Meg: A Novel of Deep Terror by Steve Alten
Genre: Fiction, horror, sharks, thriller, action, you know how you beat a shark? You stay on fucking land, idiots!
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Summary: Disgraced naval submersible pilot turned paleobiologist Jonas Taylor is haunted by a failed dive that killed two of his colleagues and changed his life forever. Sadly for Jonas, no one believes that he actually saw an extinct albino shark in the Mariana Trench several years ago, and now he’s relegated to giving lectures and writing books on his crackpot theories to pay the bills. But all that’s about to change, and the definitely not extinct Carcharadon Megalodon will make her presence known to the entire world. Read: she’s going to eat everyone.
Welcome to the fifth annual Shark Week on Bibliomantics, where I torture myself by reading and reviewing a shark themed novel, all in the name of something that is definitely not science.
I wasn’t sure which book I was going to read this year, until the adaptation of Steve Alten’s much-praised Meg announced Jason Statham would be joining the soon to be a motion picture as protagonist Jonas Taylor. It also had pretty decent reviews on GoodReads so I figured, what’s the worst that could happen?
Much like the poorly named Sharc by actor and Kindle author Paul Rudd, Meg suffers from too many characters. With the exception of Jonas, Mac, Terry, Maggie (who I thought was named Molly until I double checked) and Bud, I regularly forgot which characters were integral to the plot and who they even were when they would deign to appear. Not that it matters because they’re all just pieces of one-dimensional cardboard — with the exception of helicopter pilot Mac who is the best. TEAM MAC!
mop wearing a hat star of the story is Jonas, a disgraced naval pilot plagued by nightmares of the one time he maybe thought he saw an extinct Carcharadon Megalodon in the Mariana Trench. Frightened by the potential hallucination, Jonas forgot his training and accidentally killed two of his colleagues while attempting to escape the monster.
SIDE NOTE: For more of that exciting adventure you can check out the way too jargon-laden prequel Meg: Origins which has more boob jokes than sharks, not to mention a bizarre sub plot about volcanic rocks that is never mentioned again.
Jonas love interest is Terry, a sassy voluptuous Asian beauty who wears cut off shorts and heels at the same time (because 1997?) and who he has no chemistry with whatsoever — in fact, she hates everything about him. Despite this they still hook up off page and inexplicably fall in love and I hated every second of it.
In the bad guy corner we have Jonas’ super attractive reporter wife
Molly Maggie, who is cheating on her paleobiologist hubbie with his best college bro Bud because Bud is rich and she’s an opportunist. And then of course there’s the big bad Meg, who enjoys eating people and whales in the most graphic manner possible. And let’s be honest here, how are humans even filling? Why are you eating them at all Meg!?!
Like most shark horror novels — not to mention movies — the villain is easily defeated by simply not going in the water, a fact which every single character and nameless civilian refuses to take into account.
Instead, people who are completely aware this sixty foot shark is trolling the shores hold enormous surfing competitions, flock to the area to go on whale watching tours in the hopes they glimpse the Megalodon, attempt to capture it, try to kill it, go in the water to videotape it and even have a house boat party to celebrate its eventual capture — because what could go wrong?
Interestingly enough, unlike most other crazed expeditions to capture Megalodons (you know, the ones that happen all the time), the aim is to protect the previously thought extinct, now endangered creature from harm. Normally, the premise is to either kill it or better yet capture it to throw it in and aquarium and make lots of money of it, so I did appreciate that tiny wrinkle.
What I definitely did not appreciate however was the way Steve Alten wrote his female characters. Does he hate women? I’m not entirely sure, but I did get the feeling that he’s never talked to one in real life.
First there’s Maggie, who is scheming to make her husband look like a nut job so she can divorce him without consequences — a woman might I add who doesn’t want children (how dare she?). Then there’s Terry, who is considered too smug and brash by the other characters, even after the death of her beloved brother when she should be cut some slack. And then of course there’s the uncaring female shark, a mother who chooses to eat her own children, but at least she’s going forth and multiplying, am I right Steve?
Despite my problems with the story, I can understand why people enjoy it. It reads like an action movie, complete with questionable science, plenty of detailed descriptions of humans getting eaten, the “bad guys” getting what’s coming to them and the potential for an even more ridiculous sequel.
- It was a relatively quick read
- The opening chapter featured the epic showdown between a T-Rex and a Megalodon
- Team Mac!
- Beyond predictable
- Featured one dimensional characters whose fates I did not care about
- Steve Alten do you know what a woman is?
After reviewing a shark themed book every year since 2012, I’m starting to wonder: are there any good shark books out there? Sure, I found Big Ass Shark my most enjoyable shark read thus far, but even it had its problems. So what should I read next year, internet? Do you know any actually good shark books, or should I tackle this nonsense middle grade series about talking sharks next?