Summer Reads Review: The Shark Club by Ann Kidd Taylor
Book Review: The Shark Club by Ann Kidd Taylor
On a summer day in 1988, when the waves were as perfect as the Florida sunshine, two unpredictable things happen to Maeve Donelly. First, she is kissed by her first love; the boy of her childhood dreams. Second, she is bitten by a blacktip shark.
Though most victims would fear the ocean and the sharks that call it home, Maeve can’t wait to dive back in. Eighteen years after the attack, her obsession with these misunderstood creatures has led to an adventure-filled career. Maeve is a marine biologist, known reverently as, “The Shark Whisperer.” Her work is her passion, the love of her life.
After a months-long research excursion she returns to the literary-themed beach-side hotel she calls home. Waiting to greet her are Maeve’s twin brother, grandmother, and one unexpected remnant from her past. It’s Daniel, her first love and the boy whom she kissed on that fateful day eighteen years ago.
Maeve is pulled under by the siren call of what could have been. Should she rekindle her flame with Daniel, the fiance she abandoned for her work so many years ago? Or should she revel in a new romance with her colleague, Nicholas, a marine biologist who loves the sea as much as she does?
As the deadline for her next research assignment in Mozambique approaches and an illegal shark-finning operation investigation comes to a head, Maeve is forced to make a decision. Should she sacrifice her love of the ocean for a chance at a life with her first love?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
The Shark Club is Ann Kidd Taylor’s first solo work. She previously published a memoir with her mother, Sue Monk Kidd – author of The Secret Life of Bees – in 2010. The Shark Club is inspired in part by Taylor’s relocation to Florida, the ecosphere she found there, and by various women who have made a difference in the marine sciences. As part of her research for this contemporary women’s fiction novel, Taylor joined in on a shark-tagging survey expedition in the Ten Thousand Islands.
Ocean conservancy messaging floods our lives through various outlets on our phones, televisions, and newspapers. We’re all familiar with this message, but few of us take it to heart. To change minds, change the story. Storytelling is one of the oldest, and more effective, ways to share an evocative message. Accordingly, Taylor has weaved this important environmental impression into The Shark Club without ever sounding preachy, holier-than-thou, or by manipulating the reader with guilt. Instead, she presents a unique perspective through the guise of one thoughtful, inspiring character.
Maeve Donelly is a well-written, convincing character with dual motivations. She is a marine biologist unfailingly dedicated to her life’s work. Yet, she is also a thirty-year-old woman navigating the tumultuous waters of love. By sculpting this fully-realized character, Taylor has allowed the reader to relate to Maeve on an personal level. Maeve’s balancing act between her professional and personal lives mirrors the struggles faced by most modern-day working women, making The Shark Club a powerful addition to the Women’s Fiction genre.
Taylor has done more than execute powerful, relatable storytelling. Additionally, she has served her story well by two further methods:
- RESEARCH – Taylor conducted thorough research before writing from a marine biologist’s perspective. Research is an important aspect of any work of fiction, but particularly when writing from a scientist’s perspective. Taylor’s efforts were so well constructed they even passed the test of a reader with experience in biology – me. I was never once disrupted by inconsistencies or scientific methods which I would know to be inaccurate. Taylor deserves praise for her consistency in research that allows a more consistent, and therefore more powerful, message.
- TONE – Knowing her audience well, Taylor constructed The Shark Club with a light, contemporary tone. Her airy locution is perfect for a summer read by the beach or in the sun.
WHAT WOULD YOU CHANGE?
Some aspects of The Shark Club could have been further developed. However, this is a minor complaint and irrelevant when one considers the complete work. At just 271 pages, Taylor has made The Shark Club approachable enough for summertime. A broad audience could easily read it on a short vacation or over a few hours spent at the neighborhood pool. So, while it is true that the novel could have been made longer, the story-line works. It works well. The sacrifice of length for easy attainability is not made in vain.
WOULD YOU RECOMMEND IT?
Yes. The Shark Club is engaging and relatable. I have rated it according to three standard categories: writing style, characters, and plot (as shown below) to determine a 8 out of 10 rating. At the time of this posting, The Shark Club boasts a 4.3 out of 5 star rating on Amazon and a 3.7 out of 5 star rating on Goodreads.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
Ann Kidd Taylor’s The Shark Club is the perfect book to read this summer. Don’t let the season end before adding this to your to-be-read pile. Taylor has created an easy-to-read novel with an inspiring, relatable character in marine conservationist Maeve Donelly and blended in the perfect touch of beachy romance. Happy reading!
VERDICT: BUY IT
PAGE LENGTH: 271
PUBLISHER: Viking (June 6, 2017)
I hope you’ve enjoyed the book review of Ann Kidd Taylor’s The Shark Club. Keep scrolling for a rating breakdown and pro/con list.
The Shark Club was sent for review by the BookSparks Summer Reading Challenge.
- The perfect summer read
- Relatable main character
- Great choice of topic
- Could be more developed