Andres's Reviews > 12.21

12.21 by Dustin Thomason
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Jul 08, 2012

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bookshelves: arcs, fiction
Read from July 08 to 12, 2012

** spoiler alert ** I swore I would never read anything (fiction or non-fiction) about the supposed end of the world due to the end of the Mayan calendar. I’ve read 'real' books about the Maya culture and can’t even begin to entertain any half-baked notions. Just…c’mon people.

So why exactly did I read this particular novel? Because it was written by one-half of the team that wrote the really enjoyable “The Rule of Four”. That was enough for me to give the advanced reader a try when it landed on my desk.

It includes all the things that I find fun and interesting: Maya culture and especially Maya glyphs, medical intrigue (here, specifically about prions), archaeoastronomy, and even local familiar locations (the Getty Center, Venice Beach, Griffith Observatory, and many more).

And I really enjoyed the book for the first 2/3rds. That last third though…

Usually with these kinds of books (techno-thrillers, I guess?) there’s sometimes a few (or many) instances of credulity stretching incidents, whether it’s a gaping plot hole or illogical actions taken by some character or iffy science or… something, something that depending on its degree you can easily gloss over or make your eyes roll or even make you put down the book.

None of that happens here though, at least for more than half the book. Everything rolled along believably, delving into the science of the prions, the culture of the Mayas and even the city-wide quarantine stuff. There was even one character I was really rooting for, and it was when that character died suddenly that I felt the book took a turn for the strange. The death didn’t feel ‘earned’ or ‘necessary’—it just kind of happened, and it felt more plot ordained than anything else. It needed to happen to ramp the story up, I guess, but after that the story seemed to fishtail and never really find its footing again.

The story doesn’t wrap up in the usual Hollywood wrap up way, which I’m fine with, but it felt as if there were more story to tell, like maybe there’s a sequel? Even open-ended endings have a kind of finality to them. But here, there’s a kind of world-building it taps into but then kind of leaves dangling at the end. The character stories are wrapped up for the most part, but still it felt like not everything was satisfactorily tied up.

It was a fun read but it leads to an odd ending.
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