The Trench by Steve Alten is the sequel novel to Meg, which is a science-fiction thriller novel about the megalodon (i.e.: ancient, supposedly extinct, Super Saiyan shark the size of Vegeta’s pride). The book takes place four years after the events of Meg. I’m not going to provide a synopsis because I don’t want to give any spoilers to the original novel.
I’m going to admit this first: I really enjoyed this book, maybe even a bit more than the first novel, which is saying a lot because I found Meg to be very pleasant! You can read my full-review for that here, if you’re interested.
There are tons of things to love about The Trench. The suspense grips you from the first 20 pages. Even though you can predict the trigger event that sets up the rest of the plot, its execution was enthralling and fluid. The overall pace is fast. It’s an action-packed ride with scenes involving crazy sea monster battles, plenty of intricately detailed information on nautical technology and science, paleo-biology, geology, and a bit of volcanology.
The characters are both loveable, hate-able, and mildly irritating. The main protagonist from book one, Jonas Taylor, returns with his beautiful love interest. There is a level of growth that he undergoes that was natural as well as realistic, in terms of struggling relationships due to personal baggage. His PTSD is portrayed in a way that felt pragmatic instead of fetishized or patronised. The other character that I hated, well, I hated them with a passion so I suppose they were written spectacularly (if that was the intention).
My only beef is with a new addition to the cast, who’s a wealthy Russian man that has a fondness for spewing random sentences in Latin. Don’t get me wrong: he didn’t aggravate me because he was Russian. He aggravated me because his use of Latin came off jarring and out-of-place at specific points during plot events. In Meg, there was a similar character who occasionally spoke one foreign word and it also had a jarring, unnatural feeling. But his language usage was also a form of mild cultural appropriation, which doesn’t seem to be the case here. This is something that I hope doesn’t carry over into the other Meg books. It will drive me fucking crazy. Batty. Mad, I tell you.
My only other issue with the book were some minor side plot happenings involving the villains. They didn’t really contribute anything of use or interest to the overall story and focus of The Trench. The impression it left was that the author just wanted to add a pinch of intrigue that was wholly separate from shark theatrics. It doesn’t completely hurt the reading experience; it just wasn’t necessary, or it could’ve been executed in a much better manner.
The ending was extremely intense, which is expected, but it also felt like it dragged on forever. I thought that the last 80 pages were “longer” than the rest of the 400 pages. I will confess that I’m not sure if this is a fault of the novel, or if it was due my mounting impatience for just wanting to get through the climactic craziness.
If you like science-fiction thrillers involving terrifying sea creatures that uses realistic gadgets, gismos, and goodies… I totally recommend the Meg series to you (so far!). I’m currently having a great time with it.
4 orcas outta 5!
TRIGGER WARNING: Extreme elements of claustrophobia described in great detail!