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143 of 151 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars CAUTION for Kindle Users!!
This isn't so much a review as a word of warning to Kindle owners who download this book. When I downloaded and chose this book from my list, it opened to ACT 1, which appeared to be the beginning of the book. Unfortunately, a key part of the book is placed BEFORE the table of contents, meaning Kindle users have to KNOW it's there and page back through the table of...
Published on January 15, 2010 by Misty Lyn

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46 of 49 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fun Adventure
Altar of Eden is a fun, exciting and fast read. If you're looking to escape in a tv-movie sort-of-way, then this is a good purchase.

James Rollins writes short and to the point. His characters and plot are somewhat similar - short and to the point. And it's enjoyable. The first half of the book sets the stage for genetically altered animals escape into the...
Published on January 26, 2010 by Jason Golomb


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143 of 151 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars CAUTION for Kindle Users!!, January 15, 2010
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Altar of Eden (Kindle Edition)
This isn't so much a review as a word of warning to Kindle owners who download this book. When I downloaded and chose this book from my list, it opened to ACT 1, which appeared to be the beginning of the book. Unfortunately, a key part of the book is placed BEFORE the table of contents, meaning Kindle users have to KNOW it's there and page back through the table of contents. I only realized this after reading the teasers and seemed to be missing something. Hope this helps someone else out there!! (Oh...and I LOVED this book!)
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46 of 49 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fun Adventure, January 26, 2010
By 
Jason Golomb (Northern Virginia) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Altar of Eden (Hardcover)
Altar of Eden is a fun, exciting and fast read. If you're looking to escape in a tv-movie sort-of-way, then this is a good purchase.

James Rollins writes short and to the point. His characters and plot are somewhat similar - short and to the point. And it's enjoyable. The first half of the book sets the stage for genetically altered animals escape into the Bayou after an attempt to smuggle them into the U.S. goes awry.

Rollins writes adventure and pseudo-science well. Think Michael Crichton lite. But that's not a bad thing.

The book is full of gun fights and nasty animals attacks, plus the obligatory evil-scientist-explaining-his-nefarious-plot-to-the-protagonist. But it wraps up the story nicely.

If you're looking for something deep, then keep looking. You can stop looking, however, if you're in the market for a rock solid adventure, with mutated jaguars and super-smart hominids.
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101 of 114 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THIS is the novel I've been waiting for..., December 29, 2009
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This review is from: Altar of Eden (Hardcover)
I love James Rollins' SIGMA novels, but after a while, all series start to feel a bit old to me. Like many other readers, I've really been hoping for a return to the stand alone thrillers with which he began his career. My wish has been granted with his latest work, Altar of Eden, and it was everything I could have hoped for.

Some books can be summarized with a single, high-concept sentence. That's never the case with Rollins, though this book is structured differently and is in many ways simpler than the SIGMA novels. More on that in a moment. The novel opens in the wake of a hurricane. Research veterinarian, Dr. Lorna Polk, is collected from her workplace by a Border Patrol helicopter and ferried out into the Louisiana swamplands. She can't fathom who has requested her or why she is being brought here. The "who" turns out to be Field Operations Supervisor, Jack Menard, a painful ghost from her past. The "why" is a shipwreck. A shipwreck that looks like a nightmarish crime scene, and which holds a most extraordinary living cargo. Her first guess is that they've stumbled upon an exotic animal smuggling ring, but as Rollins writes: "Jack turned and shone his flashlight into the nearest cage. She stared inside--and knew she was wrong about everything." James Rollins is great about writing these hooky endings to his chapters. They're sort of textbook, but irresistible! I know they keep me turning the pages.

I noted the structure of this novel above. The SIGMA novels all contain multiple narrative threads and stories. They're notably complex thrillers. Altar of Eden has a single narrative thread throughout. It is the story of where this discovery takes Jack and Lorna, and it's broken into three discrete parts.

Act One encompasses the first third of the novel, and it reminded me of nothing so much as those old creature feature films from the 70's. You remember the ones? Where the mutant piranhas are heading upstream to the summer camp? That's just a nostalgic example, there are absolutely no mutant piranha in this novel (though if that's your cup of tea, definitely check out Rollins' Amazonia), but SOMETHING has escaped that shipwreck, and it's stalking the bayou. The hunt is on!

Act Two is the shortest of the three. Here, the protagonists have a chance to catch their breath--for like a minute. It's a chance for Lorna and her colleagues to strut their scientific stuff. And this is the part that I have to assume other Rollins fans like me love. Every Rollins novel features at least one element of mind-blowing science. My favorite part of this one involved magnetite crystals in the brain, but the fractals were really cool too! There are tantalizing tidbits from any number of scientific disciplines, but don't worry if you're not as geeky as me. Rollins doesn't go too deeply into anything. His explanations are brief, clear, and intriguing. (As always, he has an author's note at the end to separate fact from fiction. And as always, there's more fact than you might expect.) Unfortunately for our protagonists, the bad guys that were in the background of Act One come front and center in Act Two.

