Book Review: The Wave – Susan Casey

Title: The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks, and Giants of the Ocean
Author: Susan Casey
ISBN: 9780767928847
Pages: 352
Release Date: September 14, 2010
Publisher: Doubleday
Genre: Non-Fiction, Science, Audio
Source: Library
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Summary:

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.

Review:

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.

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Comments

  1. Not only was this book quite good, but the author had a great interview on The Daily Show a few weeks back. It was a pretty surface-level Q&A with Jon Stewart, but Casey did a great job explaining why this subject matter was so interesting.

  2. Not only was this book quite good, but the author had a great interview on The Daily Show a few weeks back. It was a pretty surface-level Q&A with Jon Stewart, but Casey did a great job explaining why this subject matter was so interesting.

  3. I am a big non-fiction fan, and I have been meaning to get this one each time I’m at the bookstore. Waves are so interesting from an aesthetic and scientific perspective 🙂 Great review!

  4. I am a big non-fiction fan, and I have been meaning to get this one each time I’m at the bookstore. Waves are so interesting from an aesthetic and scientific perspective 🙂 Great review!

  5. I’m finding I enjoy audio more when it’s nonfiction, so I’ll look for this one at the library. Thanks!

  6. I’m finding I enjoy audio more when it’s nonfiction, so I’ll look for this one at the library. Thanks!

  7. I keep passing this by in the bookstore but have never actually picked it up. It looks awesome.

  8. I keep passing this by in the bookstore but have never actually picked it up. It looks awesome.

  9. I was worried about getting bored with the surfer parts, but glad to know it worked for you in audio. I was planning to maybe try this in audio myself.

  10. I was worried about getting bored with the surfer parts, but glad to know it worked for you in audio. I was planning to maybe try this in audio myself.

  11. I actually liked the surfer bits a little more than the science bits, but I think that is because I am not a big fan of science reading. I am glad to hear that you liked the book and gave it such a great review. It definitely was a memorable read for me!!

  12. I actually liked the surfer bits a little more than the science bits, but I think that is because I am not a big fan of science reading. I am glad to hear that you liked the book and gave it such a great review. It definitely was a memorable read for me!!

  13. Nice review, I’ll be getting to this one!

  14. Nice review, I’ll be getting to this one!

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