Monday, June 25, 2007

Extinct by Charles Wilson (1997)

Paperback cover blurb

Six-year-old Paul Haines watches as two older boys dive into a coastal river…and don’t come up. His mother, Carolyn, a charter boat captain on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, finds herself embroiled in the tragedy to an extent she could never have imagined.


Carolyn joins with marine biologist Alan Freeman in the hunt for a creature that is terrorizing the waters along the Gulf Coast. But neither of them could have envisioned exactly what kind of danger they are facing.


Yet one man, Admiral Vandiver, does know what this creature is, and how it has come into the shallows. And his secret obsession with it will force him, as well as Paul, Carolyn and Alan, into a race against time…and a race toward death.

My thoughts

The disappearance of two boys swimming in the Mississippi River (or one of its branches) eventually leads biologist Alan Freeman to the discovery that the giant shark, Carcharodon megalodon, is still alive and has taken up residence along the Gulf Coast. He teams up with a single mom and an admiral obsessed with the shark to stop it.

Extinct desperately wants to be Jaws, and while it’s not a total loss, it fails to capture both the film’s terror and its likeable characters. The book is rather slow-moving – as a mystery it gives away too much at the beginning to be compelling, and as a horror novel it has too few moments of real suspense. But at least the author, Charles Wilson, makes an attempt to give readers a sense of what it would be like for people living at the lower end of the food chain. As far as giant shark novels go, it's better than Meg.

  • The first three chapters can be read here.
  • The cover tells readers "Extinct" is "coming to NBC-TV." Trust me, it never came.
  • None


Anonymous said...

I emailed Wilson a few years back and asked about the mini series coming to NBC. It seems that NBC bought the rights, then later decided that it would be too difficult to make into a miniseries for technical (and therefore expense) reasons. Wilso actually came out good on this deal since he had a signed contract got paid by NBC anyway.

Anonymous said...

I just discovered your blog when I typed extinct into google. You mentioned looking for other reviews of the books you review and wanted to share this:

I actually got interested from reading this other guy's stuff about the book, but I'm not sure whether to read it or not. Ah well, back to google.

Anonymous said...

Actually enjoyed this book, but it is no where as good as Steve Alton's "Meg" books.

brendan said...

I just read "Extinct", it was pretty cheap, though may improve with age. The highlight for me was definitely the (telegraphed) surprise endings, though it's crude I suggest that giant shark fans should speed-read the last 10 pages or so while their girlfriends are clothes-shopping at the Goodwill, as about one in twelve Goodwills currently have a copy of this slight (300 pages) yarn on their shelves. It was about equal to Meg (more Jaws less Tom Clancy) but not as interesting as a cheap paperback I read years ago, a little internet research yields no answers, maybe you can help- the cover featured a really giant and gross wrinkly mummy/zombie megalodon. I don't remember the plot much but the hero was called Willie Maines! I adopted that as my stage name for a few years. It must have been published immediately in Jaw's wake, '77 or '78. Similar image as the poster for the 70's hark movie "Up From The Depths". I will wait patiently for a response.