Summary and book reviews of The Devil's Teeth by Susan Casey

The Devil's Teeth

A True Story of Survival and Obsession Among America's Great White Sharks

By Susan Casey

The Devil's Teeth
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • Hardcover: Jun 2005,
    304 pages.
    Paperback: May 2006,
    304 pages.

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

A journalist's obsession brings her to a remote island off the California coast, home to the world's most mysterious and fearsome predators -- and the strange band of surfer-scientists who follow them.

Susan Casey was in her living room when she first saw the great white sharks of the Farallon Islands, their dark fins swirling around a small motorboat in a documentary. These sharks were the alphas among alphas, some longer than twenty feet, and there were too many to count; even more incredible, this congregation was taking place just twenty-seven miles off the coast of San Francisco.

In a matter of months, Casey was being hoisted out of the early-winter swells on a crane, up a cliff face to the barren surface of Southeast Farallon Island -- dubbed by sailors in the 1850s the "devil's teeth." There she joined Scot Anderson and Peter Pyle, the two biologists who bunk down during shark season each fall in the island's one habitable building, a haunted, 135-year-old house spackled with lichen and gull guano. Two days later, she got her first glimpse of the famous, terrifying jaws up close and she was instantly hooked; her fascination soon yielded to obsession -- and an invitation to return for a full season. But as Casey readied herself for the eight-week stint, she had no way of preparing for what she would find among the dangerous, forgotten islands that have banished every campaign for civilization in the past two hundred years.

The Devil's Teeth is a vivid dispatch from an otherworldly outpost, a story of crossing the boundary between society and an untamed place where humans are neither wanted nor needed.

Peter's weather prediction held. As the light came up and I stepped outside I saw that the fog had dissolved, the ocean was unveiled, and the jagged contours of another Farallon, Saddle Rock, were crisply in focus for the first time since my arrival. Saddle Rock reared out of the water only two hundred yards southeast of the main island, and from certain angles it looked exactly like a dorsal fin. Cormorants bunched along its edges, forming an elegant black picket fence. It marked the divide between Mirounga Bay (where the Rat Pack hunted) and Shubrick Point (where the Sisterhood reigned). Many an elephant seal head had been lost in its shadow.

Scot and Peter and I drank our coffee on the front steps, looking out at the water glimmering in the early light. There was a feathery wind and a handful of ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Reviews

BookBrowse

It's difficult to decide who is the most compelling contender for the role of "star" in Casey's book. Is it the sharks, the islands, or the surfer-scientists who choose to live their lives studying the sharks in this extraordinary place? Or perhaps it's the one remaining sea-urchin diver who still works the area, elbowing sharks out of the way as he goes about his business! All in all, a gripping read (pun intended!) and highly recommended!   (Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).

Full Review Members Only (396 words).

Media Reviews
Author Blurb Linda Greenlaw, author of The Hungry Ocean
I read Susan Casey's book in a feeding frenzy, satisfying my curiosity while fueling my fascination with sharks. A thoroughly researched and well-written piece of literature that raises hairs as well as tickling funny bones, The Devil's Teeth artfully reveals what lurks in the shadows of the mysterious great white and the people obsessed with them. The true triumph of the book, though, is in Casey's transcendence of mere journalism - she's clearly embraced by the world of which she writes.

Author Blurb Robert Kurson, author of Shadow Divers
In delivering us to the Farallon Islands, and then into the souls of the magnificent Great White Sharks that populate its waters, Susan Casey has really delivered us into the DNA of our own beings. The Devil's Teeth is more than a shark story; it is an account of our instincts, our appetites, even our futures, all beautifully told by a writer compelled to know.

Author Blurb Mary Roach, author of Stiff
Susan Casey could write about guppies, and I'd want to read her book. I devoured this book like a shark.

Publishers Weekly

From its startling opening description of scientists racing to the bloody scene where a shark has decapitated a seal, this memoir-cum-natural and cultural history of the Farallon Islands - "the spookiest, wildest place on Earth" - plunges readers into the thrills of shark watching.

