Author Steve Alten’s thrilling saga of ancient underwater beasts that began almost twenty years ago with MEG: A Novel of Deep Terror continues with this equally exciting fifth installment into the series. Released on June 14 from Tor Books, MEG: Nightstalkers picks up the story where the previous book, MEG: Hell’s Aquarium, left off, and offers readers another astounding adventure that makes for perfect summer reading. However, you’ll probably want to stick to pools instead of the ocean after reading this book!
In a tale that spans practically the entire globe, Nightstalkers follows the members of the Taylor clan as they each hunt for different monsters that have escaped into the oceans. Jonas Taylor and his friend Mac are after the two ferocious Megalodon sisters, Bela and Lizzy, who are no longer captive inside the Tanaka Institute and have headed north to the waters of British Columbia. At the same time, Jonas’s son David is out for revenge against the 122-foot crocodilian creature, Liopleurodon, that emerged from the Panthalassa Sea and killed his girlfriend. The two storylines eventually converge to bring about one of the most amazing conclusions to a MEG book yet.
It has been wonderful to witness just how much the world of MEG has grown with each new entry. Steve Alten knows how to continually raise the stakes for our favorite characters by putting them in these unbelievably terrifying situations, so much so that I was always afraid that one of them might not make it out alive this time. Jonas, David, Mac, and Terry are all back in Nightstalkers and are still the same characters that fans have come to know and love. But they also all have their own personal issues to deal with in addition to the responsibility they feel to protect the ocean from these monsters. Jonas and Terry’s marriage is on the rocks because of the stress of Terry’s illness and the way that Jonas keeps putting himself in dangerous situations. Mac is torn between his loyalty to Jonas and his new role as a father. David is suicidal and suffering horrible nightmares after his encounters with the Liopleurodon. All of this gives the story an extra layer of tension because of the decisions and choices that the characters are faced with.
Of course, there are plenty of scenes of shark and Liopleurodon attacks to keep the horror lovers happy and hungry for more. I loved the little side stories involving those unfortunate victims who were in the wrong place at the wrong time and happened upon one of the monsters. The deaths are visceral, just like you’d expect from one of Alten’s novels. Another element that adds to the excitement is the introduction of a new monster to the MEG canon, the Livyatan melvellei, an ancestor of the sperm whale. This comes about by way of a crossover appearance by a character from another Alten book–Zachary Wallace from The Loch. What makes Nightstalkers such a joy to read is that sense of awe every time one of the three beasts makes an appearance. It was hard enough to comprehend the existence of a seventy-foot shark, but now there are these other creatures that are more than double that size and even more ferocious. By bringing these creatures to modern day, Alten captures the imagination of any reader at any age, and reminds them that the oceans are still the most dangerous, and the most fascinating, place on the planet.
What I really love about Alten’s writing style is that it is both informative and accessible. Whenever he takes readers to a new location or environment, or brings a new creature into the mix, the descriptions are always incredibly detailed. There are even maps and diagrams included with the descriptions so that the reader can get a picture of this locale in his or her head without feeling overwhelmed. Alten’s books are all extensively researched, but never feel bogged down by the science, though you will learn something new on practically every page. This world is the writer’s passion, and you can feel it in the way the book is structured and the way he writes about his characters. He really achieved an amazing scope in Nightstalkers with all the different places that the story goes–from a small cluster of islands in British Columbia, to the waters around Australia and New Zealand, to a subglacial lake in Antarctica. The threads of each of these stories are expertly spun together as the book nears its conclusion, until we finally end up in familiar territory where all hell breaks loose.
Alten proves, yet again with Nightstalkers, that he is one of the best and knows how to take readers on a thrilling adventure ride to places they never thought were possible. As a MEGhead myself for almost twenty years now, I would say that this is definitely an exciting time to be a MEG fan. The film adaptation that we have all been waiting for is in production and will be brought to the big screen in 2018. Nightstalkers is one of the best entries in the book series yet, but Alten still isn’t done exploring this world he has created. As the last page in the novel promises, the saga will continue with another book, MEG: Generations. Stay tuned for our review of that closer to the tome’s release! In the meantime, you can visit Alten’s website for more information.