in 2018. It’ll be loud and has the potential for some good action sequences, since they won’t have the science lecture interludes. We hope.
CFR: In Addition: As I was typing in this post, Mildred came into my office. We spent several minutes discussing how much we like Jason Stathan – especially his Spy performance. 🙂 I will not, however, bother reading this book. Thanks for taking one for the blog, Mildred!