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The Maw

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For fans of Clive Cussler and Michael Crichton, a thrilling tale of an underground expedition to the deep . . . and the ultimate struggle for survival. Milo Luttrell never expected to step inside the mouth of an ancient cave in rural Tanzania. After all, he's a historian--not an archaeologist. Summoned under the guise of a mysterious life-changing opportunity, Milo suddenly For fans of Clive Cussler and Michael Crichton, a thrilling tale of an underground expedition to the deep . . . and the ultimate struggle for survival. Milo Luttrell never expected to step inside the mouth of an ancient cave in rural Tanzania. After all, he's a historian--not an archaeologist. Summoned under the guise of a mysterious life-changing opportunity, Milo suddenly finds himself in the midst of an expedition into the largest underground system in Africa, helmed by a brash billionaire-turned-exploration guru and his elite team of cavers. It's a once-in-a-lifetime chance to finally solve a century-old disappearance of the famed explorer Lord Riley DeWar, an enigmatic figure who both made--and nearly ruined--Milo's fledgling career. Determined to make the most of his second chance, Milo joins the team and begins a harrowing descent into one of Earth's last secrets: a dangerous, pitch-black realm of twisting passages and ancient fossils nearly two thousand feet underground. But when a storm hits the surface base camp, stranding the cavers and washing away supplies, all communication to the outside world is lost. As the remaining resources dwindle and members of the team begin to exhibit strange and terrifying abilities, Milo must brave the encroaching darkness to unearth the truth behind DeWar's fascination with the deep--and why he never left.


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For fans of Clive Cussler and Michael Crichton, a thrilling tale of an underground expedition to the deep . . . and the ultimate struggle for survival. Milo Luttrell never expected to step inside the mouth of an ancient cave in rural Tanzania. After all, he's a historian--not an archaeologist. Summoned under the guise of a mysterious life-changing opportunity, Milo suddenly For fans of Clive Cussler and Michael Crichton, a thrilling tale of an underground expedition to the deep . . . and the ultimate struggle for survival. Milo Luttrell never expected to step inside the mouth of an ancient cave in rural Tanzania. After all, he's a historian--not an archaeologist. Summoned under the guise of a mysterious life-changing opportunity, Milo suddenly finds himself in the midst of an expedition into the largest underground system in Africa, helmed by a brash billionaire-turned-exploration guru and his elite team of cavers. It's a once-in-a-lifetime chance to finally solve a century-old disappearance of the famed explorer Lord Riley DeWar, an enigmatic figure who both made--and nearly ruined--Milo's fledgling career. Determined to make the most of his second chance, Milo joins the team and begins a harrowing descent into one of Earth's last secrets: a dangerous, pitch-black realm of twisting passages and ancient fossils nearly two thousand feet underground. But when a storm hits the surface base camp, stranding the cavers and washing away supplies, all communication to the outside world is lost. As the remaining resources dwindle and members of the team begin to exhibit strange and terrifying abilities, Milo must brave the encroaching darkness to unearth the truth behind DeWar's fascination with the deep--and why he never left.

30 review for The Maw

  1. 4 out of 5

    Joseph

    The Maw by Taylor Zajonc is an adventure novel that takes place in modern-day Africa -- Tanzania to be exact. Milo Luttrell is a history professor who has a career downturn. He is likely to be out of a job because of his inability to publish outside of a personal blog. He risked his career on publishing a paper on Lord Riley DeWar that turned out to be incorrect. He has only a few friends left in academia and not much hope of a career. Milo's head of the department tells him of a project that ma The Maw by Taylor Zajonc is an adventure novel that takes place in modern-day Africa -- Tanzania to be exact. Milo Luttrell is a history professor who has a career downturn. He is likely to be out of a job because of his inability to publish outside of a personal blog. He risked his career on publishing a paper on Lord Riley DeWar that turned out to be incorrect. He has only a few friends left in academia and not much hope of a career. Milo's head of the department tells him of a project that may keep him on for another semester. The project is a mystery. Hesitantly, Milo accepts and finds himself with a Female black British lawyer as his chauffeur. He receives no new information until he signs the nondisclosure agreements. Dale Brunsfield, a billionaire, explorer, investor wants the historian for a mission into the only super cave in Africa. Milo's role, as a historian in the cave adventure, is to provide insight into the DeWar exposition's disappearance in 1901. Brunsfield believes DeWar's group was lost in the cave and Milo is there to document and provide historical insight to Dewar. Also included in the team, along with the chauffeur, is a television documentary team, and a medical doctor, who just happens to be Milo's former girlfriend. As entertainment this The Maw delivers. The story moves at a good pace and manages to add to the realism of a cave adventure. Milo adds history and the medical doctor adds not only medical aid but also information on disease that may still be lingering in the cave.  Needless, to say there are more complications and twists than originally expected.  The writing is well done and the story keeps the reader's attention throughout.  Well-done and entertaining. 

