Oh dear it seems that the high that I got from reading Philip Roth’s ‘The Plot Against America’ Still hasn’t left me and I’ve read a book which has left me a tad unsatisfied.
To be honest a ton of mixed feelings ran through me when I read The Swarm, at times I felt the scientific detail bogged down the story a bit (although I did not mind it) sometimes even Schatzing’s way of injecting sentimentality ruined some things. I mean would you be thinking of a 56 year old scientist that you work with right in the middle of a tsunami? and then at the same time there is a blockbuster element to it all, which means that the author definitely had a film in mind. It is a hefty 900 page novel which could have been whittled to a 400 one easy.
Man has been destroying the environment for ages so the Yrr, a group of single cell organisms have come to teach humanity a lesson and invade the minds of whales, crabs and lobsters in order to destroy and spread disease to the Earth. Also they send out a mass of worms to destroy the methane levels in the sea and create changes in the ocean shelf. After much consternation a group of scientists gather together on a ship and try find a way of stopping the Yrr. The gathering was put together under the military section of the U.S. government. Headed by psycopath Commander Judith Li who stops at nothing in order to make the U.S. a super power decides to destroy the Yrr usuing biological warfare.
Needless to say that nearly every one dies.
The disaster scenes are gripping, if somewhat cliched. If you are a fan of Michael Crichton then you’ve read it all before. However this did not stop me from squirming in my seat a few times, especially the section where the ship is destroyed and they are somewhat ruined by the fact that sentimentality is inserted in the most exciting of scenes. I want to read about the whale attacking the boat not a couple having romantic feelings about each other while their friends are being chewed up by an orca!
There is one section of the book where schatzing shines though and I found this the most pleasant part of the novel. Whale expert Leon Anawak goes back to his inuit roots and learns about his race and mission in life. It is sentimental and touching but in an isolated way so it becomes more credible.
As a novel The Swarm is good and does it’s job, but it is not great and weirdly flawed due to the fact that it doesn’t follow one path. Sure the government satire is interesting and adds depth (no pun intended) but was there need for the mushy bits?
During my research about the book I found out that a film adaptation is in the works. Despite the fact that I criticised the book the scientific bits are valid and I think that the film will just focus on the disasters (probably 100% computer generated) and the government plot in a superficial manner. But time will tell.