Booklist - George Cohen

Casey, a development editor at Time Inc., joined the biologists for eight weeks to gather material for the book....The result is a detailed and absorbing account of these awesome creatures.

San Francisco Chronicle - Paul McHugh

[A] page-turner. . . Gives you a way of reaching these mysterious isles without getting wet. Or seasick.

Kirkus Reviews

Handles close encounters with visceral intensity, then handily details the scientific achievements of the project...She captures the spooky feel of the Farallones-its sheer cliffs, massive bird and seal populations, fogs and green flashes and Specters of the Brocken -- as well as its dramatic weather.

The New York Times Book Review - Louise Jarvis Flynn

Susan Casey's lively portrait of life among Northern California's white sharks and the dogged researchers who study them indulges in just the right mix of anxiety, gore and reassuring shark science. One can find reason to fear the waves and then muster the courage to enter them, usually within the same chapter...The sharks are the stars of Casey's story, but the Farallones steal the show.

Reader Reviews
T.C.

Good story...dumb author
When I started reading this book I was completely put off by the author's way of depicting her so-called knowledge on the matter of sharks. Myself, being quite knowledgeable on the matter of great whites, found it hilarious that an editor, not of any...   Read More

Todd

The Devils Teeth
This book was amazing. I've always been fascinated by Great Whites, but this book was more than that. I knew going in that it wouldn't be attack after attack and that was what was so great about it. It gave you an inside look of life on these ...   Read More

Jon

Devil's Teeth
I've read this book twice and both times I couldn't put it down. Ms.Casey's writing style is entertaining and I think the book does a great describing the islands and all the inhabitants. I didn't read it with the expectation of being scared by ...   Read More

Majormom

The Devil's Teeth
I ran right out to buy this after hearing it advertised repeatedly on NPR during the week of July 10, 2006. I was sorely disappointed -- not in the factual, first-person, superbly edited contents (I found NO misspellings and only the perfect and ...   Read More

Write your own review!

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book

Did you know?....

  • Great Whites have about 300 teeth at any given time, arranged in multiple rows. According to the National Parks Conservation Association they can shed up to 50,000 teeth in a lifetime (hence sharks teeth are the most widely found fossil).
  • Humans don't taste good to sharks - even the fattest of us aren't fat enough for a shark's taste buds. Seals are their meal of choice, preferably baby seals which are 50% fat. This is why most shark attacks are on surfers (whose boards resemble the shape of a seal when seen from below). So, if you must surf in water where sharks are known to congregate (which is pretty much anywhere one ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Readalikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked The Devil's Teeth, try these:

  • Bonobo Handshake jacket

    Bonobo Handshake

    by Vanessa Woods

    Published Feb 2013

    More about this book

    Read Reviews

    A young woman follows her fiancé to war-torn Congo to study extremely endangered bonobo apes - who teach her a new truth about love and belonging.

  • Grayson jacket

    Grayson

    by Lynne Cox

    Published Feb 2013

    More about this book

    Read Reviews

    The true story of long-distance swimmer Lynne Cox's ocean encounter with an 18-foot baby whale and her efforts to reunite "Grayson" with his mother - part mystery, part magical tale.

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member


Search Readalikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Shotgun Lovesongs
    Shotgun Lovesongs
    by Nickolas Butler
    Nickolas Butler's debut novel, Shotgun Lovesongs, follows five life-long friends, now in their mid-...
  • Book Jacket: Gemini
    Gemini
    by Carol Cassella
    How good is Gemini, Carol Cassella's book about a Seattle intensive care physician who becomes ...
  • Book Jacket: The Goldfinch
    The Goldfinch
    by Donna Tartt
    Winner of the 2014 Pulitzer for Fiction.

    Her canvas is vast. To frame a story about art, love and ...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your
horizons.

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry
by Gabrielle Zevin

Published Apr. 2014

Join the discussion!

  1.  170The Weight of Blood:
    Laura McHugh
  2.  254Cartwheel:
    Jennifer duBois

All Discussions

Who Said...

Censorship, like charity, should begin at home: but unlike charity, it should end there.

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

Solve this clue:

P Your O C

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.