Extinct by Charles Wilson (1997)

ExtinctWilsonCover blurb

Six-year-old Paul Haines watches as two older boys dive into a coastal river…and don’t come up. His mother, Carolyn, a charter boat captain on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, finds herself embroiled in the tragedy to an extent she could never have imagined.


Carolyn joins with marine biologist Alan Freeman in the hunt for a creature that is terrorizing the waters along the Gulf Coast. But neither of them could have envisioned exactly what kind of danger they are facing.


Yet one man, Admiral Vandiver, does know what this creature is, and how it has come into the shallows. And his secret obsession with it will force him, as well as Paul, Carolyn and Alan, into a race against time…and a race toward death.

My thoughts

The disappearance of two boys swimming in the Mississippi River (or one of its branches) eventually leads biologist Alan Freeman to the discovery that the giant shark, Carcharodon megalodon, is still alive and has taken up residence along the Gulf Coast. He teams up with a single mom and an admiral obsessed with the shark to stop it.

Extinct desperately wants to be Jaws, and while it’s not a total loss, it fails to capture both the film’s terror and its likeable characters. The book is rather slow-moving – as a mystery it gives away too much at the beginning to be compelling, and as a horror novel it has too few moments of real suspense. But at least the author, Charles Wilson, makes an attempt to give readers a sense of what it would be like for people living at the lower end of the food chain. As far as giant shark novels go, it’s better than Meg.


  • The cover tells readers “Extinct” is “coming to NBC-TV.” Trust me, it never came.


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