From the dark depths of the ocean floor come flying sea monsters who eat sharks for breakfast.
In this debut thriller, Freedman suggests that while evolution may have halted in humans, it continues among sea creatures. Thousands of them swim up from the ocean floor to escape a killer virus, and as they move to the light, they gradually acquire new and deadly characteristics. By the time they’re off the California coast, they’re 12 feet long, have a 14-foot wingspan and weigh 4,000 pounds. Adaptation has also led to their being able to breathe above and fly from the water—and they’re hungry. In a series of action scenes that will have Hollywood animation artists salivating, the monsters stalk and devour dolphins, sharks and humans, though one predator exhibits the good grace to spare an infant. Unfortunately, Freedman’s writing, especially his descriptions, never measures up to his nightmarish idea. Hobbling the work is a predictable plot about a group of marine scientists (thin characters all, usually established by what they wear) determined to find out what’s coming up from the ocean. They’re driven by an entrepreneur who, like those who sought the mighty Kong, desperately wants to capture and exhibit the monsters to the public. Their pursuit takes them up the coast, eventually coming to center on a redwood forest where the creatures swoop down on them. In the midst of it all, romance, of course, blooms between leader Jason Aldridge (“male ambition in a wet suit”) and ocean nutrition specialist Lisa Barton. Lisa teaches her man he’s just got to open up and trust other people. They head to the altar, the monsters mostly dispatched, though enough remaining to evolve into a sequel.
The premise has bite, but the primer-style prose lacks teeth.