Review: Shark Island by Chris Jameson

Shark Island
By Chris Jameson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I've been racking my brain trying to think of the last shark book I read, and come to think of it, I don't think I've read any proper shark-fic. I've read books with giant squids, aquatic parasites, and oceans full of otherworldly terrors, but have somehow managed to avoid Great Whites altogether. So, consider this my first proper introduction to this popular horror staple, and just in time for Shark Week!

After reading Shark Island, I can certainly see the appeal behind this particular sub-genre, and this book is pretty well crafted and entertaining as all get-out. Naomi is a shark attack survivor, and one year after her near-death experience she joins the scientific crew of the Thaumas to document their efforts in relocating a massive proliferation of seals off the Massachusetts coastline. The plan is to use an acoustic wave to target the seals, get them to follow the Thaumas and relocate them to the remote island of Bald Cap. The seals essentially become bait to help move the sharks away from the Cape Cod shoreline, but the acoustic signal has some unexpected side-effects (well, to the scientists anyway. Even people who have never read shark-fic before will know things have to go sideways pretty quickly with a plan like this.). Throw in a brewing Nor'Easter, a whole lot of blood-lust, and you've got a seriously fun The Perfect Storm by way of Jaws mashup.

Chris Jameson delivers a knock-out debut that kept me constantly wanting to know what's going to happen and who's next on the chopping block. Suitable to a shark horror story, there's plenty of chum in the water thanks to our large cast of characters, and the body-count is significant. The characters are all pretty well developed, each one given a strong moment to shine, if not several, and their interpersonal relationships are all believable and well drawn.

The main draw to Shark Island is, of course, the sharks, but Jameson keeps the human factor front and center, never letting you forget that these are normal people caught up in horrific circumstances. And while the narrative gets pretty bleak, with some moments that are downright hopeless, the story maintains an energetic buoyancy that kept me sailing through each page. The ending is a bit on the simple side, but makes up for it with an emotionally resonant send-off in the last few chapters.

This one is getting all five stars from me for being a wicked bit of fun. I was craving a solid bit of shark action and got exactly what I wanted out of this one. This was just pure joy for me!

[Note: I received an advanced copy of this title from the publisher via NetGalley.]

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Michael Patrick Hicks

Michael Patrick Hicks is the author of the science fiction novels Convergence, an Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award 2013 Quarter-Finalist, and Emergence. His work has appeared in several anthologies, and he has written for the websites Graphic Novel Reporter and Audiobook Reviewer. In between compulsively buying books and adding titles that he does not have time for to his Netflix queue, he is hard at work on his next story.

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