Saturday, December 14, 2013

Altar of Eden, James Rollins


I'm a fan of Rollins, particularly his Sigma series, but I've gotten a little...bored with Sigma. I still like it and I'll keep reading it, but the past few books have just been a bit...melodramatic? Unbelievable? No, I don't like unbelievable. All the stories are fairly fantastical. I can't really put my finger on it. Melodramatic is probably the closest.

Anyway, the point is, this was like old school Rollins. The characters are interesting but they don't take over. There's a good balance between the story and the actors in it.

Though, I could totally see Sigma wanting to snap these two up. Maybe if they did, we'd see them again. We could take some focus of Gray and the books would start moving again....

Anyway, so, here we have Jack and Lorna. Jack is a border patrol agent, and Lorna is a veterinarian.

Sounds kind of mundane, huh?

Well, Jack finds a ship full of strange animals and calls in Lorna. They grew up together, she and his younger brother were high school sweethearts. Over the course of the book, we find out that the brother died and Lorna was blamed, but Jack was party to the car accident that killed his brother too. See, Lorna was being attacked while the brother was passed out, Jack busted in and saved her. Without understanding the whole situation, he told her to drive. She crashed and the brother died.

They've kept the secret of what really happened all these years. Stupidly.

While the interactions between Jack and Lorna are great, what I like best is the actual progression of the adventure.

One of my favorite things about Rollins is the way his stories take facts and combines and twist them to make such interesting adventures.

This is all about genetic manipulation. The animals they find are enhanced in such a way that being together increases their brain function, making them smarter than your average animals. So, investigating this leads to an island. On the island are humanoid people who are similarly networked together. Along with some animals.

The idea is to create super soldiers. Of course. Why else do people do these things? *eye roll*

Only, it goes terribly wrong, as these things do.

They end up torturing/experimenting on their subjects to the point of a violent psychotic break. Added to that, they kidnap the children and keep them separated, physically and psychically. I think most parents would be fairly pissed. The idea is that by isolating them they're keeping the animal element away and therefore keeping them "pure" and non-violent.

Yeah, they don't get the idea that they caused the violence. If you haven't noticed.

All's well that ends well. Lorna and Jack escape the island with the children. The adult experiments choose to take out the bad guys and stay on the island. Which is exploding.

I'd love to see a follow up book. The children age quickly. The age of maturity is like 10. Ok, that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but just a bit. Jack and Lorna keep the kids a secret, but how long can they keep it that way? I'd like to see a sequel that takes place in 20 years or so. It would be a couple generations of the kids, I think. I'm not entirely clear if their lifespans are short, or they just mature quickly. Jack and Lorna would have been married for about that long. Maybe have kids of their own. Older kids, even. What if someone found out or knew about the kids? Maybe someone involved in the experiments wasn't on the island. Or a descendant? Relative? I don't know.

Basically, I just want to know what happens next - the mark of a good story.

Altar of Eden, James Rollins

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