Act Three is the lengthiest of all. It's the endgame. Dr. Polk discovers that what she found in the Mississippi Delta was just the tip of the iceberg. I have to admit that I had a few small quibbles with the end of this novel that I can't discuss without massive spoilers. Nonetheless, those quibbles did not take away from my total enjoyment of this excellent page-turner. I read much of it on an airplane and it kept me compelled for 3,000 miles.

Amusingly, I listened to a large section of this novel on my Kindle while wandering the National Zoo. There are a lot of animals in this novel, so I could read about alligators and monkeys while visiting alligators and monkeys! (Yes, I really AM a huge geek.) I've heard former-vet Rollins discuss why he's never written about a veterinarian before. "Not enough people die," he always says. Well, he finally found a way to make it work. I'm looking forward to more stand alone adventures!
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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars James WOW's me yet again with his limitless imagination!, December 29, 2009
This review is from: Altar of Eden (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I've seen the teasers for Alter of Eden here at amazon for quite some time before it became available, and suddenly, out of the blue, the amazon vine program offered me (for the first time) a copy of a Rollins book before it was released. Being the slow reader that I am, I didn't finish it until it actually came out, but I had a good head-start, which I am very grateful for. Being a James Rollins fan now sure makes waiting for the NEXT novel sometimes difficult, but 2009 has been quite a busy year for him. By my count, he's given us 'The Doomsday Key', the first 'Jake Ransom' and now 'Alter of Eden' in an 11th hour final pitch. Fine with me. All things considered, I'd rather wait for a great novel than be semi-satisfied by churning out one sub-par novel after another like some factory (James Patterson, are you listening?!?).

While Mr. Rollins produced more than usual this year, I simply cannot see where we the readers had to suffer one iota as a result. Writers rarely get a chance at a year like this (well, not the GOOD ones anyway) very often, so its nice to see how it all works out in the end for an author who deserves the attention and stepped up to the plate and brought three runs in without breakin' a sweat.

One thing Rollins fans can expect is a healthy dose of science in his books...and that is on full display here. One thing he has been adding to his last group of novels at the end is a sort of explanation of the realities of what we have just finished reading...truth or fiction? On more than one occasion I was a bit surprised to discover just how REAL the science actually IS in his books. Fascinating and more than a bit scary at the same time. I enjoyed how we finally get to see an adventure featuring a career that Mr. Rollins knows well: a Veterinarian.

Action, twists and a fair share of surprises certainly place AoE definitely ahead of the vast majority of action/adventure thrillers available and easily one of Mr. Rollins' best stand-alone books to date. Without adding any spoilers (which I HATE) let me say this: if genetic manipulation doesn't frighten you, then read this book and maybe it will (it really should). As with ALL of his earlier stuff (all of which are awesome), expect a roller coaster ride traveling to exotic places and introducing us to a lot we probably never heard before. I believe one of the major talents that James Rollins has is the ability to 'dumb down' the science so almost anyone can grasp the significance of what you're reading and why its so terrifying. Michael Crichton managed to pull it off in many of his books, but failed in a few as well...from my perspective Rollins does it much better.

Once again it is my supreme fortune to be able to HIGHLY endorse another thriller from Mr. Rollins. I do so gladly here yet again. If you couldn't tell, I really, REALLY love his stuff. Kudos yet again, and here's to an even better 2010!
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Super Read!, January 6, 2010
This review is from: Altar of Eden (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I truly enjoyed this book on a cold, snowy afternoon. Mr. Rollins is one of the few remaining authors of this genre that is producing quality over quantity. He has not disapoointed from his first book to this one.
This book has an interesting, but fact based premise. Some parts are vaquely reminiscent of Jurassic Park, but all in all it is a rip roaring good read set in one of my favorite parts of the world! You can't go wrong with this book!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An entertaining read, but with some flaws., May 2, 2010
This review is from: Altar of Eden (Hardcover)
I started reading this novel and thought; "Hey, I just saw this story on the sci-fi channel, only it was a giant mutant snake, or maybe alligator"? Then I got to the next section of the novel and thought, "man, I just saw this on "24". My point is that if you are looking for something original, there's not much here. The dialogue in the beginning of this book is just terrible. It is so cliche ridden and melodramatic that at points it is laughable. The two main characters Jack and Lorna are okay, but much like when you see a bad movie with great actors in it, they just aren't given much to work with here.

