The Loch by Steve Alten

The Loch bored me in new ways I couldn't perceive. It tells of story about a marine biologist named Zachary Wallace. For years Zach has been experiencing night terrors of a near drowning event in Loch Ness during his childhood in his hometown of Scotland. Now his father, Angus Wallace, stands on trial for murder. Zach must return to Scotland and must face his fear of the legend behind Loch Ness.
Steve Alten was born in August 21, 1959 who is an American science fiction author is known best for his Meg novels. A series about a paleontologist, Jonas Taylor, finds a megalodon, a massive prehistoric shark, and attempts to prove its existence to the world. The series almost became a film however was cancelled. Alten founded the Adopt-An-Author which is a school reading program to motivate young adults to read.
Zach is the main character in the novel. He quickly explains his disgust toward his father, Angus. He describes Angus as “a brute of a man, possessing jet-black hair and the piercing blue eyes of the Gael” (Alten 8). Zach clearly hates his father throughout the novel. It becomes quite annoying to be reminded of the grudge on almost every page. Other characters pop up in the book to aid Zach on his adventure. An important character is True MacDonald, Zach's oldest and best friend. True, a “giant with the auburn ponytail…was six-foot-five and heavily muscled”, assists Zach the most in his search of the monster. In the novel, I developed no opinion of Zach. There was no reason to dislike or admire him. It was simply a story about him and Loch Ness.
The setting of the book is in Scotland obviously for it's where Loch Ness is located. Alten does not describe the scenery of Scotland. I have absolutely no idea what his hometown of Inverness looks like. It could be surrounded by mountains or covered in forests for all I know. All Alten does write is about where Zach travels but nothing about what the place looks like. Alten is too fixated on Zach and Loch Ness that he doesn't write about anything else.
The theme in The Loch is to face one's fears. The whole entire novel is revolved around Zach facing his fear. However Zach actually doesn't begin to fight his fears until the book is half over. For chapters his fear of the monster eats his soul until finally he gathers up courage and screams “ ‘Okay, beast, whatever you are, you've haunted my existence long enough…I'm coming after you!' “ (Alten 244). From that page on, Zach journeys to overcome his fear once and for all. He not only discovers the secrets within Loch Ness but other hidden in Scotland.

All of Alten's novels seem to have the same plot. Someone discovers a mysterious creature and sets out to capture it. Alten has no imagination which is why his novels have similar plots and the endings are mundane. He has very strong diction but relies on dialogue throughout the entire novel. Chapter after chapter becomes Zach's conversations with other characters in the novel. I am tired of reading what Zach has to say and want to read about what he does. Respected science fiction writers, such as Michael Crichton, uses dialogue only sometimes and excellent diction is flooded throughout the novel. Also Crichton's science fiction novels are riddled with variety instead of the same plot like Alten provides. Crichton's novels range from Andromeda Strain, a book about an alien virus that kills in a matter of seconds, to Prey, a swarm of nanobots which has developed a mind of its own. Both of which are New York Times Bestsellers. If I were to erase all the dialogue in The Loch, I would have a novel about ten pages long. Alten does do something unique. Between each chapter he inserts peoples' quotes about the monster in Loch Ness. Yet all the quotes are as uninteresting as the plot itself.
In The Loch Zach sets out to reveal the mystery of the creature in Loch Ness which sounds exciting and adventurous. However Zach doesn't start searching until the novel is half over meaning the reader has to read about Zach's hydrophobia and animosity toward Angus repeatedly for 245 pages! I expected Zach to go through some character development but I was mistaken. Unfortunately Zach is the same person going in Scotland as he is coming out. The only difference is he possesses no more night terrors. In fact all the other characters in the novel went through zero development. Everyone's personality and outlook in life remains exactly the same.

This novel doesn't appeal to me. I grow exhausted of reading Scottish accents for pages on end such as struggling to decipher what “dinnae” means. Sadly there is no Scottish accent –English dictionary to help me. Some parts of the novel I received an enormous history lesson on Scotland which might be interesting to a historian but not young adults. Alten has no idea what interests readers. A story about a legend of Loch Ness could have been amazing but Alten makes mistakes on every page. I would definitely not recommend this book to anyone. The plot is mundane and ending is incredibly cliché.





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