... enthralling ... The science throughout the book is fascinating as Widder repeatedly revolutionizes her field, but there is much more than science here. Widder is also an explorer, an inventor and a captivating storyteller whose life has been uncommonly adventurous, both on land and at sea ... Widder offers a forceful critique of our current mismanagement of the oceans.
Widder’s passion is so contagious that by the end of the book, I was yearning to explore these deep, dark waters with her. (Dr. Widder, I’m available!) The wonders she has witnessed are completely compelling ... Her enthusiasm is matched by her sense of humor, which is frequently on full display in footnotes ... With Widder as their guide, readers of Below the Edge of Darkness will become staunch champions of the spectacular bioluminescent world that thrives in the ocean’s depths. It’s a display they’ll long to see, and an education they’ll never forget.
... stylish, eloquent ... The deep is our planet’s last wild place and we despoil it at our peril. To [her] credit, Widder and [has] made abundantly, yet entertainingly clear the nature of the dangers that lie ahead.
... gripping ... Widder’s voice is in turns jaunty, precise and nerdily quippy. She occasionally resorts to cliché and her jokes don’t always land. But often the prose glints ... Where Widder unfortunately falls short is in the final pages of the book, where she briefly addresses environmental threats to the ocean. She hews to the old and, increasingly, outdated maxim that alarmism will cause the public to shut down rather than perk up. Given the pending cascade of catastrophes that climate change threatens to inflict on the oceans (perhaps nowhere more so than on the deep sea, which studies show will warm faster than the surface), her cheery contention that a combination of optimism, exploration and education will solve the ocean’s problems rings hollow.
A superbly captivating writer, Widder fluently elucidates complex scientific inquiries and findings pertaining to how bioluminescence helps marine species thrive in the watery realm where 'there’s nothing to hide behind.' She also renders the ludicrous, the terrifying, and the enthralling with equal vim and vigor. As Widder dazzles readers with dramatic tales of expeditions frustrating and revelatory, describing such astonishments as seeing an 'enormous squid' that was 'completely new to science,' she calls for an effort to explore the deep seas on par with the space program, passionately and expertly arguing that it is urgently important for us to understand the oceans, which are severely imperiled and essential to our survival. 'We need to launch a new age of exploration, one that is focused on our greatest treasure, life.'
This book illustrates the careful, curious, years-long quest of a scientist in love with her work. Widder peppers her text with witty asides as footnotes that invite readers into her passion ... Highly recommended for those interested in marine and environmental studies.