Something strange and terrible is occurring in our oceans and seas. Whales and orcas have started attacking boats and tourists off the coast of Canada, South American fishermen are going missing, a lot of very odd worms have turned up near an ocean-floor drilling station near Norway, huge shoals of highly toxic jellyfish are plaguing the Australian beaches and a weird lobster explodes in a French restaurant, causing a lethal epidemic to spread.
Is the marine life fighting back against decades of our polluting the seas or is it all part of a terrorist plot to destabilize the world economy? Leading scientists from all over the world are recruited to try to figure out who or what is behind all of these occurrences but when events take a catastrophic turn for the worse, they soon come to realize that we may not be the most dominant species on Earth and never have been.
The Swarm was originally published in German and has been translated into English but I don't think it's lost anything in the translation as it's still a cracking read. At almost 900 pages, it's maybe a bit on the long side for some but Schätzing uses that to build and develop his main characters very well and, given the global scope of the storyline, there's a lot going on.
It starts off with a few small incidents coming to the attention of scientists and governments and builds in tension and speed as it heads towards the inevitably climactic conclusion. Schätzing has done his homework regarding the science behind the story pretty well, especially in the fields of marine biology, geology and geophysics, which makes it all the more plausible.
It's a change to read a novel written by a non American/non British author as Schätzing brings a definitely European perception of things into the mix. This isn't Independence Day and the Americans aren't going to get to save the world in this story or at least not without a lot of help from the rest of us.
While reading it, I was thinking it would make a good movie and lo and behold, I found out that actress and producer Uma Thurman bought the film rights to it in May 2006 and it has been subsequently announced that a film version is in the works for sometime in 2008. Unfortunately that probably means that the Americans will take all the main leads and ruin it.
Well worth reading all the way through to the end!
Genre: Horror, Mystery, Science-Fiction, Thriller
My Rating: 8/10