  2. 4 out of 5

    Dave

    What lies in the depths of the earth? Jules Verne was fascinated by a journey to the Center of the Earth. Burroughs had Perry's prospector to dig five hundred miles through the surface to find the inner world of Pellucidar. The Maw takes us on an expedition deep into the earth, where the few intrepid explorers have to survive and struggle on their own. The story seems pretty routine till they get into the cave and then the adventures begin and the book really shines as interpersonal relationship What lies in the depths of the earth? Jules Verne was fascinated by a journey to the Center of the Earth. Burroughs had Perry's prospector to dig five hundred miles through the surface to find the inner world of Pellucidar. The Maw takes us on an expedition deep into the earth, where the few intrepid explorers have to survive and struggle on their own. The story seems pretty routine till they get into the cave and then the adventures begin and the book really shines as interpersonal relationships are tested and physical endurance is tested. It somehow becomes a great survival story - with some fascinating mysteries too - that's really hard to put down. Well written, indeed. Thanks to Skyhorse Publishing for a review copy.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Julie Parks

    Kind of intriguing at first. Descriptive and live writing style, not as lyrical as I would have hoped but maybe adventure books shouldn't even be poetic or lyrical in the first place. I wasn't too keen on all the historic details and psychedelic aspects. Good adventure, though. I've read better, but I've also seen a lot worse. A great read for crazy adventure lovers who don't get too claustrophobic - there are a lot of "tight spaces" in this story. (cover design is there for a reason) Copy provide Kind of intriguing at first. Descriptive and live writing style, not as lyrical as I would have hoped but maybe adventure books shouldn't even be poetic or lyrical in the first place. I wasn't too keen on all the historic details and psychedelic aspects. Good adventure, though. I've read better, but I've also seen a lot worse. A great read for crazy adventure lovers who don't get too claustrophobic - there are a lot of "tight spaces" in this story. (cover design is there for a reason) Copy provided by NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Heather Fineisen

    The premise and the set up of a group of cavers in search of a lost expedition was interesting but the plot became too convoluted with a psychedelic turn that didn't really work with the rest of the story. Copy provided by the Publisher and NetGalley

  5. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    Why I Will Never Voluntarily Enter a Cave, exhibit B (exhibit A = Sarah Lotz's The White Road). (view spoiler)[Zajonc never quite reaches Lotz-esque heights of claustrophobia; the first or second time his vaguely stereotypical characters go through tight, "airless" passages and rappel down wet, cramped holes and swim through confined tunnels it's described to oppressive effect, but a lot of minutia of the harsh, muddy woes of caving die off as the story goes on and things get worse for our crew Why I Will Never Voluntarily Enter a Cave, exhibit B (exhibit A = Sarah Lotz's The White Road). (view spoiler)[Zajonc never quite reaches Lotz-esque heights of claustrophobia; the first or second time his vaguely stereotypical characters go through tight, "airless" passages and rappel down wet, cramped holes and swim through confined tunnels it's described to oppressive effect, but a lot of minutia of the harsh, muddy woes of caving die off as the story goes on and things get worse for our crew underground. No one has to hold their breath and duck under water without knowing if they'll ever surface again, which I appreciate. Unfortunately, there were several times when floors were falling out from underneath or people were tumbling down waterfalls yet I had no idea how they managed to get back to their starting point, so a few more of those details might have been appreciated. The story suffers from an almost Palahniuk-style overadornment of obstacles, what with the Marburg virus AND the 100 yr storm AND the creepy lying expedition leader AND more than one lost expedition AND discovering the primordial secrets of the universe and all mankind and whatever else Milo & Bridget found at the bottom of the waterfall, and while I know I'm supposed to find the ending profound, I don't quite buy how your best plan after figuring out how to, say, summon a disease-curing immune response in people by shamanic chanting would be to become a CEO of some biotech startup (hooray for capitalism, I guess) but some of the writing, like this: "It was as though he'd pulled a giant red lever that case the entire universe to wink out all at once, a Star Trek transporter beam pulling him apart cell by cell, every neuron in his brain firing independently of the whole, his mind's eye obscured within a surging gray-matter electrical storm" is capable of some lofty camp and I'd rather be afraid of being in a cave than of anything else that's going on right now. (hide spoiler)]

