Ocean Echoes

Fiction - Womens
415 Pages
Reviewed on 09/02/2016
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Sheila Hurst grew up in Michigan and Massachusetts, contributing to a split personality involving a love of farmlands and the ocean. She has worked as a reporter and freelance writer with articles published in Cape Cod Life, Cape Cod Magazine, and Boston newspapers. Her short stories have been Glimmer Train and Writer’s Digest finalists. Ocean Echoes is her first novel.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Benjamin Ookami for Readers' Favorite

Sheila Hurst's Ocean Echoes touches a subject that we as humans, especially those of us surrounded by concrete instead of the ocean, don't pay much attention to: the subject of how we, whether directly or indirectly, affect ocean life in a deleterious way. Ellen gave up a life of marriage and happiness to do what she always wanted to do. To her, jellyfish are the most interesting creatures. She has always been fascinated by them, even when the people responsible for funding her research are more interested in numbers than anything else. On a research cruise set for the Atoll Islands, Ellen discovers what could be a new species. After doing a routine DNA test, she discovers something even more interesting.

I feel like I'm still there, along with Ellen and the other researchers on that research ship. I can still hear the sound of the waves and see the majesty of that thing called the ocean. The author has taken me on a discovery as much as she did her protagonist. I don't know what it is about the way the prose is written, but my mind is still filled with these images of the vast blue, divers traversing the ocean below and maneuvering through sea creatures, and the brand new species of jellyfish that added a subtle science fiction element to this novel. Ocean conservationists will want to get this book into as many readers' hands as possible.

Jack Magnus

Ocean Echoes is an environmental thriller written by Sheila Hurst. Ellen's work as a marine biologist specializing in the study of jellyfish was her passion, her whole reason for living. She had given up on the concept of romantic love after Paul, her lover and the man she planned to spend the rest of her life with, stole her research and used it in a paper that got him a cushy job in San Francisco. He hadn't even seemed contrite, despite the fact that he hadn't even acknowledged her contributions in the paper. After that, her focus was firmly fixed on the job -- there was no room for trust or personal relationships anymore. Lately, however, her position at the Deep Harbor Marine Institute was threatened after her disastrous foul-up in conserving the rare jellyfish she had secured for her boss. Now, her professional future rode on her performance during the Atoll Islands research cruise. These remote, and for the most part, uninhabited islands represented her last chance to secure the funding necessary to stay at Deep Harbor, and she was determined to make the most of the opportunity. What she found at the Atoll Islands was staggering.

Sheila Hurst's environmental thriller, Ocean Echoes, gives the reader a pleasing blend of women's fiction, marine science, and suspense. I had a grand time reading this book and found myself frequently Googling the places, creatures, and history mentioned in the story as I proceeded. Ellen is of particular interest as a main character in a scientific-based story because of the traditional impediments her gender often faces in the hard sciences. Hurst also uses her character’s work situation to address questions about whether women can have both careers and love/family relationships, or are they mutually exclusive. I was saddened by the anecdotal story of women marine biologists being denied the right to conduct research on board a ship in the not too distant past. Hurst's story is suspenseful, fascinating, and well-plotted. I particularly enjoyed the dives Ellen and her assistant, Ryan, take while on the research cruise, and loved the historical aspects of the tale. Ocean Echoes is a first-rate environmental thriller, and it's most highly recommended.