A minor seismic disturbance in a remote section of the Pacific causes barely a ripple of concern for Kai Tanaka, acting director of the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Honolulu. But when an airliner en route from L.A. to Sydney vanishes in the same location, Kai is the first to realize that a mysterious explosion has unleashed a series of massive waves destined to obliterate Hawaii. In just one hour, Kai will lose all he has ever known--including his wife and daughter-- unless he can save them from nature's most destructive force.
NOTE: This book has also been published under the titles The Palymra Impact and The Tsunami Countdown.
Summer's here and (in the States, at least) that means it's inching towards disaster movie season! We typically see the theaters release disaster movies on or around Fourth Of July weekend. So, in that spirit, I picked up Rogue Wave by Boyd Morrison (though the plot of this one is actually written around Memorial Day holiday).
I saw this in a secondhand shop and decided to try it mainly due to a blurb I saw that likened Morrison's writing to Michael Crichton, one of my all-time favorite writers. I could see some similarities in the styles, but not quite as gripping as Crichton's action stories.
I will say the novel opens well! The opening chapter describes an airliner traveling above a storm when the pilots see what they think is lightning, only the flash is strangely followed by a mushroom cloud. The plane immediately falls into a crash landing and chapter two leads into us meeting the "hero" of sorts of the story, Kai Tanaka. He's a scientist working on the Hawaiian Islands who first spots signs of a tsunami on its way.
My issues with the story were 1) how it got a little dry here and there, not too bad... but there were some parts that dragged (at least to me) and 2) while entertaining, it read like a play by play of every disaster book or movie I've known. There's the typical natural disaster plot -- reports of seismic activity that the scientists don't really take too seriously at first, just saying it looks weird, but not that bad. Meanwhile, there's the expected scenes of people innocently playing on the beach, no clue of the imminent disaster. Scenes of people on holiday around the various islands, the first signs of the tsunami's presence finding its way to them. The novel begins at 8:41am with the plane crash, by 9:30am that same day, there are two more separate instances of deaths by tsunami. And the day's just getting started...
News of the earliest casualties take time reaching the scientists, so the scientists go on thinking "meh, we'll just keep a casual eye on it." Tanaka is your typical "just a regular guy doing my job". He, of course, gets separated from his family and is put in the position of feeling like he has to choose the safety of many or the safety of his personal loved ones.
It felt like a good part of the novel was build-up, a lot of looking at seismic reports, calls back and forth, science lingo heavy monologues with a few chapters here and there of what's actually going on with the "rogue wave". The plot does pick up steam some about halfway through and then gets really intense around the 225pg mark (though the entire story is under 400pgs). I found the part with Jake near the end pretty sad :-( There were some other parts, the science aspect that is, that had me thinking on the wild scope of it all, but I won't get into that too much because I'd have to give away a pretty big plot point to do it.
Perhaps it's in bad taste on my part but I actually did get a laugh at how people kept misinterpreting what the tsunami warnings on the radio were saying ... one guy thinks he hears "salami warning", thinking they served bad meat at lunch somewhere LOL while another person thinks they hear "Konami", explaining to their friend that it's just a videogame console commercial. X-D. Sad, but kinda darkly funny.
I did have fun with the story, but it was just a one-read for me. I will say though, I think it has all good markings for a potentially pretty fun summer disaster movie!