Despite having a very heavy load of titles to review, Apex Predator was just one of those books I couldn't say 'no' to. I mean, you've got a secret Chinese satellite crashed in the arctic, a group of Navy Seals racing against the Chinese Special Forces who are sent to retrieve it, a submarine crew on the way to rescue (with a Captain who has lost his nerve and the support of his XO), and a giant prehistoric monster awakened from beneath the ice. With Kelvin Kwa willing to send over the doorstopper paperback, it became one of my first beach reads of the early summer.
We got off to something of an awkward start, with a few narrative flaws that irked me, but it all smoothed itself out and I quickly found myself settling in. I'm a sucker for both giant monster stories and submarine warfare, and I'm pleased to say Kwa pays off on both counts. This is one of those rare hybrid novels that actually works, managing to blend the genre of the high-tech thriller with that of horror. I was initially afraid there might be too much going on, especially with the tensions between Captain Marcus and his XO, the introduction of a (as it turns out) not-so-Bond-like special agent, and the tensions within the Chinese crew, but it all comes together very well.
The characters here are well-developed, with some genuine growth and surprises along the way, and Kwa smartly avoids the usual temptation to glorify the 'good' guys and vilify the 'bad' ones. This is a well-rounded cast that you get to know and like, becoming completely invested in their fate. As for the monster, I'd rather not say too much about it, but I quite like the way its cunning intelligence was explored, making it more than just another mindless super-beast. The story is well-paced too, getting off to a quick start, throwing us right into the height of the action, and then racing along from there.
With the exception of those few narrative gaffes I mentioned earlier, this is a really strong story, and one that ably delivers on what is, admittedly, a very ambitious premise. If you've ever wondered what might happen if the Red October were to come against Godzilla, and ever thought about how much darkness there is within a character like James Bond, then Apex Predator is a book I think you'll enjoy very much.
Paperback, 670 pages
Published December 9th 2013 by Createspace