  6. 4 out of 5

    Edwin Howard

    A historian with a particular speciality, Milo Luttrell is recruited for a dangerous expedition into an underground cave system larger than any other in Africa in THE MAW by Taylor Zajonc. According to the information Milo has been provided, eight people (including Milo) are searching for an infamous lost explorer from the turn of the 20th century who Milo happens to be an expert on. As the cave exploration deepens and several clues are stumbled upon, it becomes clear that this mission is wrough A historian with a particular speciality, Milo Luttrell is recruited for a dangerous expedition into an underground cave system larger than any other in Africa in THE MAW by Taylor Zajonc. According to the information Milo has been provided, eight people (including Milo) are searching for an infamous lost explorer from the turn of the 20th century who Milo happens to be an expert on. As the cave exploration deepens and several clues are stumbled upon, it becomes clear that this mission is wrought with problems and false pretenses. The real question becomes, what are they really looking for and will they survive to tell the tale? Part of me is yearning to go cave exploring while the other part of me wants to never go near a cave and tell everyone I love to avoid them. That's what make a good story, it excites and scares at the same time. Zajonc has crafted a story with eight very interesting and well thought out characters and placed them in a perilous, beautiful and certainly unique setting of a giant underground cave system. I was reminded of Preston & Child books while I was reading THE MAW, where ancient discoveries and true intentions are slowly doled out and the truths that are revealed are layered, surprising, and yet completely believable within the context of the book. I really had a fun time reading THE MAW and I'll just leave this one last thought: the ending is monumental and profound and I didn't see it coming at all. Thank you to Skyhorse Publishing, Taylor Zajonc, and Netgalley for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Joyce

    4 stars I read the Kindle edition. Milo Luttrell is an adjunct professor of history at Georgetown University in Washington, DC. His university is given a huge donation with the proviso that Milo go to a so far unknown location on an expedition. Milo’s boss tells him that he has no choice for he hasn’t published anything for quite a while. In the “publish or perish” world of university politics, this is a serious lapse. When he finally arrives at the site, Milo learns that Dale Brunsfield in charge 4 stars I read the Kindle edition. Milo Luttrell is an adjunct professor of history at Georgetown University in Washington, DC. His university is given a huge donation with the proviso that Milo go to a so far unknown location on an expedition. Milo’s boss tells him that he has no choice for he hasn’t published anything for quite a while. In the “publish or perish” world of university politics, this is a serious lapse. When he finally arrives at the site, Milo learns that Dale Brunsfield in charge of the site. He is both a rich guy and an enthusiastic hunter of fortunes. He is on the trail of the lost DeWar expedition of 1901. DeWar’s expedition is the reason Milo has fallen from grace with his colleagues. He put forth a theory that was later disproven and Milo’s reputation suffered greatly from this. The location of the hunt is in Tanzania where the largest prehistoric cave in Africa is located. Apparently all that is really known about the lost expedition is that Lord Riley DeWar and twenty-two others disappeared after leaving Dar-es-Salaam, never leaving another trace of their existence. Brunsfield hopes to find the remains of the expedition in the cave. Odd things are already happening at the camp. Milo finds that his backpack has been gone through and some things, such as his cell phone, are missing. As the group, including a reality television film crew enters the cave, Milo and the others are awestruck. There are cave paintings, animal bones and other wonders to behold. When Dr. Bridget suspects that the Marburg virus is present in the cave, the group runs headlong back to near the entrance. An argument takes place about the truth of whether Marburg is present or not. They enter in another place and witness more spectacular sights. Milo finds an item that was from an earlier expedition. He also sees on the wall a carving from Lord Riley. He was really there! During another cave crawl, disaster strikes. Rushing to safety is the only thing on the team’s mind now. One tragedy after another befalls the group. They continue to explore the cave until they can go no further. The things they see and feel are horrific and wondrous. Milo and Bridget locate Sir Riley DeWar. And they discover what happened to him. This is an adventure story. It is dramatic and action-packed. The writing is fairly good, but the plotting tends to skip here and there. I would call this speculative fiction. A “what if” story. It is good reading, if you like this sort of novel. I like going on these flights of fancy once in a while and I like action. So, all in all, it was a pretty good read. I went to Amazon to look for others of Taylor Zajonc’s novels as I do believe I will try another of his books. I enjoyed this one. I want to thank NetGalley and Skyhorse Publishing for forwarding to me a copy of this good book to read and enjoy.

