I freely admit I’m a sucker for a great genetic manipulation novel — Dean Koontz’s Shadowfires and Watchers are modern favorites of mine, along with H.G. Wells’s timeless classic The Island of Dr. Moreau, among a handful of others — and Steve Alten’s SHARKMAN has just been added to that short list of my favorites. I simply could not put this book down, and read it in two sittings — losing sleep in the process, and not minding a bit. I categorize SHARKMAN as a speculative fiction-slash-science fiction thriller, and it’s perfectly suitable for both a young adult and adult audience. There were hints of similarities to Deep Blue Sea — a fun, kick-ass shark movie which I thoroughly enjoyed — but SHARKMAN was plenty fresh and unique for me. I was captivated from start to finish.
The protagonist and first person narrator 17-year-old Kwan Wilson’s tragic auto accident — which turns him into a wheelchair-bound paraplegic, and kills his mother in the process — gives Kwan a maturity beyond his years, and a unique and bitter perspective on the world’s perception of disabled people that he struggles and learns to overcome... in a distinctly new way that’s quickly revealed through the unfolding events early in his story. A cast of compassionate, sympathetic, and likable characters helps him come to dubious terms with his handicap, instantly propelling me into his story and hooking me through to the climactic conclusion. The antagonists were devious and it was difficult for me to determine their allegiances, which is an aspect I loved. I’m not providing spoilers here: these events are shown from the opening, and I don’t want to ruin the fun surprises Mr. Alten has in store for both his veteran fans and new readers.
Although the story offers a conspiracy theory element that some self-proclaimed “patriots” may find objectionable — I won’t give that away, because it’s an integral part of the story that’s gradually and cleverly revealed the more we learn about Kwan’s family history — I will remind prospective readers that this is a work of fiction, and we fiction writers have carte blanche to take an artist’s liberties with our works. I thoroughly enjoyed SHARKMAN, and highly recommend it to all lovers of fantastic fiction.
I give SHARKMAN a solid 4.5 stars out of 5 — a 9 on a scale of 1 to 10 — and eagerly anticipate Mr. Alten’s next novel. For me, he can’t finish writing and publishing it fast enough.
I hope this review was helpful to you in making your decision to purchase and read SHARKMAN, and happy reading to you all!