Books · Recommendations · Reviews · Science-Fiction

Meg by Steve Alten – A Book Review

Good morning, book-mates!  I’m excited to say that it’s been raining quite a lot here, and since it’s an uncommon occurrence, I decided to take advantage of it! I spent a lot of time splishing and splashing in the cool water this weekend. Hopefully I didn’t catch a cold, but even if I did, totally worth it!

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I finished reading Meg by Steve Alten on Friday, and I’ll state right off the bat that I rather enjoyed it very much! After completely demolishing my expectations (or lack there of), it also awakened a new reading phase within my bookish heart: an obsession for books with sea-creatures as the focus. I tend to go through reading phases a lot, especially when there isn’t anything in particular that I’m interested in in that moment. So, I guess ocean-living, creature-features it will be, haha. Amazon helped me along by providing me with a great stack of these monster-novels, in exchange for all of the monies of course.

Meg is a story about the existence of the prehistoric shark known as Megalodon. This shark actually did exist about 20 million to 2 million years ago, but is extinct now (or is it?). In this novel, due to some mighty savvy and impressive scientific reasons, this ancient cousin to the great white shark survived the last ice age, and after some plotting and probing, finds itself released into unfamiliar territories within the vast oceans of the world, thus initiating 500 pages of terror and tension!

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There were a ton of elements that I adored about Meg. The first is the science! Super technical and complicated sciences in science-fiction is what I legit live for! The book utilizes marine biology, palaeontology, oceanography, and volcanology to create a substantially believable basis for why and how the existence of the megalodon is wholly plausible. I was expecting the information to be cheesy and ridiculously made-up, but it wasn’t. The foundation for the novel was wonderfully researched, helping me get completely wrapped up in the theoretical possibility of the whole thing. When a book has me researching how realistic an idea is (or can be), you know that it’s got some fantastic writing.

Science shtick aside, the rest of the writing was also great. The dialogue can be a bit cheesy, or at the very least eye-roll-worthy, but it wasn’t bad by any means, and only comes up occasionally. Most of the time, it’s fluid and fitting for the scene that’s being illustrated. In the beginning of the book, the pace can feel sluggish, for about the first 50 pages (at most), but it picks up quickly and doesn’t let go until the finale. I know it’s stupidly clichéd to say this, but the story really does keep you at the edge of your seat (or in my case, the edge of my bed, haha). The writing also felt unique to me, but that’s due to one distinct reason: one of the perspectives in Meg is from the actual creature itself, which I don’t think I’ve ever experienced in a title with this sort of subject, or topic. These viewpoints certainly complimented the zoological information about the megalodon.

All of these facets, when combined, created an amazingly absorbing reading ride. It was definitely a ride because I could feel my emotions, as well as my hopes for what would occur, shifting and changing drastically with the plot’s progression. Unfortunately, there are a couple of things that irked me a little bit during this experience. Well, two things irked me and one thing is just a warning for future readers.

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Let me begin with the warning. My edition came with the prequel novella, Meg: Origins, so I read that prior to jumping into the actual novel. I honestly don’t think anyone should dive into the novel without reading the novella first because it provides us with background on our protagonist that is essentially the driving point, or motivation, for everything that he does in Meg. The novel doesn’t cover nearly enough of what occurs in the prequel, which can make the reader slightly confused or somewhat frustrated. It may feel like you’re missing out on an immensely important chunk of the plot, and that’s not a good feeling to have with a book as gripping as this one.

Now, the two points that irritated me. The first was the chauvinistic way that women were depicted in the prequel novella that was included with my edition. This was remedied in the novel itself, but it did almost make me DNF the book entirely. To be perfectly blunt, it felt sexist on the same level as a B-level 80s action-adventure film. The effect could have been intentional, especially considering the specific characters that came off this way, but I still didn’t care for it at all.

The second was the fact that an American-raised Japanese man kept saying “yes” in Japanese all of the time (translated: hai). That was it, that was the only word he said in Japanese. It felt completely contradictory to the way the character was introduced. He was a man who came to America when he was a child (about six years old) and ended up getting tumblr_oeupfc1wpm1tx9vazo1_500tossed into an internment camp when World War II hit. I have friends with family who had to endure that terrible, shitty time of history and most of those Japanese men and women ended up not speaking Japanese at all for fear of being further persecuted. Most of them wouldn’t speak English until they were perfectly fluent so as to further allay the discrimination. So this man’s actions were annoyingly unrealistic. Without giving spoilers, all I can say is that it felt like a cheap way to make this character feel more “authentically” Japanese. While it’s a minor thing in the title itself, it’s still a form of cultural appropriation that I didn’t really care for at all.

Overall, I was utterly ( and unexpectedly) thrilled with Meg. I do recommend this novel, more so for folks who don’t mind creature-feature type of stories. Please be aware that it’s extremely detailed, specifically with the sciencey bits. If you’re not into technical information on various science-based subjects, then you may get decidedly bored rather quickly.

3.75 sharkies outta 5!

3 thoughts on “Meg by Steve Alten – A Book Review

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