Title: The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks, and Giants of the Ocean
Author: Susan Casey
Release Date: September 14, 2010
Genre: Non-Fiction, Science, Audio
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
The Wave is the story of ocean waves, but not just any ocean waves. Susan Casey chases the rogue waves, those that, up until a decade ago, scientists said were impossible. She looks at the physics of freak 100-foot waves and studies the tow surfers who try to surf them.
I thought The Wave sounded fascinating because I love it when authors combine science with interesting stories, and this seemed like the perfect instance of that. However, I was surprised to find very mixed reviews of it, so I decided this might be a good choice for audio. A good narrator can help a reader overlook a flawed story, so I figured that if I had the same problems as other readers, I’d notice them less in audio. I’m not sure whether it was the audio production or the book was just aimed at someone like me, but I really enjoyed this book from beginning to end.
There are really two different stories running through The Wave. The first is the science of big waves. Casey discusses how they form and what leading scientists think about them. She discusses the relationship between rogue waves and global warming, and how shipping companies and cruise liners deal with the prospect of freak waves. I found this part of the book completely engrossing. She delivers the information in an easily digestible way, never overwhelming the reader with facts or science.
The second story running through The Wave is that of the tow surfers who try to surf these waves. I really admired the way that Casey immersed herself in the culture; when there was a big wave to catch, she was out there with the surfers. She didn’t rely solely on interviews. She realized that being able to speak from personal experience was crucial to writing a engaging and accurate story. The surfers seem crazy for doing what they do, but at the same time Casey presents it in a way the reader can grasp. While this wasn’t necessarily my favorite thread of the book, Casey never lost my interest with it.
The audio production of The Wave is narrated by Kirsten Potter. She does a wonderful job with this material, engaging the reader and never letting the book turn into a recitation of facts. The production is unabridged and runs about 10 and a half hours.
I really enjoyed The Wave and am glad I chose to consume it in audio. While I would have found the science part of the book just as fascinating in print, the surfer storyline might have tried my patience a bit. However, in audio, I enjoyed the entire book and was able to appreciate what Casey accomplished. If you’re a fan of non-fiction, this is one you should look into.