The Beast of Cretacea

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Strasser’s Beast of Cretacea is one thrilling ride from start to finish. It was something fresh and innovative, with an unexpected surprise ending. If I could give this captivating read more than 5 stars, it ranks as one of the few books, I would do so. Aside from the brilliant story, the cover was absolutely beautiful. Cretacea is a re-imagining of Melville’s Moby Dick, set in Earth’s dark future. Thankfully, this book dispenses with all of what made Moby Dick a terribly boring read to a twelve-year-old me- the chapters on marine life, whaling technicalities, and

Cretacea is a re-imagining of Melville’s Moby Dick, set in Earth’s dark future. Thankfully, this book dispenses with all of what made Moby Dick a terribly boring read to a twelve-year-old me- the chapters on marine life, whaling technicalities, and cetology in specific. What it keeps are things that would be familiar even to people who’ve never read Melville’s classic- names like Ishmael, Queequeg, Ahab, and Starbuck, a hunting ship called the Pequod, a great white beastie, and Ahab’s burning obsession with said beastie.Earth is dying. Covered in a smog and filth ridden greenhouse gas Shroud, water and food

Earth is dying. Covered in a smog and filth ridden greenhouse gas Shroud, water and food has become scarce. People of age are recruited to go on missions to distant places and hunt for food that is then processed and sent back.  Ishmael wakes from stasis aboard the Pequod.  With him are several other new arrivals- Queequeg, Billy, Gwen, and Pip. Their very first day aboardship they learn just how dangerous this job can be. Two chaseboats have brought in a terrafin. In an attempt to kill the beast, one of the crew ends up dead, and the terrafin goes free. Though smaller than the hunting ships’ normal prey, terrafin (read manta rays on steroids) are among the most deadly.  Soon enough, Ishmael is named skipper if his own chaseboat, with Queequeg, Billy, and Gwen as his crew. They make friends, make enemies, and end up in some unlikely places, such as among pirates, a ‘Swiss Family Robison’ like group of castaways turned islanders, and the nest of a roc-like flyer. Through all their adventures runs the undercurrent of Ahab’s obsession with the white Great Terrafin.

Like its predecessor, Cretacea is a warning against the destructive seduction of  obsession and revenge. In the end, it will cost you everything. It also showcases man’s penchant for greed. The Terrafin are valuable not as food, but commodities of a different sort. Just as whales were hunted for ambergris, the terrafin are hunted for a unique neurotoxin they produce. It’s a cautionary tale as well. This Earth, in the far (or not so far) future, has become a planet destroyed by the choking kudzu of humanity. The air is nigh unbreathable, food must be imported, the seas have disappeared. The waters are not locked in frigid glaciers. It’s just gone. The planet is becoming uninhabitable.

I loved the surprise at the end! I was rather pleased that I figured out part of it about halfway through. It was the name of the places Ishmael and his foster-brother Archie were sent- Cretacea and Permia- that clued me in. I truly can’t recommend Strasser’s Beast of Cretacea enough. The author has an engaging style, with well-developed characters. There was never a dull moment, and the lessons offered within seem not like admonishments, but priceless wisdom we should heed. That Earth had Cretacea. We do not.



Author Todd Strasser
Star Count 5/5
Format Hard
Page Count 432 pages
Publisher Candlewick Press
Publish Date October 13th 2015
ISBN 9780763669010
Amazon Buy this Book
Issue April 2016
Category Science Fiction & Fantasy
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