Book Review: Whalefall by Daniel Kraus

May 9, 2024


Whalefall by Daniel Kraus tells of Jay Gardiner who has been swallowed by a sperm whale and has one hour to escape before his oxygen runs out. Mr. Kraus is a bestselling, award-winning author.

  • 336 pages
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ MTV Books
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1665918160

Book Review: Whalefall by Daniel Kraus
My rat­ing for Whalefall — 4
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The book started off very slowly and only got faster around two-thirds in. The plot made little sense, but the scientifically accurate, I believe, was very interesting.

The book moves between an intimately told father-son relationship, and a man being swallowed by a whale trying to get out. The scientific research and descriptions of the under-the-sea world are fascinating by themselves. As Jay fights to get out of the whale, he also deals with grief and lifelong daddy issues.

I felt that the parts that took place within the whale were fantastic. The science, descriptions and the science it takes to get out of a sea creature’s stomach were gripping. The parts where Jay whines about his abusive dad
 not so much.

The narrative tries to pack in a lot, not just scientifically but emotionally as well. There are family dynamics explored, guilt, illness, depression, abuse, and of course survival in more ways than one – but that’s where Whalefall by Daniel Kraus lost me.

The vivid descriptions of the ocean, inside the whale, Jay’s injuries, and time running out get lost in the family drama. Within the whale, fighting for survival Jay remembers some triviality Mitt, his father, told him years ago which helped him figure out one more step towards getting out, or surviving a few minutes more to get another chance.

While intense in parts, the book becomes somewhat formulaic. Jay whines, Mitt advises from the grave, Jay finds stuff in the whale’s stomach to help him. Nevertheless, the book shines in parts, giving a claustrophobic, cinematic feel in various sections.


Jay Gardiner is in the Pacific Ocean, off the coast of Monastery Beach, CA diving in hopes of finding the remains of his father, Mitt. Jay never got along with his father, and he hopes that finding the remains will make him feel less guilty.

All of a sudden, Jay finds himself trying to avoid a giant squid fighting a sperm whale. During the fight, Jay gets sucked into the whale and has one hour to get out.

Buy Whalefall from*
More Books by Daniel Kraus*

Zohar — Man of la Book
Dis­claimer: I bought this book.
*Ama­zon links point to an affil­i­ate account, the money is usually spent on books

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