  8. 3 out of 5

    Zulfiya

    I used to like reading adventure novels when I was a teen and a tween, and not so much as an adult. Some spark was lost for me, the novelty disappeared, the appeal was not there - a "you-name-it" reason. I saw this book on the new fiction shelf in my library, and I ended up checking it out and reading it. The main pull was the title ( it promised intense narrative) and the cover. Well, many of us are suckers for good cover. Shame on us, I guess. The book did not disappoint in the sense that it i I used to like reading adventure novels when I was a teen and a tween, and not so much as an adult. Some spark was lost for me, the novelty disappeared, the appeal was not there - a "you-name-it" reason. I saw this book on the new fiction shelf in my library, and I ended up checking it out and reading it. The main pull was the title ( it promised intense narrative) and the cover. Well, many of us are suckers for good cover. Shame on us, I guess. The book did not disappoint in the sense that it is a typical adventure book. I also think that the title and the book cover give book too much credit. It promises so much, and it delivers only half. The claustrophobic feeling is somewhat there in the book, but I did not feel walls moving on me. The characters were so -so. I can not say that they were too formulaic, but there was never true depth in them. The novel moved with good pace, but it was never a roller-coaster. Plus, there was a little bit of too many "ANDS". Let me explain what I mean - the expedition is in Africa and it is in one of the deepest caves and there was mystery associated with the lost expedition and it turned out that it is not the only expedition that was lost and there were dead bodies of animals and their excreta and it might be the natural reservoir for Marburg virus and the silly explanation of what Marburg virus is ( it could have been simplified saying that the Ebola virus and the Marburg virus are related, but oh, no, then the excitement is lost) and then the enhanced memory and the psychedelic experiences and the new language to cope with the pace of comprehension and the death of expedition members and starvation and misery and infection and etc etc etc. I understand that it is an adventure novel, but one can only suspend the disbelief only for a certain amount of time or for a certain scope of improbabilities. The writing was not too low brow, but a couple of times the author annoyingly told me that was going on instead of showing it. Of course, I am uber sensitive to religious allusions because I am so anti religious. I do not know how religious metaphors were appropriate when the author often mentions how long ago certain evolutionary things happened and then alludes to the Bible and wishes characters godspeed. This one was quite annoying. Can authors do it subtly if they are also trying to reach the audience of spiritual readers? Overall, it was better than I expected and did not annoy me too much. I am sure it is not exactly a fair criterion, but I think this is what I honestly feel.

  9. 3 out of 5

    Lori L (She Treads Softly)

    The Maw by Taylor Zajonc is a highly recommended action/adventure story set in a supercave in Tanzania. Milo Luttrell is a historian who is mysteriously invited to Tanzania under the pretense of a project that may help him keep his job. When he arrives he discovers he has been invited by Dale Brunsfield, a billionaire explorer, to join an expedition that will be exploring a new supercave. Milo has been invited because of his research into the life of famed explorer Lord Riley DeWar. Dale believes The Maw by Taylor Zajonc is a highly recommended action/adventure story set in a supercave in Tanzania. Milo Luttrell is a historian who is mysteriously invited to Tanzania under the pretense of a project that may help him keep his job. When he arrives he discovers he has been invited by Dale Brunsfield, a billionaire explorer, to join an expedition that will be exploring a new supercave. Milo has been invited because of his research into the life of famed explorer Lord Riley DeWar. Dale believes that DeWar's last, lost expedition may have been to this cave and he needs Milo along for his expertise. Milo, who has no spelunking experience, is joining the team of seven that just happens to include his ex-girlfriend and a reality TV show star. This is a thrilling adventure story that is full of intrigue and suspense. There are enough complications and emergencies in the narrative to leave you expecting a unanticipated catastrophe around even corner. The descriptive passages make you even more cognizant of the unknown discovers awaiting along with the danger as the situation deteriorates for the expedition. Zajonc keeps the pace quick, moving the plot along, as the challenges mount. The Maw will hold your attention throughout. Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Skyhorse Publishing.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    Nothing is scarier to me than the idea of being trapped in a cave. Spelunking and caving are activities that are not for me. Miles under ground squirming through tight passages, no thank you. The news recently is all about those poor boys in Thailand who went exploring and ended up trapped in a flooded out cave system. I guess I have caves on my mind because when I heard about this book I immediately ordered it from my library. It was most definitely a fast, suspenseful read because I finished i Nothing is scarier to me than the idea of being trapped in a cave. Spelunking and caving are activities that are not for me. Miles under ground squirming through tight passages, no thank you. The news recently is all about those poor boys in Thailand who went exploring and ended up trapped in a flooded out cave system. I guess I have caves on my mind because when I heard about this book I immediately ordered it from my library. It was most definitely a fast, suspenseful read because I finished it in one day. I have to admit that I was kind of hoping there was some kind of monstrous creature in the cave (there is not) but it really didn't need anything supernatural to add to the terror of the cave itself. This is real life horror and it doesn't need any embellishments. Read it and be thankful for sun and fresh air.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Wendy Wagner

