Sharks are pretty terrifying as far as predators go. They have been around since the age of dinosaurs without changing all that much. Sure, they have gotten smaller; but beyond that their biology is mostly the same. Because in tens of millions of years sharks have remained the top hunters (if it ain’t broke don’t fix it). So, let us take an animal the Steven Spielberg made everyone afraid of and make it bigger. To put this in perspective, Bruce (the shark in Jaws) measured about 25’ long. Our titular Meg in this book measures at 60’ long with a lot more body mass. Bruce would pull you under while the Meg can just swallow you (and your boat) whole.
Meg on the whole is a bit of a Crichton-esque book. It is that type of sci-fi that is just one step ahead of actual science. Just far enough to still be believable. The Meg’s origin and escape into open waters is plausible. As are the massive effects such a predator could have to ecosystems. The book also has the Crichton-level of science, being science-y enough for interested readers but not so much that general audiences get lost.
Jonas serves as a solid main character; a man trapped in the past suddenly thrust into an adventure that could finally move his life forward. A few of the other characters are cliché, like Jonas’ greedy, scheming wife. But this book is ultimately about the Meg, so Steve Alten gives us time to focus on the shark. Everyone who reads this book is reading it for the shark; we do not need a lot of minute character development soaking up time that could be spent on the Meg itself. When you read a story about a big monster, you want to actually see the big monster.
On the whole, Meg is cheesy. Great literature this is not, being closer to Sharknado than Jaws. Ok, maybe not Sharknado; not quite that far off the rails. Closer to maybe Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus. With the film version of The Meg right around the corner, we will see how the theatrical version compares. Since most of the shark movies in the last six years have been Syfy Channel Originals, it will probably be great in comparison. If you enjoy those types of cheesy Man vs. Shark movies, you will enjoy Meg.