by Boyd Morrison
(very good; top 50% of SciThri)
Year published: 2010
Category: science thriller; disaster thriller
Tech rating (out of 5):
SUMMARY (from author’s website):
Honolulu, Hawaii. Tourist Paradise. Hell on Earth.
Over the remote central Pacific, an airliner halfway through its Memorial Day flight from Los Angeles to Sydney is suddenly rocked by a massive explosion. Despite the pilot’s valiant efforts, the blast sends it plummeting into the ocean, leaving no witnesses to the fireball.
Kai Tanaka, the new and untested assistant director of the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Honolulu, notes a minor seismic disturbance in that region but doesn’t make the connection with the lost airplane. There’s no reason to be worried about his wife, who is the manager of a luxury hotel, or his daughter, who is enjoying the sunny holiday morning at Waikiki with friends.
But when all contact with Christmas Island and its three thousand inhabitants is lost, Kai is the first to realize that Hawaii faces a catastrophe of epic proportions: in one hour, a series of massive waves will wipe out Honolulu. He has just sixty minutes to save the lives of a million people, including his wife and daughter.
One word: tsumani. Disaster movie fans, this is the book for you.
If a double feature of 2012 and The Poseidon Adventure is your idea of a splendid Saturday night, you’ll love Rogue Wave.
Boyd Morrison’s novel first appeared as an indie e-book under a different title. Successful sales (and additional novels by author Morrison) led to contracts with a mainstream publisher, and the publication of Rogue Wave in its current form in 2010.
The summary above says about all there is to say about plot, setting, and character. What I can add is, this is truly a fast-paced action thriller, with the characters lurching from one death-defying challenge to another. Technical content (on geology, on government disaster responses) is light but interesting and presumably accurate. The story unfolds in classic disaster movie style: setting up the main characters, the impending disaster, the heroic time-pressed struggle of a group of people to survive.
The terrible recent tsunami tragedy in Japan colors one’s reading of this novel because the events described in many ways closely resemble the real-life event. Some readers might find this distressing, but I think for most people, having seen actual footage of a tsunami wave overwhelming a city gives extra power to Morrison’s scenes (and emphasizes the accuracy of his descriptions).
Parent note: Reluctant readers, especially preteen or teenage boys, might find they can’t put this book down. No sex or gore. Recommended.
Key words: strike-slip fault; Samoan geophysicist; Palymra Atoll; moment magnitude scale; DART buoys; Crawford and Mader