    There's nothing special about the prose or the character development, but the setting of this book is AMAZEBALLS. I 80% want this cave to be a real place, while 20% really hopes there's nothing remotely like it on the planet. Given the locale, you will be unsurprised to know I spent half the book cringing in claustrophobic suspense. The ending is pure Indian Jones-level nonsense, but don't let that stop you!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Marie

    Oh, man. What a wild ride full of mystery, adventure and betrayal. Milo is a history professor at Georgetown University. He is told to go to Tanzania but hasn't a clue why. Georgetown University was given a large donation so he has no choice. Once he gets there, he learns that some research on a missing expedition that almost cost him his career is very important to someone leading a mission to find the first explorers. There's a super cave where they believe this expedition disappeared in 1901. Oh, man. What a wild ride full of mystery, adventure and betrayal. Milo is a history professor at Georgetown University. He is told to go to Tanzania but hasn't a clue why. Georgetown University was given a large donation so he has no choice. Once he gets there, he learns that some research on a missing expedition that almost cost him his career is very important to someone leading a mission to find the first explorers. There's a super cave where they believe this expedition disappeared in 1901. The expedition that Milo is on has plenty of professionals, including an old love of his. So many things found, so much history seen. When you're going down 1500 feet and have never even been repelling like Milo, you wonder why you came. Everything starts out fine, then hell breaks loose a little at a time. Will anyone survive, will they find what they're looking for? This book is well written and told in great detail. I absolutely loved this book. I received this book from Net Galley for an honest review and no compensation.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Christina

    I've said this before, you know it's a good book when you find yourself thinking about it long after you've stopped reading it. I stayed up way too late to read this, and woke up the next morning wondering what was going to happen next. Can't get higher praise than that! The descriptions of the expedition were so interesting, without going into tedious explanations of the gear needed or techniques for caving. I always love when an author is able to turn the setting into another character, and Za I've said this before, you know it's a good book when you find yourself thinking about it long after you've stopped reading it. I stayed up way too late to read this, and woke up the next morning wondering what was going to happen next. Can't get higher praise than that! The descriptions of the expedition were so interesting, without going into tedious explanations of the gear needed or techniques for caving. I always love when an author is able to turn the setting into another character, and Zajonc didn't disappoint. The cave is a living, breathing entity that comes to dominate the characters lives and the story. There was a great balance between suspense and horror here. Not a ton of character development, but Milo was fun to read about. Definitely would recommend this as an adventure novel to anyone! An interesting, fun read!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Susan Dennison

    Awesome! Loved it.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Carrie

    Taylor Zajonc takes us on a white-knuckle underground adventure in The Maw. This book is a modern-day Jules Verne tale with a mind-bending twist, set in the lush savannas of east Africa. The Maw centers around Milo Luttrel, a historian whose frayed career is hanging by its last thread. Milo gets a mysterious summons to join a caving expedition in Africa and when he arrives, discovers that he has the chance to finally figure out what happened to Lord Riley DeWar, the man who nearly tanked Milo’s Taylor Zajonc takes us on a white-knuckle underground adventure in The Maw. This book is a modern-day Jules Verne tale with a mind-bending twist, set in the lush savannas of east Africa. The Maw centers around Milo Luttrel, a historian whose frayed career is hanging by its last thread. Milo gets a mysterious summons to join a caving expedition in Africa and when he arrives, discovers that he has the chance to finally figure out what happened to Lord Riley DeWar, the man who nearly tanked Milo’s career. The expedition is led by an eccentric billionaire along with a team of expert cavers and a medical doctor…who happens to be Milo’s ex-girlfriend. The team descends into the world’s largest underground caving system and at first, everyone is in awe at the beauty and sheer scale of their finding. But, when a massive storm hits above, it wipes out all of their supplies and leaves them stranded deep underground with no communication to the outside. As Milo and the others try to figure a way out, they make an entirely new discovery, one that may very well change mankind forever. This story is fun, fast-paced and full of cool caving lore. Pick this one up for your next vacation or beach read!

