Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Review: The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. by Neal Stephenson and Nicole Galland

UK book cover of The Rise and Fall of Dodo by Neal Stephenson
I knew as soon as I stumbled across this book online that we were destined to be together. A chunky book about a time-travelling government department attempting to reinstate magic? Yes please. DEFINITELY yes. So when I accidentally stumbled across a signed copy in London's Forbidden Planet, I honestly didn't shut up about it for days. I got home, read it immediately... and still haven't shut up about it. Sorry everyone (but not that sorry).

Plot summary:
1851 England
The Great Exhibition at London’s Crystal Palace has opened, celebrating the rise of technology and commerce. With it the power of magic – in decline since the industrial revolution began – is completely snuffed out. The existence of magic begins its gradual devolution into mere myth.

21st Century America
Magic has faded from the minds of mankind, until an encounter between Melisande Stokes, linguistics expert at Harvard, and Tristan Lyons, shadowy agent of government, leads to the uncovering of a distant past.
After translating a series of ancient texts, Melisande and Tristan discover the connection between science, magic and time travel and so the Department of Diachronic Operations – D.O.D.O. – is hastily brought into existence. Its mission: to develop a device that will send their agents back to the past, where they can stop magic from disappearing and alter the course of history.

But when you interfere with the past, there’s no telling what you might find in your future…

I loved this book. Loved, loved, loved this book. I always knew I was going to, but I feel like it defied even my highest of expectations.

It's almost like a way more detailed and technical version of The Chronicles of St Mary's series - I always complained that the concept was great but it was hugely lacking in detail - and now we have The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. In this book, we get to see the creation of the organisation from the ground up, as the machines are invented and the concept of D.O.D.O. (Department of Diachronic Operations) comes together. It could be boring, but it's not. It's time travel and so I will suck up every scrap of detail and love it.

It's told through a variety of different formats, but not so many that it becomes wearing (I'm looking at you, Illuminae). We mostly see mission reports and journal entries, but there's the odd internal company memo or policy briefing to add a dry and fun sense of humour. I wasn't over keen on the letters from Grainne O'Malley (a 16th Century witch) as I really didn't like her and they dragged on a bit but, looking back, they probably were necessary to the overarching plot, so I won't complain too much.

Ohhhhhh, the plot. It's ingenious. A lot of time is spent on setting the scene and I loved every second. However, the actual over-arching point of the novel is deeply hidden and quite subtle, so that you start to feel genuine little twinges of anxiety before you even really know what's going on. It's hard to pinpoint, but it's there. When it really gets going, towards the end, my stomach actually hurt, I cared so deeply about the characters.  It's honestly a masterpiece.

Of course you get some detail of their time-travelling exploits - what's the point of a time travel book otherwise!? I loved Melisande travelling back to bury a rare book, and managing to navigate the 16th Century slightly better every time she headed back. I'd probably have liked more of that, but not at the expense of the amazing plot so I'll pipe down. There's a reasonable amount there anyway, in fairness.

I can only imagine how long it took Neal Stephenson and Nicole Galland to plan this book. Not only the set-up of D.O.D.O. but the intertwining threads of narrative that come together to make absolute sense. It is time travel, after all - it's not meant to be simple. This is the only book I've read by these authors, but I've already added a few more to my wishlist.

The only problem with The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. is that I was torn between frantically needing to read it, but then not wanting to read it because then I'd have finished it and couldn't read it anymore... *breathes into a paper bag*

Visit Neal Stephenson's website here, or find him on Twitter. 
Nicole Galland can be found here. 

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Review: The Radium Girls by Kate Moore

UK book cover for The Radium Girls by Kate Moore
Arrrrrrgh, this book. This book, this book, this book. I've been putting off reviewing it for ages because my notes are a garbled mess of exclamation points, page numbers and quotes, and every time I think about this book my heart (and head) hurt all over again. It's a brilliant, brilliant book and, even if you can't make it to the end of this mess of a review, I really encourage you to read it.

Summary: 1917. As a war raged across the world, young American women flocked to work, painting watches, clocks and military dials with a special luminous substance made from radium. It was a fun job, lucrative and glamorous – the girls themselves shone brightly in the dark, covered head to toe in the dust from the paint. They were the radium girls.

