Wednesday, June 3, 2009


Steve Alten
Variance Publishing

Review by Craig Harvey

We're all afraid of the dark. It's ingrained in our very being. Even after millions of years of evolution we still fear the unknown lurking in the blackness. In Steve Alten's world, the dark lies in the bone crushing depths of the black abyss miles below the ocean's surface where monstrous creatures long thought extinct still thrive. For Jonas Taylor and his family the stakes have been raised as they face not only these abominations, but the sixty foot megalodon Angel and her vicious new offspring still kept caged and bloodthirsty. For fans of the MEG series "Hell's Aquarium" brings us back once again to the world of Carcharodon Megalodon; the apex predator of all time. Or so we thought. Yes Dorothy, there are worse things lurking in the ocean besides prehistoric sharks. In the second book of the series "The Trench" giant Kronosaurs were discovered in the Mariana Trench, where Jonas Taylor had first glimpsed Angel's mother years before. That was just icing on the cake, because this time, the true monsters of the deep make their appearance and believe me, it's worse than anyone could have imagined.

The story begins with Angel and her two offspring still in captivity at the Tanaka Institute and Jonas seemingly having things under lock and key. But as fate would have it, this doesn't last long. Death and tragedy seem to surround Angel and her brood like a curse. Things begin to look up however, when a wealthy Dubai prince seeks to purchase the pups to be displayed in the largest aquarium in the world being built in his homeland. He even wants Jonas's son David to supervise the transition and care of the sharks in Dubai for the summer. However, the prince has another, far more dangerous objective for David; one that will test the entire Taylor family to their breaking points and beyond. A hidden and untouched world of prehistoric nightmares await beneath the Phillippine Sea Plate dubbed Panthalassa. For over 220 million years it has remained untouched and undiscovered by man, until now. The mission: to dive below into this pristine and deadly new world and lure some of these creatures up to be captured for the aquarium, and he wants David to lead the way.

I have to say of the Meg series this is my favorite. I have loved them all but "Hell's Aquarium" brings back the intensity I felt when Jonas first encountered the giant shark and faced his demons in the first book. But the greatest thing of the series is Alten's gift of making his fiction believable, his characters living, breathing, entities and not just words on paper. His best asset is the ability to blend a fantasy of what could possibly exist, yet stay firmly grounded in reality. He does his homework consulting the right people to get the science plausible without sacrificing what matters most; a great story. He crafts novels that will captivate you from the moment you start reading. Alten does that and more with "Hell's Aquarium." I guarantee fans of the series won't sleep a wink until they finish the last page of the best Meg novel yet.

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