I have always loved a good monster book. I have been fascinated by dinosaurs and sharks from the time I was old enough to read and I wanted to see the movie Jaws in the worst way. The first time I saw anything about Meg: A Novel of Deep Terror, I was watching The Today Show and they were interviewing Steve Alten. He was relaying his tremendous good luck and getting his book noticed just in the nick of time to save his family’s home. That story intrigued me enough to keep listening to hear what the book was about. The word “Carcharadon” caught my attention because I knew what that meant: a book about a large shark that was feared by people. Just my kind of book.
The first few pages of the book sucked me in and I haven’t looked back. I’ll review Alten’s other Meg books because they are every bit as thrilling as our first real introduction to Carcharadon megalodon. In the first section of Meg, we are back in the time when dinosaurs roamed the earth. Herbivorous dinosaurs tried to stay away from the carnivores on land but rarely had to worry about the carnivores in the sea. Our opening sea reveals an intense battle between a T. rex, a dinosaur everyone is familiar with, and a lowly plant-eater. Trying to escape the T. rex, our scared dinosaur swims out to where the T. rex cannot stand, only to become aware of a worse threat. In a strange twist, the T. rex becomes the hunted as it gets bogged down in the ocean’s soft floor and Carcharadon megalodon is introduced to us: king of the dinosaur age, ruler of the seas.
The book then brings to modern times, when Professor Jonas Taylor is giving a lecture. Steve Alten does a tremendous job of fleshing out this character that we root for over and over again in the Meg series so far. Jonas Taylor is an ex-Navy submarine pilot who panicked when he thought he saw a giant white shark rising up to meet his submarine while doing a research dive in the deep trenches of the Marianas. His Navy career was in shambles when he decided to try to prove to the world why the species Carcharadon megalodon might actually exist in deep ocean trenches.
Alten allows us to get a good feel for what Jonas is like and the life he leads. We can picture the man and his beautiful wife. We can see the growing void between them. Just as we are about to wonder if Jonas will ever get his chance at redemption in his life, Masao Tanaka calls in a favor of his friend Professor Taylor. He needs help to rescue his life’s work, a whale lagoon, from losing its funding. Jonas must overcome his fear of the depths and pilot a submersible once more.
Taking a deep-sea vessel to the bottom of the Mariana Trench, Jonas makes the discovery of a lifetime: he was right! The prehistoric shark really does exist and he fights for his life and the life of many others as he battles the fierce creature that follows a bloody trail up from the depths into the waters that man likes to think he owns. Terror, blood, and death ensues by the novel-ful. Far-fetched for some people, but a great read for anyone who likes to imagine what life would be like if this creature really did exist. Jonas wins in the end and defeats the first Meg. But there will be others, you can count on it!