As the years passed, the women began to suffer from mysterious and crippling illnesses. The very thing that had made them feel alive – their work – was in fact slowly killing them: they had been poisoned by the radium paint. Yet their employers denied all responsibility. And so, in the face of unimaginable suffering – in the face of death – these courageous women refused to accept their fate quietly, and instead became determined to fight for justice.

Drawing on previously unpublished sources – including diaries, letters and court transcripts, as well as original interviews with the women’s relatives – The Radium Girls is an intimate narrative account of an unforgettable true story. It is the powerful tale of a group of ordinary women from the Roaring Twenties, who themselves learned how to roar.

This is technically a non-fiction work about the women who earned a living by painting luminescent dials on watches in the 1920s. I say 'technically,' because I have never cried this much over a non-fiction book (or any fiction book either, in fairness). The tone is a rarely-seen perfect mix of the emotional and the technical - although every single page contains near constant quotes from the women and their families, the remaining text tells the women's story with a very sympathetic narrative.

That's not a criticism. I never felt like I was being emotionally manipulated and it would be very, very difficult to write a book of this nature and be objective. Aside from the original horror of the women being told to put radium in their mouths in the first place, they were lied to nigh-on continuously by the company and even so-called medical experts. Their bodies collapsed, their hearts broke and their bank accounts emptied, but the company continued to Appeal, even after the Courts had already made a decision.

The tone of the text is light and very accessible, but the subject is not. Their jaw bones literally fell out of their mouths. There are photographs in the middle of the book - most are included to emphasise that these women were real, human, living people (temporarily, at any rate) but there are a few that show the size of tumours, disintegrated bones, etc. There is one particular photo that I kept turning back to and I cried every single time I looked at it. One of the women collapsed during a Court hearing after she was told that her condition was fatal (her well-intentioned doctors had decided to keep this information from her) and a photographer somehow got a shot mid-collapse. It really demonstrates the lack of knowledge provided to these women and their emotional state at that time.

There aren't words to describe how much these women suffered. It's not just the physical horrors, but the way they were treated. One woman was posthumously slapped with a 'syphilis' label even though there was no indication of any sexually transmitted disease and another woman's body was pretty much stolen from the hospital by the organisation before the family could pay their respects. They were shunned by their communities for creating trouble for the factories that provided jobs for local people and some of the women's husbands became jealous of their (later) wealth and threatened to gas them.

I cried on a train, I cried on a bus and I cried in a cafe. This was real, this happened and people did nothing. My eyes are watering with angry tears as I write this six weeks after I read it.

It's very hard to separate the topic from the book, but I'm going to try because I don't think Kate Moore's skill deserves to be overshadowed by the tragedy she writes about. She writes very well - to say that a good 300 pages of The Radium Girls is about a legal battle, it flows, it's interesting and it's engrossing. She has clearly put a tremendous amount of effort into research and interviewing the relatives of the deceased, and she appears to genuinely care about the plight suffered of the radium girls. 
And Grace Fryer was never forgotten. She is still remembered now – you are still remembering her now. As a dial-painter, she glowed gloriously from the radium powder; but as a woman, she shines through history with an even brighter glory: stronger than the bones that broke inside her body; more powerful than the radium that killed her or the company that shamelessly lied through its teeth; living longer than she ever did on earth, because she now lives on in the hearts and memories of those who know her only from her story.

Please read this book. Firstly, it's important that we acknowledge these brave and strong individuals who were so profoundly abused in so many different ways. Their bodies and their fight went on to form the basis of ground-breaking legislation that is still in place in the US today, and allowed for progress to be made with preventing radiation toxicity in others. They were ignored and shunned when they were alive, and that was not acceptable. At least now we can look back and retrospectively apologise.

Secondly, I'm desperate to talk about this book so hurry up and read it! I want to talk about the women, the people and especially how radium affected the whole town. The factory was eventually used as a meat locker - so naturally everybody who ate the meat became severely ill. After that the factory was knocked down... and the rubble was deposited around town. Dogs died prematurely, citizens developed an inordinate amount of tumours... you get the idea. I want to talk about it. 

Lastly, it's just a brilliant, brilliant book. Kate Moore is a wonderful writer who has tackled an extremely difficult subject with dignity and grace. Every second that I wasn't reading this book, I wanted to be. It's riveting and completely engrossing.