  16. 3 out of 5

    J.D. Dehart

    When I saw this book was being marketed as a "if you like Michael Crichton" thriller, I was in. I do indeed enjoy Crichton and have missed his work. The Maw begins with character service as author Taylor Zajonc casts a clear image of his setting and helps us get to know the people who are about the encounter traumas and troubles. Problems build and suspense falls into place, all hurtling toward the final thrills of the books. It's an enjoyable ride, full of thrilling moments, and peppered with Cr When I saw this book was being marketed as a "if you like Michael Crichton" thriller, I was in. I do indeed enjoy Crichton and have missed his work. The Maw begins with character service as author Taylor Zajonc casts a clear image of his setting and helps us get to know the people who are about the encounter traumas and troubles. Problems build and suspense falls into place, all hurtling toward the final thrills of the books. It's an enjoyable ride, full of thrilling moments, and peppered with Crichtonesque scientific jargon, this time largely focused on the art of cavediving. I enjoyed this book a great deal and will be curious to see what is next for this author. The book will be released in the U.S. on June 5, 2018.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Reads & Reels

    Hmmm, whenever I read “For fans of…” or “If you like … then you will love this”, I’m always a little skeptical. Those are some big words! Especially when you are targeting Michael Crichton fans like myself. For me, his books are epic adventures and I’m constantly missing new releases (Ghost writing doesn’t count). But, I do love this genre so when I saw “The Maw” I decided to give it a chance. Well, I’m really glad I gave it a chance because though it’s no “Crichton”, I really enjoyed it! This au Hmmm, whenever I read “For fans of…” or “If you like … then you will love this”, I’m always a little skeptical. Those are some big words! Especially when you are targeting Michael Crichton fans like myself. For me, his books are epic adventures and I’m constantly missing new releases (Ghost writing doesn’t count). But, I do love this genre so when I saw “The Maw” I decided to give it a chance. Well, I’m really glad I gave it a chance because though it’s no “Crichton”, I really enjoyed it! This author knows how to get your blood pumping. It’s well-written, action-packed, and ultimately, just a ton of fun! I’m not going to write a huge review for this book because frankly it doesn’t need it. If you do enjoy Clive Cussler novels and/or Michael Crichton, I think you will appreciate Zajonc’s story. Right now, the best praise I can give it is that during this last week while my family was going through some very tragic life stuff, “The Maw” kept me good and distracted. It was that good! Rating.. A *Thank you to Netgalley and Taylor Zajonc for providing me with an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

  18. 3 out of 5

    Jeremy

    I love adventure stories and the synopsis of this book sounded like it was right up my alley. Unfortunately, the story itself was quite a letdown for me. Here's why: ***Very Minor SPOILERS Below*** (view spoiler)[ -Too much time in the opening chapters discussing cave prep and what they are bringing/wearing, and the info plays no role in the plot at any point. I don't care what specific layers of clothes they wear and I don't care that one character wears contacts and has to be told to go get his I love adventure stories and the synopsis of this book sounded like it was right up my alley. Unfortunately, the story itself was quite a letdown for me. Here's why: ***Very Minor SPOILERS Below*** (view spoiler)[ -Too much time in the opening chapters discussing cave prep and what they are bringing/wearing, and the info plays no role in the plot at any point. I don't care what specific layers of clothes they wear and I don't care that one character wears contacts and has to be told to go get his glasses now, not later, because that's how things get forgotten. This chapter felt like the author was trying too hard to show off his cave exploring knowledge. I thought maybe the glasses would be important to the plot later in the story but no, they are never mentioned again. And that character who wears the contacts experience dust in his eyes, falls off of things and swims underwater with his eyes open and he never loses a contact or has any vision problems. -When the youtube star does his surprise base jump I almost quit the book. There is no way a billionaire would staff his expedition with such morons. -Story is all over the place and doesn't know what it wants to be. I was expecting exploration adventures with some kind of mystery built in, maybe like Michael Crichton's Congo set in a cave. What I got instead was the impression that the author didn't know which way he wanted the story to go once they got in the cave and he just threw the kitchen sink at it. -Writing style is an excitement killer. Chapters end on a cliffhanger and the next chapter will pick up and everything is fine. For example, character A slips while clinging to a wall and fall off the rock face. End of chapter. Next chapter, character A is sitting at the bottom of the rock face a few hours later thinking about what a close call he had. This writing style really annoyed me. -Speaking of writing style: Many many times the author would write things that didn't make sense. A character loses her cool and smashes her headlamp against the rocks until it breaks. Then at the end of that chapter the other characters leave her there in the glow of her headlamp. The same one that had been destroyed a page or two earlier. Oh and one bit of writing that jumped out at me: the author actually uses the term "wet dust." I don't know what that is and I don't think such a thing can exist since dust, by nature, is dry. -There is a very poor sense of location in this book. Several times characters have caves behind them blocked with no way to backtrack but somehow they do without any explanation given. At one point they are swept over a waterfall and when they go back to the camp there is no explanation of how they get up the falls. This was possibly the most annoying thing about the story and it really killed any tension the story was trying to build. -The is a psychedelic section of the story that is a bit too much and wasn't that enjoyable to read. -The ending is the most convenient things ever and the epilogue is so bad I felt angry at the author for ending things the way he did. As an analogy, what if your were given the powers of superman and decided to open a moving company because your super strength would make it quick easy work? But you didn't fight crime or do anything else like that? Well that how the ending of this story made me feel- tons of squandered potential. (hide spoiler)] And that sums up the story pretty good overall: Tons of squandered potential. Rather than focus on character building and adventures and mysteries, the author went in too many direction and the result was not very satisfying as a reader. Sadly, not recommended.

