Literature / Meg
"Two Words: Jurassic Shark!"
The Los Angeles Times

The flagship series of novels by Florida author Steve Alten - except the "flagship" is actually a really, really big Threatening Shark.

The series' continuity includes:

  • Meg: A Novel of Deep Terror (1997); a modest bestseller.
  • The Trench (1999)
  • Meg: Primal Waters (2004)
  • Meg: A Novel of Deep Terror (2005); a revised edition of the original novel.
  • The Loch (2005); initially unrelated to Meg until its direct sequel brought the two series together.
  • Meg: Hell's Aquarium (2009)
  • Meg: Origins (2011); an e-book.
  • Vostok: A Sequel to The Loch (2015); which will feature characters from both Meg and The Loch.
  • Meg: Special Anniversary Edition (2015); limited edition hardcover omnibus of a further revised version of the original novel and Meg: Origins.
  • Meg: Revised and Expanded Edition (2015); wide release paperback omnibus of a further revised version of the original novel and Meg: Origins.
  • Meg: Night Stalkers (2016)
  • Meg: Generations (announced for summer 2017)

"Meg" is short for "Megalodon", the name of an actual, over-sized, prehistoric relative of the Great White. (Although its size, strength, intelligent, and probably its ferocity are frequently exaggerated in the books; that, and it glows.) The books detail the adventures of Jonas Taylor (and later, his family), a former member of the Navy who came face to face with the shark while diving in the Mariana Trench, reacted about the way you might expect, and was drummed out of the Navy for allegedly going insane. Later, having become a marine biologist obsessed with proving he isn't crazy, Jonas ventures back into the trench, meets the shark again, and accidentally unleashes it. Terror, thrills, and more all ensue.

And we do mean ensue. These books delight in taking their narrative about humans going up against giant sharks everywhere and anywhere they can think of, no matter how crazy, unrealistic, or controversial it may be. Indiana Jones—caliber exploits by members of the human cast tend to be the result, with a Crowning Moment of Awesome or Crowning Moment of Funny, or both, often capping it all off at the finale.

The series is also becoming notable as one of Steve Alten's outlets for issuing a Take That against whomever he's mad at, and there seem to be a lot of them. The result may well qualify as Badass Decay for many readers, and although Steve Alten has improved as a writer tremendously since he wrote the first Meg book, the series has arguably declined in quality as Alten continues to supplement the series that everyone still associates with him.

And yet, the series at its peak is affable in its cheesiness to the point of being like an old B Movie—So Bad, It's Good, if you will, and there's just something about a man slaying a shark by letting himself be swallowed and then cutting up the shark's organs using one of its lost teeth or a shark attacking a baseball game, of all things that has the ability to put a smile on readers' faces, even as they shake their heads.

A film adaptation has been in some truly memorable Development Hell since 1997 under the now defunct Hollywood Pictures. In the mid-2000s, New Line Cinema held the rights to the series with Jan De Bont (Of Speed fame) and Guillermo del Toro involved.

Most recently, Eli Roth has announced that he will direct a film adaptation Meg.
The initially unrelated The Loch features another scientist, Zachary Wallace, whose career is nearly destroyed when an expedition to the Sargasso Sea to find a giant squid leads to disaster. Months later, Dr. Wallace, suffering from a crippling fear of the water, is forced to return to his native Scotland in order to support his father, who is on trial for murder and claims the Loch Ness Monster was the real killer. This forces Zach into confronting his own inner demons and, after tracking it down, Nessie itself. The book's sequel brought characters from both Meg and The Loch together, Canon Welding the two series.