So there, you go. Read The Radium Girls because it's important, discussion-provoking and enjoyable.
Read Ellie's review of The Radium Girls at Curiosity Killed the Bookworm. 

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Review: A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan

Book cover of A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan
It really profoundly irritates me that I've had the opportunity to read this since 2014, when A Natural History of Dragons was first published. Did I read it? No. Did I even consider buying it? No. And this, people, is why I shouldn't be trusted with my Book Blogger Practising Certificate. 

Plot summary: All the world, from Scirland to the farthest reaches of Eriga, know Isabella, Lady Trent, to be the world's preeminent dragon naturalist. She is the remarkable woman who brought the study of dragons out of the misty shadows of myth and misunderstanding into the clear light of modern science. But before she became the illustrious figure we know today, there was a bookish young woman whose passion for learning, natural history, and, yes, dragons defied the stifling conventions of her day.

Here at last, in her own words, is the true story of a pioneering spirit who risked her reputation, her prospects, and her fragile flesh and bone to satisfy her scientific curiosity; of how she sought true love and happiness despite her lamentable eccentricities; and of her thrilling expedition to the perilous mountains of Vystrana, where she made the first of many historic discoveries that would change the world forever.

I loved this book from the very first page. I was completely hooked by the premise which, for some reason, I'd never bothered to take in for three whole years, even though this is absolutely my sort of book. 

Lady Trent writes her memoirs from several decades in the future, when she's clearly an accomplished scholarly adventurer of some renown. In her twilight years, she has taken some leisure time to finally write an honest account in response to the hundreds of letters she receives from young fans, clamouring for details on her exploits. This results in a charming first person narrative that has the benefit of hindsight - the elderly Lady Trent looks back on her younger self with some fondness (and occasionally frustration) and muses on how the world has changed.

Not a day goes by that the post does not bring me at least one letter from a young person (or sometimes one not so young) who wishes to follow in my footsteps and become a dragon naturalist. Nowadays, of course, the field is quite respectable, with university courses and intellectual societies putting out fat volumes titled Proceedings of some meeting or other. Those interested in respectable things, however, attend my lectures. The ones who write to me invariably want to hear about my adventures: my escape from captivity in the swamps of Mouleen, or my role in the great Battle of Keonga, or (most frequently) my flight to the inhospitable heights of the Mrtyahaima peaks, the only place on earth where the secrets of dragonkind could be unlocked.  
This does not interrupt the action-filled plot in the slightest, however. In A Natural History of Dragons, Isabella (as she then was) tags along to the perilous mountain region of Vystrana, at the affectionate sufferance of her somewhat bemused husband. She's slightly out of her depth, but determined to prove that she can be a useful addition to the party due to her lifelong love of dragons.

Isabella's favourite topic is, of course, the natural history of dragons and the narrative spends some time discussing her theories on their anatomy and whether they have since been proved correct. However, as she's writing from a more advanced age, she recognises that are other books (including her own) that detail these issues and so she has chosen to focus on the more personal and exciting aspects of her adventures.

Sparkling illustration - Lady Isabella Trent - Natural History of Dragons - Marie BrennanAnd hey, it's dragons! I'm more than willing to sit through discussions regarding the provenance of a dragon's fiery breath. It helps that the novel is interspersed with beautiful illustrations sketched by 'Isabella' herself. 

The overarching plot relates to the sudden aggression shown by the dragons in the Vystrana region and the potentially related disappearance of their pre-arranged guide. It's a really good story, with some really clever ideas and plot devices that I just didn't see coming.

In short, I have absolutely nothing negative to say about A Natural History of Dragons and I genuinely wish that I'd read this three years ago. I've actually already bought the next two books in the series and I'm eyeing up The Tropic of Serpents already. Definitely read this - it's charming, well-written and a great story.

Visit Marie Brennan's website, or find her on Twitter. 

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Review: Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel

UK book cover of Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel
So one day I roll up to work without a book, which is quite a distressing situation considering I work about an hour away by public transport. Naturally I go to the library to grab a book (or four, actually, but that's a whole other issue) with which to entertain myself on the way home. One of these, and the book I actually started reading, was Sleeping Giants. I knew nothing about it going in but it turned out to be amazing.

