I’ve said this before. While primarily a movie site, every now and then at MonsterZero NJ’s Movie Madhouse I do crank out a book review if it’s something I think warrants attention or is simply movie related. Steve Alten’s prehistoric shark thriller MEG, has been designated to be filmed for decades but, has spent just as long in development hell. Now it’s been announced that filmmaker and movie geek personality Eli Roth has been signed to direct the most recent attempt. Will Roth finally get this flick in the can? Only time will tell. So, how is the actual book?…
MEG by STEVE ALTEN
Been curious about this book for a while and now that it’s once again being announced as a movie, I thought I would finally check it out. It’s a fast paced and fun read but, I can definitely see where certain set pieces would be tough to translate to film. Some for their massive scale and some because, in the wrong hands, they could come off as very silly.
The book focuses on likable hero Professor Jonas Taylor who was once one of the best deep sea explorers on the planet, till an incident that claimed the lives of two of his crew…an incident he claims was with a massive predator that hasn’t swam the seas for millions of years. Since then, Jonas has not been on a dive and has spent his time studying the prehistoric shark known as the Megalodon and how it might have survived in deep water canyons miles below the surface. There are those that think he’s crazy, but, there are those like Masao Tanaka, who might believe him. At Tanaka’s bidding, he gets the chance to return to the depths of the deepest canyon on Earth and finds his theories frighteningly correct. The beasts still live! A horrible series of events then bring a 60 foot female Megalodon up to the surface and now Jonas must hunt the very creature no one believed him existed. A hungry creature on a murderous rampage and heading for the California coast.
Overall, this is a tight and action packed story that moves like a rocket and there is a lot of gory carnage caused by our massive female carnivore. It is only in some of the soap opera level sub-plots and melodramatics, such as a really dull scenario with Jonas’ ambitious witch of a wife, Maggie, where the book produces eye rolling and groans. Maggie Taylor could have been removed from the book totally without hurting the plot and similar sub-plots are equally corny, predictable and cliché. Jonas has a shrew of a wife and Tanaka has a hot daughter…you know where that is going from the early pages. It’s also hurt by a completely ludicrous final confrontation with the monster shark that might be one reason the film has yet to be made. It will be tough to translate to film without coming across as silly…then again, Spielberg was able to give Jaws a far more cinematic ending, maybe Roth can do the same. This still is a fun book and flaws aside a perfectly suitable Summer read. It’s got likable heroes and some detestable human villains and of course a hungry 60 foot prehistoric great white on the loose. Give it some slack and it is an entertaining enough read to pass the time at the beach or the park. And the best thing about a movie adaptation is that a talented writer could fix those flaws for the movie.
3 Megalodon teeth!