Meg: Primal Waters is the third instalment in the science-fiction, action-adventure series, Meg, written by Steve Alten. After learning that the Meg film will be releasing in August, I decided to re-read Primal Waters so that I could continue with the series and satisfy my building excitement for the upcoming theatrical debut. The book was a disappointment my first time reading through it, and I am sad to say, that it was painfully worse the second time around.
Meg: Primal Waters takes place eighteen years after the events of book two, The Trench. We follow Jonas Taylor as he’s a middle-aged father of two children, married to Terry Tanaka, and struggling terribly to pay off the heavy debts that his family has fallen into. He receives an opportunity to be a host on an adrenaline-junkie show called Daredevils as they get ready to shoot their second season in the oceans around the Mariana Trench. Desperate for cash, a reluctant Jonas accepts the gig. Yet, shortly after the crew kicks off their adventure, it becomes apparent that mysterious forces are at play with vengeance on the brain.
** Please note: There will be minor references to character interactions and interpersonal relationships that can be construed as minor spoilers, depending on the type of reader you are. However, there will be NO major spoilers for the book itself. **
I tried to like this book, I really did, however, between the excruciatingly slow build-up, stale shark attacks, and predictable plot, I found myself feeling impatient and utterly bored with reading it.
The story takes forever to get going. I recognise that there is a level of foundation that must be laid for an action-adventure narrative, but it should not take up 300 pages of the 463-page total. After all of the pieces were placed, it still felt like nothing of real consequence was happening. I would read about the Meg killing so and so, and creating havoc here and there, all the while stifling one yawn after another. There was no anticipation for what was to come; no excitement. I suspect one of the reasons I could not get absorbed in the brutality of what was occurring was because I became fed up with waiting for it to arrive. So…
Another thing I did not care for was the sort of family dysfunction that was created in an effort to add more tension to what is supposed to already be a pretty anxiety-ridden situation, with a gigantic, murderous shark or two roaming the grand ol’ seas and whatnot. The teenage daughter of the Taylor clan is stereotypically ditsy and immature, falls for the narcissistic surfer-type dude, and constantly gets into an argument with her dad about it. I do not understand why people seem to always turn to this trope when they want to create some sort of familiar strife. It is so fucking overused, not to mention quite irritating.
Then you have the marriage between Jonas and Terry, which is tested in relation to fidelity. Automatically this is another horribly hackneyed trope, but what pissed me off the most is how females are always portrayed to be untrustworthy people in Alten’s books, Primal Waters being no exception.
Women are written atrociously in the Meg series. They are superficial as hell, mostly white women, unrealistic in the ways that they interact with men and one another, and always depicted to be traitorous, conniving, and passionately disloyal people who will go to any lengths to satisfy some cockamamie agenda. What is up with that? Even if you have a male character that is a dogmatic, macho, sexist asstart, it is the woman that is always at fault. In Terry’s case, it felt frustratingly uncharacteristic, like the choice she made was added entirely for shock value.
Speaking of shock value, as I mentioned earlier, the shark attacks were also lacklustre and unimpressive. There is a lot of death in this book, which given the Megalodon count, does make sense. Nevertheless, most of the ones that happened, were alarmingly similar to those in prior books. They were not word for word the same, but the situation and descriptives surrounding them came as being wholly unoriginal and a repeat of past events. The same could be said about demises of other animals involving Megs. You had some characters that you knew right off the bat were going to die, mostly from their shitty personalities, and others simply due to the fact that they were fresh faces in convenient death-inducing scenarios. This is where that predictability bit shifts into sixth gear and takes the fuck off.
Other titbits that made me (almost) throw the book against the wall included dialogue that was written in ableist and sexist means; descriptions of women of colour being “exotic” or having skin the colour of some bean or fruit or whatnot; poor representation of addiction, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, women (which I have already ranted about); and some others.
Overall, this book is terrible. I am actually rather upset and angry at myself for not noticing all of these things on my first reading of Primal Waters. Then again, I was super bored then too, so maybe my brain just checked the hell out. A small part of me does want to continue with the series just to see what the hell it will take for the Meg to meet its demise. But the larger part does not want to deal with more terribly written characters and rundown narrative tropes. I suppose only time will tell as I will not be picking up the fourth book in the near future, at the very least.