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Natural Selection Mass Market Paperback – July 2, 2007

3.8 out of 5 stars 127 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The sea monster "Demonray," who makes landfall in Freedman's far-fetched but entertaining debut, possesses all the predatory features to provide maximum chills. It's got a big brain, big wings, big teeth and a big purpose: to devour anything in its path, including humans. Harry Ackerman, a jaded millionaire whose Manta World (think Jurassic Park) failed when all his captive manta rays died, learns about the sighting of a mysterious flying ray and dispatches a staff of young scientists led by ichthyologist Jason Aldridge, "the next Jacques Cousteau," to investigate. What they find is no ordinary airborne ray, but an amphibious "new order" that has the potential to wipe out mankind. The exciting, science-packed hunt moves quickly but slows down once the crew encounters the Demonray in Northern California's Redwood National Park. Culminating in a cartoonish showdown, this Michael Crichton adventure wanna-be suffers from other odd plot elements, unconvincing romance and pedestrian prose, but it might make an awesome beach read. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

This debut novel changes before your very eyes. It begins as an implausible riff on Jurassic Park, with carnivorous rays (those big, flat sea creatures) standing in for the dinosaurs. But somewhere along the way, something remarkable happens to the story: you start believing it. Is it the author's enthusiasm, or his characters, or his research? Whatever the reason, there comes a moment when you feel the first twinge of fear, and then you realize that you're buying into this story of giant, prehistoric rays that have learned to fly (yes, fly, in the air) and are now hunting on land. Some of the imagery--shapes swooping out of the blackness, rays as big as hang gliders hovering in midair--evoke a visceral terror in the reader. And the protagonists, a research crew struggling to figure out what these creatures are--and then running for their lives from them--are a likable bunch. Okay, so bits of the story are a little shopworn, like the financially strapped theme-park owner who sends the crew of plucky young scientists out to find the creatures, but in the end, this hardly matters. Like all the best horror authors, Freedman takes his story well beyond the safety of camp; by making it believable, he makes it genuinely terrifying--and when that happens, large audiences follow. Don't be surprised if giant flying fish are the talk of the summer. Keep watching the skies. David Pitt
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 414 pages
  • Publisher: Hachette Books (July 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786893923
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786893928
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.2 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (127 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,782,343 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Cory D. Slipman on November 3, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Dave Freedman's initial literary offering "Natural Selection" is a biologic thriller along the same lines as Crichton's incomparable "Jurassic Park", but not at that level. Freedman's premise is based on the rapid evolution of an ocean inhabiting species of giant ray into a unparalleled predator devoid of natural enemies.

The predator known as the Clarita Demonray was originally a previously unknown deep water denizen of the sea related to the more familiar manta ray. An oceanic virus known as GDV-4 was destroying the vast populations of plankton which was having disasterous effects of those species dependent on it for its food source. This forced the demonray to rise from the depths to seek alternative food supplies.

A research vessels manned by six scientists was combing the waters off the California coast working for a marine park known as Manta World. The park the brain child of dot com multi millionaire Harry Ackerman was an abyssmal failure, unable to sustain the mantas in captivity. The group led by icthyologist Jason Aldridge was seeking answers as to why the manta weren't surviving. They were drawn to Clarita Island based on reports of a sighting of thousands of little rays seen propelling themselves out of the water and attempting to fly! One actually landed on the deck of a nearby boat and shockingly appeared to be breathing.

Soon a carcass of a huge adult demonray was found beached along the coast. An autopsy was performed and the teeth and brains of the ray were accompanied by the research team to various experts in those fields. The astounding analysis revealed a highly intelligent predatory machine with an almost lack of ability to feel pain.

The research team, all but one Phd.
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This is a better than average first novel. The writing shows promise although the story is a bit formulaic. Definitely an interesting predator, the author did his research. The characters are interesting and should have been developed a bit more. And, I would have enjoyed a few more gritty, blood and guts action scenes. Plus, I think a few F-bombs and other swear words would have made the ex-Army characters more believable.
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Format: Hardcover
I should preface this by saying that books like this are not normally my cup of tea. But a friend who is generally "particular" absolutely loved it so I decided to give it a try ...

I could not put this book down. I read it in three sittings and every time I had to get up I did so reluctantly. To my delight (and I must admit, my amazement) I found this novel very intellectually stimulating. It just reminded me of how little I really know about nature and it got me thinking about what other species are out there that we know nothing of: whether in the sea, the rain forests, the deserts ... The author digs deep into complicated subjects I admittedly know nothing about yet he makes them readable and great fun: all about viruses, how they originate and spread, details of how a brain works, the difference between lungs and gills, what deep sea vents are, fascinating details about northern california's redwood trees and what "prescribed fires" are. Yet what's amazing is that the author does this very economically and without slowing down the plot for even a second. The pages absolutely fly!! Truly very difficult to put down!! What a page turner!

One caveat. I generally enjoy more character driven novels than this; to be candid, the characters here were not fantastic and lacked real depth; that said, for a thriller they were much better than normal, far superior to the stick figures of the Da Vinci Code for example. But this was still an enthralling, engrossing book! For reasons I don't normally state, I found it accessible, educational, and completely addictive!! So far, our 14 year old feels the same way; normally he's a video game addict but is already 100-odd pages in; needless to say generally NOT a reader!!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I loved this book! I'm a soldier in the US Army in Louisiana, and saw this book in a doctor's office on base, and since I've been interested in science for as long as I can remember, I was fascinated by the plotline. Couldn't put it down! This is the first book I've loved reading from beginning to end since before I enlisted more than two years ago. This would make a GREAT movie. Someone call Joss Whedon because he'd love it!

Sincerely,

A very happy soldier
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I liked this book, I really did—it was a fun read. I highly recommend it.
I had no problem with suspension of disbelief, as far as the creatures were concerned—the monsters were very unique—and I liked the characters.
But I have to say, it did remind me of the old 1950s Lone Ranger TV show—where 100s of bullets and arrows were fired—and they never ran out of ammo. They must have had a golf caddy following them around full of arrows and bullets to keep them supplied.
Plus, even Legolas—of LOTR fame—couldn't simultaneously shoot three clay pigeons (skeet) out the air with a bow and arrow on one throw. One clay pigeon, I could have believed, but three? Please. A long-bow is not an automatic weapon.
But read it—it’s a fun read—I recommend it. Really.
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