by Susan Casey

Reviewer Rating:


As far as nature goes, it's safe to say that the ocean acts as a kind of ambassador to the unknown, and Susan Casey’s The Wave, unfettered, dives right in.

Water, as it is in nature, has an undeniably humbling way of reminding us that we’re not in control. The more we try to understand and predict its disposition, the more we’re left with questions rather than answers.  As with all things we don’t understand, the human response to the unknown is consistent and insipid – influence, manipulate and repress…repercussions be damned.  As Casey demonstrates, this response is practically palpable in our relationship with the ocean.

What makes The Wave a fun piece of nonfiction is that the narrative reads like a wave; it ebbs, flows and oscillates between the science and the sport of monster waves.

The 100 foot+ wave has always been thought to be a myth, for those who witnessed such monsters rarely lived to tell the tale. Even today there are no succinct scientific equations that can explain how a wave can suddenly rise to such heights, seemingly out of nowhere. Sure, there are known events and features that cause big waves: earthquakes, landslides, breaking icebergs, sandbars, and coral reefs can shape towering walls of water that curl in on themselves as they break. But what about the waves that take down oil platforms in the middle of the ocean, the waves that can single handedly sink massive tankers so quickly that there's no time for an SOS? Bringing wave experts and admirers together, Casey has crafted an exciting account about a very real natural phenomenon – the otherworldly rouge wave.  

There’s adventure here, and intrigue. I’d recommend it to anyone fond of nature writing, and perhaps looking for a thrill.

And remember: Never turn your back on the ocean. 

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