The Meg series contains examples of:

  • Anti-Hero: Angel.
  • Artistic License Paleontology: Despite Steve Alten claiming to have done the research, this trope is readily apparent from the first scene of the first novel, where a Megalodon eats a Tyrannosaurus rex that waded into a shallow sea chasing prey. Ignoring the bizarre reasoning for this scene, Megalodon didn't exist until tens of millions of years after the dinosaurs went extinct. They also were not twice the length of the largest Tyrannosaurs, as the novel claims.
  • Asshole Victim: More than a few jerks get eaten by the megalodon and other predators.
  • Avenging the Villain: Michael Maren blames Jonas for Celeste Singer's death, which is part of what motivates him in Primal Waters. Allison Petrucci, his assistant and fiancee, has the same goal in Hell's Aquarium.
  • Bad Ass: Jonas Taylor. Mac counts as well.
  • Big Bad: Angel's mother could be considered the main villain in the first book, though she wasn't outright evil. Benedict Singer serves as the main antagonist in the second book and Michael Maren in the third.
    • Bigger Bad: Benedict Singer's organization is backed by an Arab conglomerate, including Osama Bin Laden. In a book published two years before 9/11.
    • Big Bad Duumvirate: The two leaders of RAW (a PETA-type organization), could qualify as this in Hell's Aquarium. They form a Big Bad Ensemble with the Liopleurodon.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The Panthalessa Sea and Liopleurodon are both introduced by Michael Maren (though not using those terms) when he and Jonas meet again in Primal Waters, but do not appear until Hell's Aquarium.
  • Cool VS Awesome: Megalodon vs Kronosaurus. And a super-sized (read:bigger than a blue whale!) Liopleurodon.
  • Driven to Suicide: Bud Harris, a friend of Jonas who's also been sleeping with his wife Maggie. After she's killed by the Megalodon and he fails to kill the shark itself in revenge, Bud blows his own brains out.
    • David Taylor tries this when he slits his own wrists in the two months after his girlfriend is killed by Liopleurodon. Fortunately, the wounds aren't fatal.
  • Extreme Omnivore: Megalodons will eat almost anything they can catch. However, there is one notable aversion: even Angel, the largest Megalodon ever seen in the series, can't digest a full-grown grizzly bear, as seen in Primal Waters.
  • Infant Immortality: Averted. In the original edition of the very first book, both of Angel's brothers are killed off, one moments after birth, the other at just a few days old. The Trench has two children dying, one killed by Angel, the other being Jonas and Terry's unborn child, who was stillborn before the events of the book.
  • Karmic Death: Michael Maren in the third book is ultimately killed by his own pet Megalodon, Scarface.
  • Killed Off for Real: Angel in Hell's Aquarium, at the jaws of the same liopleurodon that previously killed her son Scarface. The liopleurodon itself, along with Angel's daughters Lizzie and Belle, die in Night Stalkers, but all three have surviving offspring.
  • Large Ham: Mac.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Benedict Singer is the biological father of his protege Celeste. Given that he's also her lover, she does not react well to learning this.
  • Lost World: The Mariana Trench, and especially the Panthalassa Sea.
  • Meaningful Name: Several of the megalodons, including Angel (short for "white angel of death") and Scarface (the second-born of Angel's first litter, named by Michael Maren). In addition, four of her daughters are Named After Somebody Famous. Averted with Scarface's nameless brother and Angel's fifth daughter Angelica.
  • Meaningful Rename: Mary-Kate and Ashley, two of Angel's daughters from her second litter, are renamed Afra' (Arabic for white) and Zahra' (Arabic word for "bright" or "shining") after being purchased by the prince of Dubai.
  • Named After Somebody Famous: Four of Angel's five daughters. Runts Mary-Kate and Ashley were named for the Olson Twins. Their older half-sisters are Elizabeth, or Lizzie for short, who is named for Elizabeth Bathory, the infamous "Countess of Blood". Belle, or "Bela the Dark Overlord" (so named for her dark coloration, as she is the only known megalodon with pigment) is named for American serial killer Belle Gunness.
  • Offing the Offspring: Angel's mother devours one of her own sons moments after birth. Flashbacks in Primal Waters have another meg female doing much the same. Near the end of the book, Angel kills her own older son after mating with him.
  • Parental Incest: Benedict Singer and his daughter Celeste in The Trench, Angel and her nameless elder son in Primal Waters.
  • Patricide: Celeste kills her own father in The Trench shortly after discovering he IS her biological father.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Terry Tanaka wants the female Meg that killed her brother dead; she eventually loses her anger at the creature and winds up surviving the book (though the Meg does not). Bud Harris, Frank Heller and Richard Danielson team up to try and kill Angel's mother after the deaths of Bud's lover, Frank's brother and most of Danielson's crew; none of them survive the attempt. More than a few people who lost loved ones to the Meg attempt revenge by proxy, suing the people who tried to capture the beast instead of outright killing it.
    • At the very end of Hell's Aquarium, David Taylor makes it clear that he wants revenge on the liopleurodon that killed his girlfriend. He succeeds in Night Stalkers, but holds no such grudge against its offspring.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Over half of the fourth novel sees David, Jonas's son, try to save/protect his girlfriend from the abyss and their less than scrupulous employers. Near the end it looks like he has succeeded as they narrowly escape the abyss. She is then promptly eaten by a liopleurodon (by accident no less). It's jarring to say the least.
  • Straw Character: Both left and right.
  • Threatening Shark: And even more threatening when they're giant sharks!
  • Truly Single Parent: Sharks in general are apparently moving towards reproduction by parthenogenesis. Angel's three youngest daughters (Mary-Kate, Ashley and Angelica) were born this way, and they and their half-sisters Lizzie and Belle are fully capable of it.
  • The Worf Effect: There are many examples in the series where a Megalodon defeats equally large and dangerous predators (to the point of bordering on Villain Sue), but only the opening scene of the first novel qualifies (wherein Meg eats a Tyrannosaurus rex) because the marine reptiles are too obscure to the general public to be this trope.

