BookBrowse Reviews The Wave by Susan Casey

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The Wave

In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks and Giants of the Ocean

by Susan Casey

The Wave by Susan Casey
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  • First Published:
    Sep 2010, 352 pages
    Paperback:
    May 2011, 432 pages

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Science and surfing mix in this nonfiction exploration of giant waves


15 out of 17 BookBrowse readers rated The Wave 4 or 5 stars (out of 5). Here's what they had to say:
Susan Casey has created the perfect nonfiction book, filled with details of the myths of rogue waves, the recent scientific proof of their measurement, Billabong's crazed reward of $500,000 to the first surfer who can prove by videotape that he or she has ridden a wave bigger than 100 feet and the intimate portrayal of the people who have attempted to win the prize.

If there was room here, I'd quote great lines and descriptions from the book. She can place you right there with Laird Hamilton and many icons of the surf world. You're out on the jet ski feeling and seeing what the surfers are attempting, privileged to their thoughts as they tackle these giant, majestic, monsters of nature. Through the author's eyes, I felt that I had traveled the world to the well-known and unknown spots where these waves routinely show up. Ms. Casey interviews all the people involved in the scientific and sport world who live for these occurrences with a natural intriguing curiosity that left me astonished (Karen M).

The Wave satisfies fans of both science and surfboards:
Casey travels with a select group of extreme surfers as they track down the seven most formidable waves, all of which have "a distinct character." Interspersed between the wave chases are fascinating profiles of the scientists seeking to understand what causes the ocean's unpredictable behavior (Vicky O). I found the science more interesting than the surfers, but there's plenty about both, for wherever one's interests lie (Julie Z). The author did a solid job covering a large number of avenues: shipwrecks, wave symposiums, weather experts, insurance specialists, etc. as well as top surfers (Colleen L). The result is an intriguing and satisfying look at a mysterious and engaging subject. It was a great ride and a great read (Sande O).

But a couple readers found it not quite as engaging as they'd hoped:
Certainly there's lots to learn but, frankly, I had to push through the scientific jargon to get back to the people and their stories. Even then, I never got to know them well and didn't get to actually feel their experiences. This is no Into Thin Air, as touted on the back cover. I'm giving it 3 stars, because it will rate either 5 or 1 with you, depending on your interest in oceanography (Mary G).

Not as engaging as The Perfect Storm, but there is plenty to fear and be depressed about with the dire climate change predictions and huge waves growing larger, especially if you live near a coastline anywhere (Bea C).

The bottom line:
If you are at all interested in rogue, freak, giant waves, the scientists who study them and the adrenaline junkies who crave to conquer them - grab your wetsuit for this is one heck of a ride (Karen J)!

This review was originally published in October 2010, and has been updated for the May 2011 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.



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