Patrick Gibson's Reviews > Altar of Eden

Altar of Eden by James Rollins
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's review
Jan 06, 2010

liked it
bookshelves: testosterone
Read in January, 2010

Our favorite veterinarian follow-up writer (he followed-up numerous Cussler novels with ‘Subterranean’ and ‘Sahara;’ and followed-up Dan Brown with ‘Map of Bones’) has now chosen to ride the coattails of Crichton (it’s okay this time, since ‘Next’ wasn’t very good). At least his take on genetic engineering doesn’t include dinosaurs. Although—there is one nasty saber-tooth pussycat keeping the first act moving along. Yes, our theater-challenged author has titled his sections ‘Acts.’ In deference to Tennessee Williams I suppose. The third act takes place on a jungle island populated with genetic mutants so guess this is a follow-up to H. G. Wells.

It’s all good. Mix these ideas together and you come up with an adequate techno/SciFi/thriller starring an obligatory macho hero with a past, falling for the weak-yet-dedicated heroine doctor who shares the same past with the hero, only not realizing it until the two are locked into a perilous situation. Hey, it happens to all of us at one time or another. The villain, out of Jurassic Park, is cloning bio-weapons instead of prehistoric critters. He has deep pockets so every state-of-the-art gizmo magically appears at his finger tips and . . . here’s the best part … a secret mysterious fortified island. Oh yah. The testosterone infused hero gets the shit beat out of him numerous times, infected with a killer virus, blown up, dropped from a helicopter, attacked by alligators, burned alive in an exploding truck, and goes without sleep for at least three days. That last part is a killer … what, no sleep? You have got to be kidding. Yet he continually rebounds with no consideration to his wounds (hey, come on, he’s at least got to be a little sore) and saves the day. Over, and over again. And he has every powerful weapon known to man available at his fingertips. It’s a ‘fingertip’ situation all the way around.

I liked it. What can I say? The author writes some pretty laugh-out-loud-when-you’re-not-supposed-too dialogue and has this very annoying habit of pulling out of the story by making author comments. I would like to say to him ‘who the fuck is your editor? Get a new one – like maybe someone who will actually read your book and take the dorky shit out.’

There are a couple great scenes. Putting a group of boy scouts on a sleepover at an alligator farm with some rangy mutants in the middle of a Louisiana Bayou was an excellent set up for some gory moments. Thanks for that one. In this book, the author is at his best when explaining some complicated science or math. When he went off on Fractals it became instantly interesting. But this is a thriller, not a science class. Action of the most absurd kind must ensue. It does. And it’s fun. Kind of like an entire meal of Baskin Robbins—including a little brain freeze.
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