Plot summary: Deadwood, USA. A girl sneaks out just before dark to ride her new bike. Suddenly, the ground disappears beneath her. Waking up at the bottom of a deep pit, she sees an emergency rescue team above her. The people looking down see something far stranger...

That girl grows up to be Dr. Rose Franklyn, a brilliant scientist and the leading world expert on what she discovered. An enormous, ornate hand made of an exceptionally rare metal, which predates all human civilisation on the continent.

An object whose origins and purpose are perhaps the greatest mystery humanity has ever faced. Solving the secret of where it came from - and how many more parts may be out there - could change life as we know it.

But what if we were meant to find it? And what happens when this vast, global puzzle is complete...?

I think it's probably best to read Sleeping Giants without knowing too much about the plot, like I did, so I'm going to keep it vague. Suffice it to say that the story just flies past and I'd finished the book before I knew it.

It's not told in the standard, narrative prose. Instead, it's comprised of a series of interviews conducted by a myserious, yet ever present, figure. Part of the mystery is determining exactly who this individual is, and why he's so interested in the recently discovered rare metal. The interviews allow each of the characters to move the story on, but also to share their own views and opinions which are occasionally controversial.

It works really well - you never actually see anything happen, as you're told about everything second-hand, but it still somehow feels like an action-packed novel. It also means that you can feel the characters reactions more viscerally than if you were merely reading it from the distance of a third person voice.

The plot takes some quite dark turns, which demonstrate that it's clearly not meant for a younger audience. I think I might have actually gasped twice. It's a very odd experience, being shocked by an event that you're reading one person relay to another, and it possibly makes even more of an impact.

Sleeping Giants ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, but quite an obvious one. I did see it coming, but it's a twist that I feel positive about so I can't say I really mind. I've already reserved the next book, Waking Gods, at the library and I'm definitely looking forward to reading it.

I'd really recommend this book if you're looking for accessible, action-packed sci-fi with a dark twist.

Visit Sylvain Neuvel's blog here, or find him on Twitter.

Monday, 18 September 2017

Review: Where Am I Now? True Stories of Girlhood and Accidental Fame by Mara Wilson

UK book cover of Where Am I Now? by Mara Wilson
For the benefit of those of you slightly younger than me and for those of similar age who were living under a rock during their childhood, Mara Wilson was the child actress who starred in Matilda, Mrs Doubtfire, Miracle on 34th Street, etc. She doesn't act much anymore but after stumbling across her Twitter and, subsequently, her blog, I desperately wanted to read her recent memoir.

Summary: Mara Wilson has always felt a little young and a little out of place: as the only child on a film set full of adults, the first daughter in a house full of boys, the sole clinically depressed member of the cheerleading squad, a valley girl in New York and a neurotic in California, and one of the few former child actors who has never been in jail or rehab. Tackling everything from how she first learned about sex on the set of Melrose Place, to losing her mother at a young age, to getting her first kiss (or was it kisses?) on a celebrity canoe trip, to not being “cute” enough to make it in Hollywood, these essays tell the story of one young woman’s journey from accidental fame to relative (but happy) obscurity. But they also illuminate a universal struggle: learning to accept yourself, and figuring out who you are and where you belong.

I loved this book from the second I started flicking through it on the train on the way home, and from the minute I began sneaking pages when I was meant to be cleaning. The Boy is used to this by now, however, and my wails of 'BUT IT'S MATILDA!' did not prevent the obligatory eye roll and dramatic presentation of furniture polish.

It's brilliant because I now love Mara Wilson both as a person, and because she can actually write really, really well. I admit that I haven't given her a whole lot of thought since I last turned off Matilda because, well, why would I? I had no idea what she was doing with herself nowadays and it hadn't occurred to me to wonder. I probably wouldn't have reserved her book if I hadn't had a glimpse of her writing on her blog and felt compelled to read more.

Adult Mara WilsonI really love that it's not a chronological memoir - it's not 'I was born here and then I did this, and then I went to this school...', but it's not really an essay collection either. It's a wonderful blend of those two things. It is about Mara's life and her experiences, obviously, but cutting out the boring bits that come with chronological memoirs, and without briefly skating past topics like with the standard essay-style collections.

