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. 


  1. For some reason, when I opened this review and saw the cover, I assumed that I was in for a "Hanna Pans Book" session and so now that this review has been positive I'm all confused.

    I am in fact scared of sharks (and therefore the sea generally) so *maybe* this one isn't one for me at any time when I'm likely to be going near the sea but I still quite fancy JURASSIC SHARK (genius) one day.

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