Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Review-- Tsunami

Title: Tsunami
Author: Gordon Gumpertz
ISBN: 9781930754805/ Durban House Press, 2008
Genre: Thriller
Rating: C

First Line: The container ship Moro Prince, bound from Manila to Los Angeles, had enjoyed three days of smooth sailing.

Add to my penchant for post-apocalyptic fiction a love of books about killer natural phenomena: tornadoes, hurricanes, volcanoes. I'm not quite sure why I enjoy them so much, unless it's the simple urge to see humans triumph over seemingly insurmountable odds. I found the premise of Tsunami fascinating: a huge underwater volcano out in the middle of the Pacific is ready to blow, and if the worst case scenario comes true, a 200-foot tidal wave will hit Southern California. Millions of people could die.

Seismologist Leilani Sanches has been watching this volcano, and she believes that the worst case scenario will indeed come to pass. The trouble is, when she tries to alert people, no one really wants to listen...especially real estate developers and other scuzzy capitalists.

Some plot threads in the novel work better than others. Gumpertz' strength does not lie in characterization. I found most of the people to be rather two-dimensional, and the author never made me really care what happened to any of them. The Good Guys were too good (and lucky); the Bad Guys were too bad (and unlucky). Where Gumpertz' strength does lie is in the plot threads surrounding the volcano, the resultant waves of tsunamis, and their effect on the Southern California coastline. When he wrote about these events, I was glued to the page. When the tsunamis did hit California, the author started bringing in more characters, showing us what happened to them. This would have been a powerful addition to the book if these characters had shown up earlier so the reader could get to know and care about them. Their brief appearances occurring when they did were poignant but weren't the knock-out punch they could've been.

All in all, I'm glad I read the book because it did contain a lot of information about sciences that fascinate me. For a character-driven reader like myself, Tsunami was a bit of a letdown, but I will be on the lookout for other books by this author.

What about you? I've mentioned my preferences for books about killer natural phenomena like hurricanes and volcanoes. Do any of you like books that are quite a change from your more "normal" reading?


  1. I'm not too big into killer natural phenomena -- maybe because I grew up in tornado country. But I like to stretch my boundaries sometimes.

  2. Beth--I grew up in tornado country, too. The small village where I lived was on a hill, and it was always said that the Indians had blessed that hill. There might be something to that, since the town itself has never been hit by a tornado...although two small subdivisions that aren't on the hill *have*!


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