The Loch books contain examples of:

  • Ancient Conspiracy: One is responsible for trapping the largest beasts in the loch in the first place, forcing them to serve as guardians of a silver casket containing the heart of Robert the Bruce, King of Scots from 1306 until his death in 1329.
  • Asshole Victim: David Caldwell, a self-promoting hack who mostly relies on stealing other people's work to advance his own position. When Nessie eats him, nobody is upset.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: Nessie has grown to over 50 feet long due to being trapped in the loch for so long, unable to escape, mate and die like her ancestors did.
  • Bad Ass: Zachary Wallace faces Nessie in its den and stabs its eye with a sword he finds down there, ultimately leading to the beast's death.
  • Break the Cutie: Brandy MacDonald, Zach's love interest, underwent this in the years before Zach's return to Scotland. She's gotten better, but it took some doing.
  • Gaia's Vengeance: The monster goes on a rampage when the vibrations from dynamite, used during construction, set it off. When oil gets into its brain and damages it, she gets even crazier.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Nessie has developed a taste for human flesh, due in part to its natural food chain being disrupted. Oil is seeping into the Great Glen, and has damaged her brain, causing her to become more violent.
  • Lost World: The sequel is set to feature Vostok, a six thousand square mile liquid lake, over a thousand feet deep located two-and-a-half miles beneath the Antarctic ice cap, home to Mesozoic life forms long thought extinct. And to something responsible for the evolution of modern man.
  • Mysterious Antarctica: The setting of the sequel.
  • Stock Ness Monster: Nessie herself, revealed as the Guivres, a giant species of eel, kin to the Anguilla, or Conger, eel. Others of her species are known to the public as the Bloop, a mysterious noise initially detected in the Atlantic Ocean by the Navy in 1997.
  • Trigger: The events that lead to Zach's near-drowning on his ninth birthday are his trigger, causing him to suffer from fierce migraines whenever anyone mentions them. He eventually gets over this after being forced to confront his inner demons and the truth about that night.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: After the accident in the Sargasso Sea, Zach develops a crippling fear of the water. Like his migraines, confronting his inner demons (and Nessie) causes him to get over this.