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!
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Big Ass Shark by Briar Lee Mitchell
Genre: Fiction, horror, sharks, who needs regular sized sharks when you can have big ass sharks?
Rating: 3.75 out of 5 stars
Summary: Wannabe actress Misty’s life is turned upside down when she has a horrifying chance encounter with an enormous white shark, the long thought extinct Megalodon. Armed with a giant tooth and a video of her near death, Misty gets embroiled in a dangerous adventure involving a reporter, several scientists, an insane billionaire, some shark hunters and a park ranger. Not to mention a big ass shark named Ghostie.
I know what you’re not thinking: “But Cassie, last year you promised for Shark Week you would review Sharcano, a story about sharks made of liquid hot magma.”
Well sorry non-existant person, but try as I might I could barely make it through the prologue. To put things into perspective, I was able to finish the novelization of Jaws: The Revenge, which is about a shark following a widow to the Bahamas because her son broke a magical gourd. Yeah.
Not only was I pressed for time because Shark Week came an entire month earlier this year to coincide with actual summer and the plot of Jaws, but when something has that many similes in the first few pages, uses the phrase “the icing on the fight cake” and refers to animals as “meat trains” I have to concede defeat.
Thankfully, I had a backup.
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Book: Jaws: The Revenge by Hank Searls
Movie: Jaws: The Revenge
Genre: Fiction, horror, sharks, voodoo is actually a much better explanation than no explanation
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars (book), 2.6 out of 5 stars (movie)
Summary: Everyone’s favorite man-eating shark is back for his final adventure! Or rather, a possible relative of everyone’s favorite man-eating shark is back for his final adventure. In the 4th installment of the film series, turned the 3rd installment of the book series, yet another Great White Shark is torturing the Brody family, and it’s all because Michael Brody broke a witch doctor’s magical gourd. Leaving everyone who picked up this book to ponder: “Yeah, but is that why it roars?”
Yet another Shark Week has come and gone (with twice as many fake documentaries) and this year I chose to read perhaps the most torturous shark story to date — aside from last year’s read — a novelization of the film Jaws: The Revenge. AKA Jaws IV. AKA The One That is Somehow Worse Than Jaws 3.
Jaws: The Revenge: it’s a tale as old as time. Man kills shark. Man kills a different shark. Possible descendent of deceased sharks follows the man’s family to the Bahamas and begins systematically killing them.
You know, that old story.
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Sharc by Paul Rudd
Genre: Fiction, horror, sharks, thriller, why do fictional governments keep allowing billionaires to build unsafe underwater aquariums and dinosaur filled islands?
Rating: 2.67 out of 5 stars
Summary: Maxwell Baxter has a lot of money, so he builds an aquarium/resort/research center named the ARC to house the long thought extinct shark Carcharodon Megalodon with some help from the American government, Arnold Schwarzenegger, some scientists, and the BBC. Everything is going swimmingly until the prehistoric behemoth escapes and begins to eat people. And whales. So many whales. Will our 8,000 heroes be able to stop it!?! Probably. There’s really not that much to worry about.
DID EVERYONE ENJOY THEIR MOTHERSHARKING SHARK WEEK!?!
Last year to commemorate the best television watching week of the year I reviewed Peter Benchley’s Jaws and compared it to the film version from Steven Spielberg. And while the shark didn’t follow anyone to the Bahamas to roar at them it just didn’t live up to the film version, probably because everyone was too busy being terrible people and not enough time getting eaten alive.
So this year I decided to switch things up and read a non-Jaws centered novel and I did it in the easiest way possible, by seeing what I could borrow for free on my Kindle. Enter Sharc, a cautionary tale about why not to take presumed extinct giant sharks and try to lock them in confined spaces. AKA why we shouldn’t keep letting billionaires play with science. HASN’T JEFF GOLDBLUM SUFFERED ENOUGH!?!
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Book: Jaws by Peter Benchley
Genre: Fiction, horror, shark, thriller, one of the few times the movie was actually better
Rating: 3.6 out of 5 stars (book), 4.9 out of 5 stars (movie)
Summary: A vicious killer fish from the deep wreaks havoc on the seaside town of Amity, killing four people and ruining the economy for its poor citizens. Caught between his desire to save lives and save the struggling town, police chief Brody is forced to make some painful decisions. Add in a mob subplot, a wife dissatisfied with her life choices and a horny ichthyologist and you have a book that will have you jumping into the water, into the fins of a much nobler shark who’s at least true to himself.
Last August in a slightly inebriated post about reading as escapism, I had the brilliant (see: shark themed) idea to read and review Jaws in honor of Shark Week. AND I ACTUALLY REMEMBERED TO DO IT! You’re welcome everyone who still doesn’t actually care. And you’re actually welcome shark enthusiasts.
As documentaries and the internet will tell you, Jaws (the book, not the Spielberg movie- yes, there is a book) was inspired by the Jersey Shore attacks of 1916, not to be confused with the Snooki attacks of the 21st century. Scientists believe the five attacks were perpetrated by one shark, a SHARK WITH A LUST FOR BLOOD! Or one who was sick/starving and probably confused by the influx of flesh in the hypodermic needle strewn water during a freak heat wave. I kid, I’m sure the water was just full of mob bodies in 1916.
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