Monday, 2 October 2017

Book Review: Shark Island by Chris Jameson


A shark attack survivor believes she has already lived through her worst nightmare. She's dead wrong. . .

Naomi Cardiff is not one to give up without a fight and now, after learning about a series of shark attacks in Cape Cod, she's joined a team of scientists to put a stop to the terror. The plan: to lure the sharks to a remote island far from the populated coastline. Meanwhile, a fierce Nor Easter is underway. . .

In the midst of the storm, an alarming number of Great Whites have come to slaughter the seals in a vicious feeding frenzy. When sharks ram and breach the hull, Naomi and her team must jump ship and swim desperately through a sea of circling fins and gaping jaws to the tiny island. But as the swells from the storm begin to swallow their rocky refuge, how will they manage to make it out alive?


My Review: 
Naomi is on a boat trip with girlfriend Kayla and decides to go swimming to photograph seals. She is attacked by a shark and is lucky to survive but at the expense of her leg and her relationship. Recovery is difficult but Naomi is inspired by a new scientific venture to entice the seals away from the populated beach to a small series of islands in the hope that local shark attacks will stop. With her mother's influential contacts, Naomi gets a role on board the research vessel as official photographer.

The vessel leaves port with a storm looming on the horizon. Their beacon signal seems to be working and lures the seals into following the boat. The team are excited to see that sharks are starting to follow the seals but in bigger numbers than expected. As the storm hits they become aware of two important things. Firstly, they are being followed by a group of animal rights people who object to what they are doing and will do anything it takes to stop them, even if it means sinking the research vessel. Secondly, there is something about the signal that is making the sharks more aggresive and they start to attack the boats. Suddenly both boats are sinking, everyone is in the water and the tiny nearby islands are their only hope.

The characters in the book are varied and interesting. At the Institute Kat and Tye have recently split up but are determined to work together professionally to see the project through. Kat is no longer interested in Tye and suspects that he might still like her in spite of his closeness to Rosalie.  To complicate matters, Rosalie wants to be with Tye as well as being his future research assistant and is annoyed that there is still an emotional connection with Kat. It sounds like dreadful love triangle territory but it doesn't play out like that. It is more about Rosalie getting the wrong idea about Kat and Tye. The most interesting character was Eddie who I could relate to. He is anti-social and has a tendency to speak without thinking, which makes it hard for him to have friends. I like the way that he and Naomi both feel like outsiders and bond.

There are also other people about to get drawn into the disaster. A distress call during the storm comes from a family trapped on a camping trip on one of the islands who are watching the disaster unfold. Two fishermen are en route to the scene to try to intervene and stop the sharks and seals being attracted to their fishing grounds, and decide to see if they can rescue the survivors. The sharks, however, have other ideas. Now a lot of people are trapped and in danger with a rising tide threatening the islands that they are trying to shelter on. Who is going to survive?

I really enjoyed this book. I am fascinated by shark books and films and was so looking forward to this. I wasn't disappointed! The menace of the sharks is there throughout the story, starting with the attack on Naomi and continuing through as the disaster unfolds. There is plenty of tension as the sharks launch their attacks on the boat and even when the survivors make it to land, they are constantly under threat from the rising tide which gradually brings the angry sharks even closer. There are also some good shark deaths and shark attacks which you would expect in this kind of book. It is not an all out gorefest but there is enough shark action to keep most shark fans happy.

There is a small focus on Naomi's relationship with Kayla at the start of the book with Naomi fearing that she is about to lose the woman she loves. Throughout the book, Naomi does think about the failed relationship and debates what to do about it but it is a background theme and doesn't overshadow the main shark story. It is natural that in a life threatening situation, you are going to be thinking about things like that so it felt natural in the story and not something just shoved in for the sake of diversity. I also liked the way that she had to deal with her new leg...the lack of balance she had on the boat, how sore she was getting as it was all new to her. I thought these were good and reasonable additions to the story, along with Eddie's issues with social interaction. Walter and his boyfriend (who we never meet) were also nicely written and I enjoyed his friendship with Jamie.

The characters overall felt like real people, reacting to events in the ways you would expect. I liked all of them except Tye and Rosalie, for reasons that will be obvious as the book progresses. I liked seeing diverse characters written as real people instead of just poor steriotypes, especially Walter. I liked the mix of action and tension and the amount of shark attacks. I also liked the way the story was put together and I could see this making a good film with the right cast. I'd like to read more by the author if he writes more in this genre and I recommend it to shark fans.


Read August 2017.
4 stars.

10 comments:

  1. I really like sharks stories but they like Zs to me! :) I like them a lot in movies but not so much in books. Sounds like this would be a great movie because I especially like the scenes where people are trying to make it to land! Glad it wasn't a disappointment! :)

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    1. I was worried as I loved the sound of this and I hate being disappointed! Thankfully it was really good. I do hope they make it into a film but don't hollywood it up!

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  2. We watched 47 Meters Down Friday - decent shark movie so maybe you might want to check it out. So glad you liked this one.

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    1. I'm unsure about this film as it is Open Water 3 and I hated the other two!

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  3. I saw this book at the library over the weekend and almost checked it out, but then my bag was already full so I didn't. Now I kinda wish I had. Maybe next library day. :)

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    1. I was pleased to enjoy it! I was worried about being too hyped up for it!

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  4. Love that cover. Sounds like a good balance of shark attacks and characterization, with sharks front and center like they should be :)

    "Swim for your life" love that tagline!!!

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    1. Yeah it was a good mixture, well worth a read. I liked it way better than Meg!

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  5. I'm glad you enjoyed this! I thought it was surprisingly well written for a "shark book", and the characters surprisingly well developed even though most of them were intended as shark food :)

    ~Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

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    1. It was certainly as good as I hoped it would be!

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