Topics include her experiences with competitive choir as a teenager, her childhood anxious existentialism, the need for feminism and, of course, her transition from childhood star to... not. I adore how candid she is about this period of her life. She freely admits that she was a cute child who grew up to not really conform to the Hollywood standards of beauty, so she was Out. She puts it much more bluntly, of course:
Even with my braces off, with contact lenses and a better haircut, I was always going to look the way I did. I knew I wasn’t a gorgon, but I guessed that if ten strangers were to look at a photo of me, probably about four or five of them would find me attractive. That would not be good enough for Hollywood, where an actress had to be attractive to eight out of ten people to be considered for even the homely best friend character.  
 I (now) know that she has experience in writing (both academically and through her one-man shows, etc) so perhaps it's it's only to be expected, but she writes very well. Not just '... for a celebrity,' but it's actually, objectively, good. I felt angry when she was describing the joys of seeing comparisons of your childhood and adult faces of the Internet when you least expect it, and I teared up when she was expressing her sadness over the loss of Robin Williams. She's very self-deprecating and never woe-is-me, but you end up sharing her emotions, or at least those she chooses to project.

Every week or so, a well‑meaning friend or fan sends me an article about me. Below some variation of “What Do They Look Like Now?” there is inevitably an unflattering photo of me and hundreds of comments from people who think I'm ugly.

Some are delighted, schadenfreudic: I was once paid to be cute, but now the child actor curse has caught up with me, and I'm not so cute anymore, am I? Others seem angry. My image belongs to them and they aren’t happy that I don’t match up to what they pictured. This type is the most likely to give advice: I should colour my hair, get a nose job, lose twenty pounds, go die in a hole somewhere.

There are, of course, humorous anecdotes about shooting those iconic films with Danny DeVito and Robin Williams. There's a whole chapter dedicated to the former, which was expected, but none the less moving for it.

I'm gushing, I know, but Where Am I Now? is a wonderful, surprising book, and one that I wanted to reread immediately after finishing it. I feel that I now know more of her as an insightful, self-deprecating person, not just a former childstar. I'll honestly read anything she ever writes. 

Visit Mara's blog, Mara Wilson Writes Stuff, or find her on Twitter. 

Friday, 1 September 2017

August 2017 Wrap-Up

I just have no idea where this month has gone. I've started a new job, my housing situation has completely changed and now I spend half my evenings grudgingly waiting to be woken up by a small crying child.

I haven't been reading all that much, so it surprised me when I realised I've finished nine books this month. Not as much as normal, but the second half of the month was very chaotic. I'm hoping things will settle down and I can get back to reading more because I miss it.

It didn't help that two books - The Haunted Hotel and The Dark Circle seemed to take forever to finish, and The Shadow Rising (which is the book after The Dragon Reborn pictured - I just couldn't find it) actually did take forever. At 1,006 pages long it really felt like it was dragging and I was getting quite frustrated.


The Haunted Hotel by Wilkie Collins
One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus
The Power by Naomi Alderman
The Shadow Rising (Wheel of Time #4) by Robert Jordan
Meg by Steve Alten 
The Dark Circle by Linda Grant
Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel


Magician's Gambit (Belgariad #3) by David Eddings


Where Am I Now? by Mara Wilson

It's weird, but it seems like every book I read in August is a candidate for either the 'Best of August' or 'The Worst of August' categories. I just haven't read a lot of middle-ground books this month.

The Power completely blew me away when I read it, but then Meg was a fun read, Sleeping Giants was an unexpected gem and Where Am I Now? made me cry in three places and want to be instant best friends with the author.

I barely managed to finish The Dark Circle because it was written so badly, The Haunted Hotel and The Shadow Rising sent me to sleep, and I have major issues with One of Us is Lying.

All this will be explained in reviews, but I quite frankly just haven't had time this month. Still, I'm grateful that I've read some really great books this month and I'm looking forward to talking about them.

Best Book of August 2017:
 Where Am I Now? by Mara Wilson

I've had way, way too many books come into my house this month. Twenty-three in total. And I've read nine, one of which was a reread. Great.

The pile in the middle is my birthday pile - the lovely Charlotte bought me a copy of Maus, which I've been dying to read forever and also The Unseen World, which we're going to buddy read at some point. I also used Amazon vouchers to buy Strange the Dreamer, A Natural History of Dragons and The Radium Girls. I'm super excited about all of these, particularly the latter which is non-fiction about the young women encouraged to use radium as make-up before the dangers were properly understood, but obviously I have read none of them yet. Figures. I'm hoping to start The Radium Girls this weekend though.

