Review: The Loch by Steve Alten

Marine biologist Zachary Wallace once suffered a near-drowning experience in legendary Loch Ness, and now, long-forgotten memories of that experience have begun haunting him. The truth surrounding these memories lies with Zachary’s estranged father, Angus Wallace, a wily Highlander on trial for murder. Together the two plunge into a world where the legend of Loch Ness shows its true face.

The Loch by Steve Alten. Book # 1 in The Loch series. Narrated by P. J. Ochlan. Published by Blackstone Audio, in December 2016. Total run time is 15 hours and 17 mins. Originally read this in July 2017.

This is the second time reading The Loch. First time was with the physical (very long) book of 500+ pages. This time around I decided to go with the audiobook version. I’m a slow reader and lengthy books make me wary, regardless of if they are supposed to be really good. I knew I’d get through it faster if I went with audio instead this time.

500+ pages (or 15 hours), and this book really feels it. Don’t get me wrong, I had a lot of fun reading The Loch and revisiting it again, but it does feel like there is a lot of down time going on in the story. Like, there is a LOT of background on the whole history of Scotland. Ok, cool… some of it does tie into the story (kinda), but I don’t think we need the ENTIRE history of the land, right? Just skip to the part about the Braveheart, since that is the only part that ties to the story.

I don’t mind learning about the history of Scotland, but that’s not what I wanted when I pick up a Steve Alten book, you know? I want a sea creature destroying shit. Not a huge history lesson. In this book, it felt like the over all story was kind of weighed down by all the educational parts. 😮 I’m pretty sure anyone reading this book, isn’t really looking to be educated, yeah? I don’t know. Maybe it’s just me? But it felt like a good 100 pages at least could be edited out of here.

The plot is one part monster search and one part murder mystery. I actually really enjoyed both parts and I liked how they tied together. Now, think of this book akin to a b-movie horror monster movie showing late Saturday night, complete with a horror host like Elvira talking about how crazy it is. Ok? You know what I mean? You don’t watch those sort of movies for accurate information or award winning acting, right? All the time, my friend will just shout out during a movie “I don’t know about the science of this /that!!” and I respond with “We aren’t watching this movie for the science!!”

You watch them because it’s just FUN and entertaining. Well, The Loch is a lot like that. That is not a bad thing at all, if you know what you are signing up for when you pick the book up in the first place. Some people complain about the cliche plot, characters, or romance. Some people complain about the inaccuracies with the legal system, history, or dialect of Scotland. *Shrug* Well, I don’t know what to tell you, ok? Yeah, the author could have tightened up a few things, or maybe did a little bit more research or whatever… Sure. I don’t think it is horribly written, but it’s not exactly amazingly written either…? Sure, there are problems. It can still be fun though.

I admit, I am obsessed with sea creatures and a big fan of Nessie, in general. I’m a total sucker for any sort of Loch Ness monster story. I thought the idea of what Nessie really is was a pretty epic idea. I had never heard that theory before… Makes me want to go learn more about that particular water critter!

P. J. Ochlan narrated The Loch. I thought he did a really nice job. Everyone sounded distinct from one another. Clear difference between the men and women voices. I had never heard this narrator before, and I was pretty happy with his performance. Zach pretty much sounded like how I thought he would have sounded. P.J. seemed to nail the personalities pretty well with the emotions he put into his performance. Loved the exasburation and annoyance in Zach’s voice! Spot on.

Now, I know…. I just deafened the funness of this book. BUT. There are a few problems that did bother me a little bit with The Loch. Now, I can’t really put my finger on it… but sometimes it felt like there were a few continuity issues? Like, I don’t remember specifics – doh! I forgot to make notes on it when listening! >.< – but sometimes during the story I was kind of surprised about something someone did because I could have sworn earlier in the story that person couldn’t do it? Or like they couldn’t find an important item but then a few chapters later they somehow had it all of a sudden? I don’t know… just little things like that. Not glaringly obvious stuff, but enough to make you kind of pause and wonder if you had misheard / misread something earlier.

Another thing that did kind of bug me was that the ending wrap up chapter felt super tacked on. I don’t even get why it was needed? The story would have been perfectly fine to just end with the climax of facing the creature and being rescued by the Templar knights.

Ok, so this is a real quick side note: So, I have no problem if the author wants to write in an accent for their main character. But….. DO NOT establish that your main character moved to the USA when they were young and lost their accent 100% and they talk totally “American” throughout book 1 in the series, AND THEN, in book 2, that same main character all of a sudden has a heavy accent for no real reason. WTFFFFF?! I emailed the author and asked why he did that? His reply was that he wanted Zach to stand out from the other main character in the book, who was American. WHAT?? (I wish I could make the font size bigger because I feel like the font size of that “WHAT” does not accurately display my level of OMGness to the author’s reply!) Dude. NOPE. I’m sorry, but that is not good writing, ok? I love you, Steve Alten, but no. Just…. no. It is super fucking confusing in book 2 with zero explanation and that excuse doesn’t even make any fucking sense IN THE FIRST PLACE!!! 😡 I can look the other way on a lot of bad writing, but that kind of shit right there drives me crazy. You can have the most ridiculous, implausible plot and characters ever, alright, cool, but at least be consistent with how you write them! UGH!!

So anyways…. I had fun revisiting The Loch. Is it the most perfect, well written book ever? No, not exactly. But it’s crazy and entertaining in a fun b-movie creature feature sort of way that can still be very enjoyable. It could have used a little bit of editing and a few inconsistent spots fixed up. This is my second time reading it and I still enjoyed it. But I am a sucker for Nessie and sea creatures, so there is that. >.>


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