I don’t know how you feel about the action/adventure genre, but I need my fix of mayhem quite regularly. I read Clive Cussler (he’s a guilty pleasure), James Rollins (a favorite) and anything by Steve Alten. You may not be familiar with Alten. Several years ago he wrote a book called Meg about an extinct shark species (or so we all thought)…think Jaws on mega-steroids. It could have been something as unbelievable as Jurassic Park (although I loved that one too), but Alten’s writing is so intelligent and filled with geology and paleozoology that it just sucks you in. At least it sucks me in, but then I’ve spent most of my life immersed in the past since by profession I’m an archaeologist. Although dinosaurs have nothing to do with archaeology (and I find myself explaining that over and over), the phases of Earth and life thereon is endlessly fascinating to me.
Anyway Alten has written four Meg novels with another upcoming. The book I just finished, Meg: Hell’s Aquarium, is the continuation of the Meg saga. It’s honestly non-stop adventure skipping between the site of a research center located near Monterrey, California, and the over the top decadence of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. I think they should call Dubai the Las Vegas of the Middle East although Vegas is left in the dust when it comes to hedonism.
Now we mix scientific study with incredible wealth and see that the two just don’t mesh, at least not when it comes to big…and I mean big…fish. It’s the Disney attraction value that we see in Jurassic Park played out in deep water…35,000 feet of water. There’s very little wiggle room when it comes to the Ocean Abyss as we see in this novel.
The storyline revolves around an elderly researcher (Jonas Taylor), his very young but eager son (David Taylor) and a Dubai businessman (bin Rashidi) intent on gathering the biggest and the baddest marine life he can for his new aquarium. Bin Rashidi has his eye on one of the megalodons (huge sharks) that Jonas has housed in his center. After buying two juveniles and shipping them from Monterrey to Dubai, only one lives. This sets bin Rashidi on a path to increase his collection and he believes that he has discovered the location, the Mariana Trench, where more undiscovered marine life can still be found.
The adventure begins. There is action, romance (of course because Alten is a man you can’t expect the satisfying happily-ever-after romance of Nora Roberts and others of her ilk), and more speculative geology and zoology than you can imagine. You’ll love this novel, but you may not go in the water again!
Review by Pam Headrick