What moves this book from a two star up to a three star rating for me is all the action. I might not appreciate this author's character development or talent with dialogue, but he can really write those action scenes! I felt that this book really redeemed itself at the end when it veered away from the overly dramatic character back stories and many of the other overdone characterizations and concentrated on the action of the story. After the first section of the book, the author does a brilliant job of pacing and creating a tense environment for a really exciting finish.

So, I didn't feel that there was much new here, but this was a fun read. I didn't find the characters to be all that engaging or believable until the end when the author tied everything up nicely. The scientific and ethical issues examined in this book have all been looked at before and the author does a fair job with them here as well. Just nothing new that really wowed me. Still an entertaining read and a fair way to spend a rainy Saturday afternoon.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars 400 Page Comic Book, April 14, 2010
This review is from: Altar of Eden (Hardcover)
I have enjoyed a few of Rollin's earlier stories but "Altar Of Eden" is definitely not one of them. It's called a thriller but I found it to be more of a comedy that makes no sense if you think about it. SPOILERS> SPOILERS> SPOILERS> First we have the hunt for the mutant tiger (panther, whatever) which consumes 25% of the entire story and that was silly enuf. Needless to say is that the mutant tiger ends up at an alligtor farm of all places and has started to fire which is burning the place down. Then the neo-DNA security gang also decends upon the place too and it reads like some gee-whiz comic book. That was laughable enuf, but then our hero steals out to Dr. Moreau's magic island, just a short jaunt from the FL Keys, where this Iraqi geneticist is isolating all kinds of archaic DNA to amuse himself. Not only do we have the mutant tigers but we have mutant dogs and wolves and foxes and parrots and monkeys and at center stage a group of adult Homo Habilis or Austrolopithecus and they do mate and have plenty of offspring. Ok. Now just when you might think the BS can't possibly get any deeperor weirder--we have cross species telepathy with this archaic DNA gang--they communicate with each other with a "hive mentality" and they all get along great on this isle of Eden. If you really think about the plausability of all this...you would put the book down and laugh. The other option is just to read and not think. Then again, some people seem to like it just fine.

Don't get me wrong I think Rollins can tell a good story but this one is trying too hard to be a great thriller and in hindsight its a comedy.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Rollins Got Lazy, July 18, 2011
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This review is from: Altar of Eden (Hardcover)
I've been a big fan of his past work, most of which I found thought provoking in the midst of the high action and adventure. This book, however, was a farce. I picked it up purely on name recognition, naturally thinking it was a continuation of the Sigma Team story, and soon found myself following the adventure of some instantly forgettable characters. The premise of the story was decent and the science behind the whole thing was interesting, totally getting my brain firing on the "What if's?" of science and corporate greed. However, the most essential part of the story . . . the characters . . . were so trite, and cliched, and by the time I got 20 pages in I realized that this whole attempt of storytelling was fascicle. James. Buddy. Stop watching Hollywood crafted spy/action-adventure movies and concentrate on the development of a rich story. Map of Bones, Sandstorm, Ice Hunt(?) . . . all brilliantly told, exciting to read, and thrilling to feel. Alter of Eden? Predictable, campy, and unimaginative. Overall feels like Rollins packed this one in and was looking for a quick payday.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars good action thriller with a science theme, January 5, 2010
This review is from: Altar of Eden (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is my first James Rollins book and I enjoyed it. I liked the scientific infrastructure, from a research veterinarian protagonist to evildoers toying with genetics. Lorna is a researcher at a facility concerned with endangered species. When a boatload of altered creatures is shipwrecked nearby, she's involved in their care and becomes a target for mercenaries trying to hide illegal (and creepy) experimentation on a small island offshore.

The milieu is Cajun country, with a possible romance and a scandal in the hero's history with Lorna. He's a Border Patrol agent who is tough but more sensitive than the brutes and lechers we find elsewhere. (Oh Lorna, move to the Pacific Northwest, where people treasure their vets!) There are layers and oodles of bad guys and there's retribution and racing against the clock, a kidnapping, rescue attempts, monstrous animals and even a discussions of fractals. It all adds up to a fun read.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars First time....last time???, January 22, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Altar of Eden (Hardcover)
This was the first time I read one of his full novels, I had read a short story and enjoyed. So I thought I would try one of his books, started out alright then went down hill from there. Way too far-fetched for me, a saber tooth tiger, really????. I kept pushing through then he started quoting scripture, which I don't have a problem with, except it was the wrong scripture. It was when Malik asked if she knew the book of Genesis (Kindle page 330) and quoted scripture. The only problem was that the scripture he quoted was from the book of John and not from Genesis. I might try one of the Sigma series and see if it is any better.
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Altar of Eden
Altar of Eden by James Rollins
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