You have to hand it to Michael Cole, writer of Scar: A Deep Sea Thriller. He knows exactly what his readers want – why waste time with anything as trivial as the science behind exactly how the eponymous hybrid of Megalodon and Great White is created? Why his eyes glow red or how exactly a scar can be a genetic trait? Nah, give readers the premise and let the carnage do the talking.
In Scar, the fearsome, genetically modified creature gets loose almost immediately. The nefarious corporation behind its creation tries to recapture it as quickly and quietly as possible, but the creature itself has other ideas – leaving a trail of death and destruction in its wake that foils the company’s plan to keep its existence under wraps. Desperate to ensure that the creature’s true nature isn’t discovered, the company resorts to ever more extreme measures to distract the media and authorities, leaving it up to a small team of plucky, mismatched experts and law enforcement officials to stop the relentless hybrid’s rampage.
Cole’s writing is fairly efficient and the plot, as daft as it gets – and it really does get pretty silly – moves at such a pace that the lapses in logic and Megalodon-sized holes pass by without much of a chance for them to be scrutinised. However, it’s hard not to notice the fairly relentless sexism and the right-wing views of characters, which occur far too often and are too bluntly stated to be taken satirically or as mere character traits. The views of the writer seem to seep unguarded into the text, with digs at cancel culture, abortion, gun control and a prevalent when-men-were-men attitude amongst the majority of the characters, as well as the book’s narrative voice. It’s very clunky and obvious; there’s a weirdly puritanical, slasher movie-style morality to the rapidly unfolding violence and the casual misogyny and conservative viewpoint just ended up making me feel uneasy.
The gore starts entertainingly enough, with the carnage gleefully described in great detail – but even this becomes wearying, with the relentless blood and guts just going on and on. There’s a real issue with scenes becoming repetitive and with no sense of pacing; the story’s few quiet scenes and trope-heavy characters don’t pick up the slack either.
What starts off as a fun, daft creature feature is undone by a feeling of repetition, the heavy handed politics and general lack of any kind of subtlety, as well as a seriously derivative premise; Scar may well be what the doctor ordered – or rather, created – for some readers, but it left me bored far before the story reached its gory finale.
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