  19. 3 out of 5

    Jeff

    If you look at my reviews, you can see that my favorite book of 2018 is 'The Anomaly' by Michael Rutger. I won't describe the details of that book, because this is about 'The Maw.' The only reason why I mention it is because it's about an expedition to find something and both teams get stuck in caves. When I read the summary for this book, I knew that I had to have it and couldn't wait to get started. I was even halfway done with one of Jonathan Maberry's book and I still switched. I wouldn't sa If you look at my reviews, you can see that my favorite book of 2018 is 'The Anomaly' by Michael Rutger. I won't describe the details of that book, because this is about 'The Maw.' The only reason why I mention it is because it's about an expedition to find something and both teams get stuck in caves. When I read the summary for this book, I knew that I had to have it and couldn't wait to get started. I was even halfway done with one of Jonathan Maberry's book and I still switched. I wouldn't say that this book was a TOTAL letdown...just a minor letdown. SUMMARY: Milo, a professor at Georgetown University, is invited on a caving expedition funded by a very rich man named Dale. Milo's role in this is having staked his career on the mysterious disappearance of Lord Riley De'War (spelling may not be accurate). It made and ruined his career at the same time. When he is flown mysteriously to Africa and taken to meet Dale, it's revealed that Dale has discovered De'War's map to the super cave they are going into, instead of the most common theory that his team tried to climb one of the unclimbable mountains of the early 20th century. As they descend, everything is going find and they explore different areas, with a team up at the top lowering down supplies. They discover a large cavern, filled with water that has a mysterious golden light far beneath the surface that no one can explain. After this, an incredibly horrific rainfall hits the surface and the camp is destroyed, one of the members of the team is missing, and much of their supplies gone. After this everyone starts exhibiting strange abilities, photographic memory being one of them. As the supplies dwindle and the team exhibits more and more strange phenomena, Milo and Bridgette, the medical doctor and former girlfriend of Milo, wonder if they'll ever make it out alive. REVIEW: I'll be quick about the review process this time, since I've already written a ton of summary. I found the first chunk of this book (before the rainstorm) to be incredibly boring and I was just waiting for that storm to make things go haywire. Then, when the storm hits, nothing seems to be communicated as desperate besides a few things here and there. Plus, nothing that crazy happens to the team besides the photographic memory and a few other things. I guess I mentioned 'The Anomaly' because that book had SO much going on once they entered the cave part of their expedition, where the team from this book didn't. Maybe I'm being too harsh, but I found the book to be a tad boring. RATING: I'm going to give the novel a B-, which is a much better grade than a 2 star book normally gets. There are moments of interest, but they are few and far between. I think there are some people who may LOVE this book, but I'm just not one of them; however, I want to be fair and give it a grade that it deserves. Zajonc is an incredible writer, so the skill is there; he just needs a better story to go on.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jack Rochester

