Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Book Review: Below, a solid new "creature" novel

Ryan Lockwood
Pinnacle, 2013

Most "creature" novel authors make a lot of mistakes. They rush to get to the creature, they ignore, handwave, or invent the science, and/or they present us with cardboard human characters who readers wish would just get eaten and be done with it.
Lockwood doesn't make any of those mistakes. His technical details of the sea and diving are very interesting, the science behind the animals involved is stretched only a little, and he takes his time introducing a believable story about believable people.
Lockwood's creatures, the Humboldt squid, are a real species, and they do most of what Lockwood has them doing. They are smart, pack-hunting animals 2-3 meters long, that communicate with flashes of color. Lockwood makes them a little too smart and much too emotional, but otherwise they are believably scary. This is a species that could do a lot of damage if it ever collectively decided to check out a new food source like, say, humans. (There have been some scary encounters, and possibly a few unrecorded human deaths, as people study and fish for this numerous and well-armed (the pun is unavoidable) species.)
The book drags in spots, with a little too much lecturing thrown in.  And there are nitpicks: destroyers don't and can't carry guns you could fit a soccer ball into. But overall, kudos to Lockwood. He's given us a first-rate thriller and a little ecological lesson into the bargain. I'll look forward to the sequel.

1 comment:

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