Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Review: The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks, and Giants of the Ocean

I read this back at the beginning of March, but forgot to post the review of it for Lazy Girl Read's mini-challenge.

book 4/4 - something new (brand new from Borders!)

Title:  The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks, and Giants of the Ocean by Susan Casey

Summary:  For centuries, mariners have spun tales of gargantuan waves, 100-feet high or taller. Until recently scientists dis­missed these stories—waves that high would seem to violate the laws of physics. But in the past few decades, as a startling number of ships vanished and new evidence has emerged, oceanographers realized something scary was brewing in the planet’s waters. They found their proof in February 2000, when a British research vessel was trapped in a vortex of impossibly mammoth waves in the North Sea—including several that approached 100 feet.

As scientists scramble to understand this phenomenon, others view the giant waves as the ultimate challenge. These are extreme surfers who fly around the world trying to ride the ocean’s most destructive monsters. The pioneer of extreme surfing is the legendary Laird Hamilton, who, with a group of friends in Hawaii, figured out how to board suicidally large waves of 70 and 80 feet. Casey follows this unique tribe of peo­ple as they seek to conquer the holy grail of their sport, a 100­foot wave.

In this mesmerizing account, the exploits of Hamilton and his fellow surfers are juxtaposed against scientists’ urgent efforts to understand the destructive powers of waves—from the tsunami that wiped out 250,000 people in the Pacific in 2004 to the 1,740-foot-wave that recently leveled part of the Alaskan coast.

My Review:  It feels slightly odd talking about this book after everything that happened yesterday in Japan, but I think it only makes it that much more of a read that people should seek out. I loved the narrative Susan Casey set up. She switches from her experiences with the big-waves surfers (who I admire and yet think are insane) and their relationships with the water between various science-related situations. The book was so gripping and fascinating. I thought I would like it, but I didn't expect to love it and have trouble putting it down. I think the decision to intermingle the stories of Laird Hamilton and the other surfers chasing the waves intermingled throughout the book kept it from feeling like i was bombarded with all science and catastrophe.

I had always respected the ocean, but I think this book makes me appreciate it all the more.

Overall:  5 stars

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