Past Reviews

Altar of Eden:  by James Rollins
Description:  Taken From Harper Collins
Following the fall of Baghdad, two Iraqi boys stumble upon armed men looting the city zoo. The floodgates have been opened for the smuggling of hundreds of exotic birds, mammals, and reptiles to western nations, but this crime hides a deeper secret. Amid a hail of bullets, a concealed underground weapons lab is ransacked—and something even more horrific is set free.
Seven years later, Louisiana state veterinarian Lorna Polk stumbles upon a fishing trawler shipwrecked on a barrier island. The crew is missing or dead, but the boat holds a frightening cargo: a caged group of exotic animals, clearly part of a black market smuggling ring.
    Yet, something is wrong with these beasts, disturbing deformities that make no sense: a parrot with no feathers, a pair of capuchin monkeys conjoined at the hip, a jaguar cub with the dentition of a saber-toothed tiger. They also all share one uncanny trait—a disturbingly heightened intelligence.
    To uncover the truth about the origin of this strange cargo and the terrorist threat it poses, lorna must team up with a man who shares a dark and bloody past with her and is now an agent with the U.S. Border Patrol, Jack Menard.
    Together, the two must hunt for a beast that escaped the shipwreck while uncovering a mystery tied to fractal science and genetic engineering, all to expose a horrifying secret that traces back to humankind's earliest roots.
    But can Lorna stop what is about to be born upon the altar of eden before it threatens not only the world but also the very foundation of what it means to be human?

 Altar of Eden Review by Mom Cat
5/5 As a Book - 3.5/5 Heartbeats as a Romance

This book is not a romance.  It has a bit of romance in it but it is a thriller.  But don't let that stop you from reading the review.  I think you will like it.

When I first was asked if I wanted to review this book, and was sent the synopsis, I was curious, and said yes because the heroine was a veterinarian.  When I received the author's bio, I was excited because the author graduated from the University of Missouri’s School of Veterinary Medicine where my daughter Rachael attends as a second year vet student.

It would not be a fair review to the author James Rollins, but I really could sum this book up in one word, WOW!! 
So since I can’t and won’t do that, where do I start?
 “The study of nature makes man at last as remorseless as nature.”  H. G. Wells.
This is a very powerful quote to start the book.  This automatically made me start thinking once again about the science, and the “business”, often “big business” of scientific research of any kind, be it animal or human.  There are few things that certain people won’t do for the all mighty dollar and/or power and supremacy.  This book touches on some very sensitive subjects, genetic manipulation, collective intelligence, private armies, torture, possible terrorist threats, corruption, war and of course the all mighty dollar.

But let’s talk about the writing first.  The writing is crisp.  The language used could have been daunting because of the technical aspects of the story, but wasn’t because they were explained in terms that everyone could understand without being to wordy or talking down to the audience. The action is fast paced and continuous, but was not over done.  The action kept me on the edge, and kept me reading (even after I knew I should stop because I had to be up early for the job that pays).

The science is very real and very scary, but it really made me think, it made me want to learn more about the science he uses in the book.  Rollins covers the gamut of scary science from animal to human “tinkering” with DNA to make the perfect weapon, but something goes wrong.  Is this really such a hot idea?  Scientists are trying to create a weapon that will change the course of wars.  Is this right? Rollins notes that  “... what you might not know is that such contracting  is no longer limited to the paramilitary firms--the scientific community has also been  co-opted.  Hundreds of research groups have hopped on the bandwagon.”    Rollins use of actual current events like the Iraq war and real life science make the storyline plausible.  Personally I think that it is all too probable.
 
The cast of characters is very believable.  Lorna and Jack have a past between them, but their relationship could have been developed a little more.  Their history does give them a strong bond.  There is nothing like familial drama to bring that about, but they do not spend a lot of time together.  I wanted to see these characters together sooner than the story has them.  I guess it felt like their story might have been better off as something separate from the action packed ride that Rollins provides.   The villains are nasty. Duncan was the most believable in his viciousness .  He is exactly like what I expect when I picture a paramilitary psychopath.  Malik is a typical mad scientist. But the guy I am most curious about is the money man Bennet.  I guess I want to know more about him, see him more developed.

Over all:
Buy this book.  I plan on going out and finding the rest of Rollin's books, and reading each one and enjoying each and every word he writes. Like a spoonful of sorbet after the main course, it is an excellent choice to clear your romance palate.  Even though the romance is only a 3.5, I give this one 5 out of 5 for great writing and a phenomenal thrill ride of a story.
 
Find out more about James Rollins and his writing on his website http://www.jamesrollins.com/   You can also find James Rollins on Facebook