20 September 2010
Book Review: The Wave
Author: Susan Casey
Release Date: 14 September 2010
Date Finished: 19 September 2010
Buy | Borrow | Accept | Avoid
Challenges: 100+ Reading Challenge, Reading Resolutions, Hogwarts Reading Challenge, Non-Fiction Five,
The Short and Sweet of It
Susan Casey introduces readers to the men and women who pursue the more extreme of oceanic waves: tow surfers and scientists in search of giant waves.
A Bit of a Ramble
In the beginning, there was excitement. I tore through the first handful of chapters, verbally exclaiming over the more dare-devil actions of the surfers and the majesty of the waves. I found the writing well-paced, informative, and entertaining - not quite Mary Roach, but with definite Roachish moments. But then something happened. Well actually nothing happened. Nothing new anyway. Each chapter felt like a repeat of the one before with only a tiny bit of newness to distinguish itself from the rest of the book. The same people are visited over and over - particularly Laird Hamilton, admittedly a fascinating person - and the same things are said over and over - scientists can't get a grip on measurement and prediction, the ocean is getting more volatile. By the end, I was doing something I very very rarely do - I was skimming, glossing over entire paragraphs to find something new to read about.
Back to Roach. I can't help but compare Casey to Roach. Both write nonfiction accounts of unique subjects. Both focus their writing on interviews, facts, and a bit of snark. Their divergence is in tone and organization. While Roach clearly delineates each chapter into a different, specific subject, Casey's chapters are overly reminiscent of the ones which came before. Like Roach, Casey interjects humorous, personal interpretations and feelings, but she does so less often than Roach and in a more subdued fashion. Roach is no-holds-barred snark; Casey is modestly funny.
One specific point in the book really bugged me, perhaps without much warrant. Casey is discussing Maya Gabeira one of the world's only female tow surfers. While being interviewed, Gabeira is flirted with, questions focusing on whether or not she is single and how hot she is instead of on the waves. When she receives her award, Gabeira is congratulated by the emcee who then, in a horrifying bout of sexism, asks her to grab him a beer. Casey of course makes it clear that she disagrees with this sexism, but I spent the next few pages thinking about nothing but this: Why didn't Casey spend more than three pages with Gabeira? At that point, Casey seemed as sexist as the men.
Overall, I'm happy I read the book. It was extremely informative and exciting for the first 200 pages. Unfortunately, for the last 100+ pages, I just wanted it to be over.
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