"Snow Shark" Book Review

Written by Kat Albrecht

Independently Published

snow shark brian g berry poster large

Written by Brian G. Berry
2022, 209 pages, Fiction
Released on April 3rd, 2022

Review:

There is nothing, I repeat NOTHING, I love more than an unconventional Shark B-movie (as proven by this Top 10 list). So, when I caught wind of Snow Sharks by Brian Berry, I knew I had to check it out. The flavor text for the book describes everything I’ve ever wanted in a set of books officially called ‘VHS Trash Books,’

It was supposed to be a family vacation. The celebration of a birthday. A weekend of skiing and smiles. But something haunts the slopes, hunts beneath the snow. No longer does it require the sea, no longer the depths of dark waves. Conditioned for land, a winter terror is unleashed upon the guests who inhabit the resort of White Cap Lodge. Slopes will run red, people will scream, and out there in the snow, no man, no woman, nor child, is safe from the jaws of:

SNOW SHARK!

It is no longer the sea you have to fear.

A book about a giant snow shark that massacres a ski resort ought to be extremely fun or extremely bleak. But interestingly, Snow Shark is neither. Snow Shark makes it clear that it isn’t aiming for camp or humor by virtue of having no jokes or reflexivity about its titular antagonist, excluding the occasional ‘no one will believe this’ type aside. Similarly, the story is not especially bleak, despite the massive bloodshed, because we aren’t meant to care about most of the characters at all.

My expectation from the summary was Snow Shark would be attempting to capture the magic of a Creature Feature of the Week, but instead, it forgets to capture the joy of the genre. This joy could be humor, it could be satire or caricature, or it could be rejoicing in the luridness of the kills a la ‘70s and ‘80s pulp paperbacks. Instead, Snow Shark delivers a story with a beginning, but no middle and no real end.

Show Shark is a book half-written. It hints at character dynamics and lays the groundwork for an action-adventure, but then it abandons its own setup in favor of pedantic description and faceless action. Now the irony of critiquing a book as ‘pedantic’ after using the word ‘luridness’ in my own review is not lost on me, but my experience of reading this book included having to Google what some words meant. The descriptions of simple actions and gestures are also very, very long. If intentional, the juxtaposition of a very sesquipedalian text with a silly subject could be effective (I did that on purpose, I swear). However, it isn’t compatible enough with the actual narrative and character development to come across as an intentional writing style.

I see what Berry was doing, beginning the story with strong alternating perspectives from chapter to chapter as the characters’ storylines converge between the military men and the families on vacation. There is one particularly nice perspective shift from a military man’s thoughts to a child’s video game that really stands out.

Similarly, the book is at its strongest when it introduces side characters (for the purpose of getting destructo-ed by the snow shark), giving the characters a backstory and really populating the world of the story before their sudden demise. If I had to liken the device to a popular read, I would say it gave me echoes of the opening to Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash, where we briefly enter the wonderful world of the Deliverator. If you haven’t read Snow Crash, go read it – it’s an absolute master class in world development.

Snow Shark starts stronger than it ends. As the kills mounted, I cared less and it seems like Berry didn’t care either. By the time I reached the end, I didn’t feel strongly about the humans, the ski resort, or the snow shark. You’ll notice in this review I didn’t even mention who any of the characters are. That’s because, after half a dozen chapters of promising character grounding, it just doesn’t end up mattering.

Will I read the next book in the series? Yes. Do I hope the next installment is either more fun or stays the course more strongly toward a climax and a resolution? Also yes. As it is, I will leave Snow Shark with 3/5 stars and make sure to keep an eye on the snow for any monster sharks headed my way.

Grades:

Overall: 3 Star Rating Cover
Buy from Amazon US.
Cover
Buy from Amazon UK.

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Kat Albrecht
Staff Reviewer
Kat Albrecht is a legally trained sociologist and computational social scientist studying how complex data can inform policy, with particular emphasis on the nexus of fear, criminal data, and the law. In other words, she’s a college professor who studies horror films sometimes. Her research specialties are practical special effects, creature features, and arguing about the meaning of genre. Kat will gleefully review any film that takes place in the ocean or in outer space and exclusively paints portraits of herself.
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