Unknown monsters from the deep

9780786032877_p0_v1_s260x420Recently, author Ryan Lockwood sent me a copy of his new book BelowThis fictional piece follows the story of professional diver Will Sturman and marine biologist Valerie Martell as they battle unknown monsters from the deep.

You had me at unknown monsters from the deep.

What to say about this book?  I loved Jaws but it always seemed to be missing a key ingredient–Cephalopods.  Lockwood’s book gave me exactly what I needed.  “I have a fever and the only cure is more cephalopod.” Scratch the sharks Jaws and add in big ass squids.  To borrow and modify the glorious words of Samuel Jackson in his consummate role of Snakes on Plane…well you get the point. I like squid and there is a squadron of squid in Below, literally thousands of antagonists. Moreover, Below contains fantastic scenes written entirely from the squids point of view.

Where Lockwood really excels though is totally nailing the science.  By the way, this is the highest compliment a scientist can give.  Several sections on all the science of squid are both accurate and seamlessly built into the suspenseful plot.  I reread the book to just looking for errors in the science. The small insignificant errors I found reflect more me being a tough audience and Lockwood taking necessary artistic license.

The plot is on the edge of your seat suspense that pulls you all the way threw to the dramatic end.  The book took me literally two and half-hour flight to finish. The climax is a visceral and unnerving ride that includes both of the sufficiently flawed to be likeable protagonists.

As the holidays are coming, you will need something that allows you to ignore all that agonizing family time.  Ryan Lockwood’s Below is just the cure.

Overall, I give Below 9/10 pirate squids.


Dr. M (1729 Posts)

Craig McClain is the Assistant Director of Science for the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, a National Science Foundation supported initiative. He has conducted deep-sea research for 20 years and published over 50 papers in the area. He has participated in and led dozens of oceanographic expeditions taken him to the Antarctic and the most remote regions of the Pacific and Atlantic. Craig’s research focuses on how energy drives the biology of marine invertebrates from individuals to ecosystems, specifically, seeking to uncover how organisms are adapted to different levels of carbon availability, i.e. food, and how this determines the kinds and number of species in different parts of the oceans. Craig’s research has been featured on National Public Radio, Discovery Channel, Fox News, National Geographic and ABC News. In addition to his scientific research, Craig also advocates the need for scientists to connect with the public and is the founder and chief editor of the acclaimed Deep-Sea News (http://deepseanews.com/), a popular ocean-themed blog that has won numerous awards. His writing has been featured in Cosmos, Science Illustrated, American Scientist, Wired, Mental Floss, and the Open Lab: The Best Science Writing on the Web. His forthcoming book, Science of the South (http://www.scienceofthesouth.com/), connects cultural icons of South such as pecan pie with the science behind them.

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2 comments on “Unknown monsters from the deep
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  2. Dr. M-

    Thanks for the killer book review. The compliment on the accuracy of the science – coming from a scientist – means a lot to me. Happy holidays.

    -Ryan Lockwood, Author of BELOW

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