Meg (MEG #1) by Steve Alten

(MEG #1)

On a top-secret dive into the Pacific Ocean's deepest canyon, Jonas Taylor found himself face-to-face with the largest and most ferocious predator in the history of the animal kingdom. The sole survivor of the mission, Taylor is haunted by what he's sure he saw but still can't prove exists--Carcharodon megalodon, the massive mother of the great white shark. The average prehistoric Meg weighs in at twenty tons and could tear apart a Tyrannosaurus rex in seconds

Written off as a crackpot suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, Taylor refuses to forget the depths that nearly cost him his life. With a Ph.D. in paleontology under his belt, Taylor spends years theorizing, lecturing, and writing about the possibility that Meg still feeds at the deepest levels of the sea. But it takes an old friend in need to get him to return to the water, and a hotshot female submarine pilot to dare him back into a high-tech miniature sub.

Diving deeper than he ever has before, Taylor will face terror like he's never imagined, and what he finds could turn the tides bloody red until the end of time.

Far-fetched but fun = that's the point of these types of books anyway. There's so much that fascinates man about the creatures of the deep, so many hidden horrors beneath the water. This goes farther than Jaws, to the original beast which grew up to 60 feet, the Carcharodon megalodon, a shark that would swallow today's Great Whites. Clearly these creatures went belly up long ago, but the author takes pains to paint a realistic enough plausibility of how one could survive, break the surface, and become a modern day terror.

There's no way this could make a decent movie because of the budget - this shark was huge, and the author takes it on a long ride to destroy many types of vessels, even attack a helicopter, all in the name of giant shark fun. I could have done without some cliche characters like the hard-driven, ambitious, evil wife, but the scene with the shark pod was epic enough to make up for it. Her love interest was unrealistic, though, the weakest character written for the story. Jonas was a main character strong enough to propel this shark-driven story forward - it opens with him lecturing about the legend of the monster, then he's forced to confront his worst fears and make them a new reality.

The pacing is swift and this one is hard to put down. Even if a lot of it is unbelievable, especially a certain escape at the end, that doesn't matter. A few times there's a creep factor, especially when exploring the mariana trench and picturing that triangular head that appears to grin...There's enough science driven in it to keep afloat, plenty of action to invest interest, fun moments, tense and narrow escapes, and even a small nudge toward a sequel with the final page.

I have the fourth one, but it will have to wait until I track down the second and third first.

   Book Quotes:

“If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. But if you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles."

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