by Steve Alten

(very good; top 50% of SciThri)

Year published: 1997
Category: science thriller

Tech rating (out of 5):

SUMMARY {modified from the back cover}:

On a top-secret dive seven miles down into the Mariana Trench, Navy deep-sea submersible pilot Jonas Taylor came face-to-face with an ancient monster everyone believed extinct. Barely escaping with his life, Jonas wants to prove that Carcharodon megalodon—Meg, a seventy foot great white shark—still exists. He takes an opportunity to return to the trench, intent on returning with a seven-inch white tooth. But man’s presence in this extreme domain releases one of the sharks from its purgatory, and now Jonas is the only one who can stop it.


I approached this novel with low expectations (c’mon, a killer shark story? really?), but Meg surprised me as much as she surprised many of her hapless victims. Meg is a terrific vacation read, though you might not want to read it on a cruise ship or while sitting at the beach :). A true page-turner, Alten’s debut novel begs to be read quickly and urgently.

Jonas Taylor’s life is pretty well washed up, professionally and personally, since his mental breakdown following the disaster miles below the ocean’s surface. But he’s the best man for the job of piloting a submersible back into the trench, and at the request of an old friend, he faces his fears and goes under, hoping to retrieve the proof that will resurrect his scientific career.

He retrieves far more proof of Meg’s existence than anyone wanted.

The plot rolls through assorted shark attacks of ever-increasing intensity, the manipulation of Jonas’s unfaithful wife, and a race to capture the monster before it’s too late.

What I enjoyed most about Meg: great use of fascinating science to educate the reader about the prehistoric shark’s remarkable senses; info about the Trench and how Meg might have survived there; a nonstop plot. Weaknesses of the book: thin characters whose deaths nobody cares about; a ridiculous plot element at the climax which resolves Jonas’s tale.

Settings of interest: the Mariana Trench; in Northern California, Monterey Bay and the Farallon Islands

This book was rated #1 choice for Reluctant Readers by the Young Adult Library Services Association

Steve Alten’s Meg series:
Meg (1997); The Trench (1999); Meg: Primal Waters (2005); Meg: Hell’s Aquarium (2009)

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