The pile on the right is my library pile, of which I have actually read three, in fairness. Admittedly I've now had most of them for three weeks. There's an amazing new library literally a two minute walk from my new office and they have so many new releases that I got over-excited. I've read Sleeping Giants, The Dark Circle and Where Am I Now?  

The pile on the left is my usual Hanna-Can't-Control-Herself pile. Charity shops, book swaps, the usual suspects.

How many books have you read this month? Have you read any of my TBR pile? Which should I read next?

Review: Meg by Steve Alten

Book cover of Meg by Steve Alten
Alright, so it's hardly a literary masterpiece. It's not going to win any prizes and the author isn't up for a Novel any time soon. Meg, however, is currently being made into a movie featuring Jason Statham and Rainn Wilson, and the book itself is, quite frankly, awesome.

High praise considering I'm scared of fish.

Plot summary: On a top-secret dive into the Pacific Ocean's deepest canyon, Jonas Taylor found himself face-to-face with the largest and most ferocious predator in the history of the animal kingdom. The sole survivor of the mission, Taylor is haunted by what he's sure he saw but still can't prove exists - Carcharodon megalodon, the massive mother of the great white shark. The average prehistoric Meg weighs in at twenty tons and could tear apart a Tyrannosaurus rex in seconds. Taylor spends years theorizing, lecturing, and writing about the possibility that Meg still feeds at the deepest levels of the sea. But it takes an old friend in need to get him to return to the water, and a hotshot female submarine pilot to dare him back into a high-tech miniature sub. Diving deeper than he ever has before, Taylor will face terror like he's never imagined. MEG is about to surface. When she does, nothing and no one is going to be safe, and Jonas must face his greatest fear once again.

In the interest of full disclosure, I'm scared of fish, not sharks. And yes, I'm well aware that sharks are technically fish, blah blah blah. But I'm scared of the more traditional fish (goldfish, carp, trout, etc) instead of the ones that could actually, you know, hurt me. Justifiably, therefore, setting aside my phobia as an irrelevant aside, Meg is still great and still really creepy.  

It's a fairly standard pulpy action novel, but I enjoyed every second, and not just because I was amusing myself by muttering Jurassic SHARK! to myself every few seconds. There's a lot of action in the very fast-paced plot and that's written very well. At one point when I couldn't sleep I had to be reminded that it was inherently unlikely that a 60 foot shark was about to come crashing through the wall, so I could probably chill out.

I really like the plot. It's not ingeniously unique, but apparently the author has been studying Megalodons for more than a decade and it shows. The detail and near-reverence with which he describes the prehistoric sea creatures are fascinating. He also provides a believable premise as to how the Megalodons have remained undiscovered for so long - a theory which is supported by some scientists in the real world. The mechanical equipment and submersibles are perhaps a little too detailed, but the man clearly knows what he's talking about. 
No other scavengers approached the Megalodon as it fed in the tropical waters. It had no mate to share its kill with, no young to feed. The Meg was a companionless creature, territorial by nature. It mated when it must and killed its young when it could, for the only challenge to its reign came from its own kind. It could adapt and survive the natural catastrophes and climatic changes that caused the mass extinctions of the giant reptiles and countless prehistoric mammals. And while its numbers would eventually dwindle, some members of its species might survive, isolated from the world of man, hunting in the isolated darkness of the ocean depths. 
The prose is acceptable, probably to about a Dan Brown level. It's not a masterpiece, but it's mostly definitely readable without being irritated. The dialogue is a bit clunky at times but that's survivable as well.

My only complaint about Meg at all, is one of the female characters. It's not a huge part of the book by any stretch of the imagination but she did really annoy me - complaining that the protagonist was being sexist, when he really wasn't in the slightest. I'm not sure if the author was trying to appeal to the female readers or if he was trying to be funny or what, but it's frustrating.

Oh! And the ending was a bit far-fetched and odd. 

Still though, I really recommend you read Meg, for a fun and thrilling adventure  involving giant prehistoric sharks. And I can 95% guarantee that they won't come crashing through your bedroom wall.

Read more about Steve Alten's books here. 

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