    I really wanted to like this book. I love a good adventure story and to have one set in a cavern? Wow, that awakened memories of my teenage years in the Black Hills of South Dakota. I spent a summer as a tour guide at the Sitting Bull Crystal Caverns and spelunked with like-minded guys in a number of caves both commercial and unknown to the general public. (Oh, the caves I saw....) And I've been ghostwriting a book with both adventure and a cave full of treasure. What more reason not to pick up I really wanted to like this book. I love a good adventure story and to have one set in a cavern? Wow, that awakened memories of my teenage years in the Black Hills of South Dakota. I spent a summer as a tour guide at the Sitting Bull Crystal Caverns and spelunked with like-minded guys in a number of caves both commercial and unknown to the general public. (Oh, the caves I saw....) And I've been ghostwriting a book with both adventure and a cave full of treasure. What more reason not to pick up this interesting work by an author who sounded like he was up to the task? Didn't quite work out that way. The premise is good: a supercave, a lost expedition, a spelunk full of risks and dangers of all sorts, but sadly perforated with plot holes and, it seems, a lack of imaginative vision. In other words, it starts to feel like the author didn't know what he was writing about. Not that the story itself and the stuff the characters went through wasn't plausible, but the narrative didn't consistently cohere into believability. I really struggled with trying understand what was happening, and struggled even more with thinking it was me, not the author, but in the final analysis had to conclude that Douglas Preston he ain't. This is another book reviewing instance where I have to wonder about the other reviewers. How can there be five-star raves next to one- and two-star thumbs-down write-ups right beside them? How can one person see delightful coherence where another sees utter chaos? Can one mind simply skip over stuff that's mushy and incoherent and still think it's a great read? One reviewer mentioned comparison and contrast with Jules Verne's "Journey to the Center of the Earth," hands-down one of the best adventure novels ever written. I found myself turning the last page and lamenting the story this could have been.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jud Hanson

    Milo Lutrell is a historian that has been shunned by the academic community for his theories concerning explorer Lord Riley Dewar. His life changes one day when he is presented with a unique opportunity: to join an expedition to Tanzania and possibly solve the disappearance of Dewar. The cave is unbelievable in its breadth and the group will be entirely on their own once they leave the surface. Their fate becomes uncertain, however, when a storm and an epidemic of cholera hits those that have re Milo Lutrell is a historian that has been shunned by the academic community for his theories concerning explorer Lord Riley Dewar. His life changes one day when he is presented with a unique opportunity: to join an expedition to Tanzania and possibly solve the disappearance of Dewar. The cave is unbelievable in its breadth and the group will be entirely on their own once they leave the surface. Their fate becomes uncertain, however, when a storm and an epidemic of cholera hits those that have remained up top and Lutrell’s group is completely cut-off, without a way out. The group began a fight for survival as supplies run low and it will take everything they have to get out alive. The Maw by Taylor Zajonc is a book that fans of Cussler are bound to enjoy. Caves have fascinated people for hundreds of years and many are still not fully explored. Zajonc has written a story that kept my interest throughout. While I have not yet read any of Zajonc’s Wrecking Crew series, I certainly plan to add them to my to-be-read pile. Zajonc shows promise as an author, which is why I believe The Maw deserves 4/5 stars. *A e-book copy of this book was the only consideration received in exchange for this review.*

  22. 3 out of 5

    Jen

    I used to like Michael Crichton's early work so I figured that this would be up my alley, but I was pretty disappointed in it. It reads more like a screenplay than a novel- no doubt it's already been optioned for a movie. Each of the characters are "types" rather than interesting individuals, and while I did enjoy the caving parts, overall I was just waiting for it to be over.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Heather

    Caving Expedition Descends into Madness Fun read about a caving expedition gone wrong. The ending is odd and not where I thought it was going. The author is a visual story teller and I enjoyed all the descriptions of the cave and disasters that befell the team.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Richard Bohn

    Not sure what made me read this one - I get creeped out just thinking about caves. I read a review in my Saturday WSJ a week or so ago, something about it just jumped out at me. I just finished and I can say it was a nice surprise! A totally imaginative work of art and a great read!

  25. 4 out of 5

    SA Schlueter

    A thoroughly immersive adventure and primordial journey seeking a subterranean passage through earth, history, and the human psyche. I received an Advance Reader Copy from NetGalley and Skyhorse Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Edward

    Decent read, kept me engaged, and the story got better as it went along. Don't want to drop any spoilers, but the ending kinda dropped off.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Cuykendall

    A great book until the end...there’s enough drama in being stranded in a cave without throwing in some psychedelic twist that was eye-rolling to me. Should have stuck with the real life elements.

  28. 3 out of 5

    Sarah

    Claustrophobic, but an enjoyable read nonetheless.

  29. 5 out of 5

    James Sayre

  30. 5 out of 5

    Witold Ostrenko

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