Eye of the Whale by Douglas Carlton Abrams

Eye of the Whale is both a compelling mystery and a cautionary tale.

Intrigue. Romance. Danger. Life. Death. Loyalty. Betrayal. Eye of the Whale has what it takes to get a reader’s pulse racing clear to the last page. But there’s more to this novel than a mystery. After years of thorough research, author Douglas Carlton Abrams has skillfully woven a tale that teaches as much as it entertains. Abrams combines hard scientific facts about the pollution that threatens the world’s sea creatures with a page-turning thrill ride.

When I taught science to fifth graders some 20 years ago, there was a push among educators to find fiction that could be used to teach the principles of science through story. This wasn’t exclusive to science classes, of course; nor was it confined to middle school. One of my grad school classes also used a novel to teach about business principles. It’s an effective technique, as a well-written story engages the reader far more than most textbooks ever could.

Eye of the Whale is an excellent literary vehicle for making the current threat of pollution immediate and real. The author accomplishes this by creating characters — not all of them human — that readers come to know and care about. From a mother whale who begins a new, mysterious song that carries around the world to a ravenous shark whose violent kills are simply a means of survival to a male whale stranded in a California river, the animals have compelling plot lines that draw the reader in.

Author Douglas Carlton Abrams listens to whale songs with marine biologist Libby Eyre in Tonga. Photo: Courtesy Douglas Carlton Abrams

Humans, too, carry the story, but the author leaves no doubt that everyone’s fate is interconnected; if the ocean creatures die, we all die. And that message is chillingly clear as the plot unfolds. This is not science fiction; it’s documented fact. And we all need to take note while we still can.

The book isn’t perfect (I found some of the characters to be a bit stereotyped), but the story line is intriguing. I read long into the night, eager to learn how everything would turn out. While the resolution was satisfying (that’s enough to tell you), the mystery of our own fate on this planet is far more uncertain.

Eye of the Whale pushes the reader to contemplate the immediate and more-distant future. Will we continue to hunt the sentient giants that inhabit our seas? Will we mutate and destroy all living creatures with our careless disregard for the environment we share with them? And, in the end, will we ourselves become just one more extinct species that the planet sheds itself of?

There may yet be time to effect change. Or not. The author would have us all feel the urgency to make a dramatic course correction now, before it really is too late.

Eye of the Whale is published by Atria Books and is available for purchase on Amazon and other websites. It’s a tale well worth reading — and learning from.

The Small Print

Blue Planet Green Living received a free copy of the book reviewed in this post. No other compensation or incentive was provided.

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Julia Wasson

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