19 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on August 13, 2000
What a great book this was; too bad J.R. does not have the backing of the publisher to go hard cover on this story. Let me say, I was reluctant to buy this book at first. I read SUBTERRANEAN and I did not enjoy it at all. My review does state that on the amazon customer review section of this web site. But because there was a review by one of my favorite authors, Douglas Preston, on the cover, I decided to give Mr. Rollins another try. To my surprise this book was right on. The setting is in the South American Jungle fill with drama, suspense, and intrigue. The story unfolds about the Inca's life and treasures, which have been buried for untold centuries. College students take this ride in the unknown. There challgene will be whether they survive because as the story goes....THOSE WHO WOULD DISTURB THE CHOSEN MUST NOW FACE THE ULTIMATE CHALLENGE: SURVIVAL. To find what happen you have to turn those pages until almost the very end. This is GREAT writing folks... a burn the midnight oil story.
This second book from J.R. was good and not just good, but very good. I can't wait for his third book!
49 of 65 people found the following review helpful
on July 5, 2000
I am happy to report that James Rollins second book is even better than his first! Since reading Subterranean last year, I have impatiently awaited James Rollins' new book. This book was exciting and fast paced and contained all of the elements that are so close to my heart...adventure, archaeological discoveries, romance, and just plain good fun. I particularly love the Indiana Jones type of storyline. Now I am totally bereft...after waiting for so long to read it, I completed it in one sitting. Please Mr. Rollins write faster or I will have to force myself to read slower. Only problem is that once you pick one of James Rollins' books up, you cant put it back down. I honestly dont think I can wait another year for your next book.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on December 30, 2001
"Excavation" starts out on an archeological dig in the Peruvian Andes. We get underground tunnels and a sealed door, cave-ins, would-be tomb robbers, mummified bodies, and ancient booby-traps. All fast-paced, entertaining and fairly plausible. From there on, this tale becomes increasingly fantastic until it all gets a bit hard to swallow. If you can suspend your disbelief enough to accept the last quarter of the book, though, it continues to be fast-paced and entertaining. Until the last half-dozen pages or so. At that point Rollins gets downright maudlin in his efforts to wrap up the romantic entanglements. Then comes the epilogue, which wraps up some loose ends with and definitely scifi explanation and leaves lots of room for sequels.
As I said, "Excavation" gets pretty fantastic before its over, but I suppose it's no more difficult to accept that most scifi I've read. It was fun and the action never let up. Its all very shallow, there are no deep concepts being explored here, but scifi fans and those who enjoy the kind of techno-thrillers by writers like Crichton (although it isn't quite as polished as Crichton's work) will like this book, as well.
15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on October 14, 2000
Ouch. I can't help but feel this book should be punished in some way. I picked it due to an intriguing description and cover, and hoped to be in for some good, old-fashioned adventuring. What I ended up with was a book so poorly written as to be unignorable... you can't even just not-think your way through this one, it forces its badness into your skull with a small golden dagger. I will give the author what credit I can: he would make an excellent screenwriter. This book can't shake it's inherent movieness, it cries out for a film version. The dialogue is snappy and the visuals would be stunning on-screen, and I get the distinct impression it was written with just that in mind. Its plot is just coherent enough to make an action/adventure movie, the sort where you don't think too hard, you just relax and watch. That, however, does not play well in book form. When read, the characters (all but one) are painfully two-dimensional stereotypes and the plot is so full of holes, omissions, contradictions and bizarre leaps of logic that it simply falls apart, leaving the reader clutching his or her head in pain and wondering why. The author's vocabulary is good and his prose is better than some, but the story and characters are simply not very good. I can imagine the characters reciting their lines with quiet embarassment written on their faces... And the part of the book where our heroine feigns seduction on a novice monk in order to get information was so reprehensible that it made me want to vomit. It's best when writing, I think, not to make the reader feel as though he's accidentally put his hand in something unspeakably horrible and squishy. I can't help but think that scene speaks volumes about the author. The whole scene felt like the literary equivalent of two first cousins getting married... you're disgusted, and at the same time, embarassed for them.
There are positives I should say... the premise is undeniably creative, and seems to be quite well-researched. I tried to like it, I really did, but by the end it seemed clear that the book simply suffered from a lack of real care. Rarely was any emotion conveyed, as the characters and situations were so cliched that you didn't really have to *read* it to know what was going to happen... There was no apparent message or theme, it was just... there. The author shows potential as far as concepts are concerned, but everything else was just unrealised.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on August 20, 2000
I bought this "page-turner" after having enjoyed "Thunderhead" by Lincoln Childs and Douglas Preston. I was not seeking Great Literature, but merely another lightweight archaeological thriller appropriate for vacation reading. *Excavation* is indeed an action-packed tale that occurs in an exotic locale, the Peruvian Andes; so far, so good. However, as I compulsively turned those pages, I ultimately found myself more annoyed than entertained by Rollins' saga.
You see, I believe there is such a thing as too much action and too outlandish a plot, and this book represents a perfect example. There are so many Indiana Jones-esque booby-traps, heretofore unknown menacing creatures, blood-curdling screams, and in-the-nick-of-time escapes that the whole thing actually becomes laughable after a while. The last straw for me was not so much the screaming naked ape-bear-cannibals nor the roving killer mob of albino tarantulas. No, it was the inclusion of a gratuitous passage in which a large bat gets tangled in the female protagonist's hair. The bat-in-the-hair bummer is possibly the oldest nature myth around, and yet Rollins actually saw fit to throw it in here. Has he no shame?
Meanwhile, the characters are one-dimensional and wooden, veritable cardboard cutouts about whom I found it difficult to care. The romantic interest aspects of the book are downright corny, with the highly predictable trajectory of the two heroes' love relationships portrayed in formulaic, clichéd fashion.
Overall, I might recommend this book to a very young reader who is attracted to stories composed of frenetic, nonstop 'action' without the necessity of a lot of heart or intelligence. But everyone else beware: this book makes Childs and Preston seem like Faulkner and Hemingway by comparison.
16 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on July 5, 2000
I have been waiting impatiently for the second James Rollins book and have certainly not been disappointed. James Rollins just gets better and better. This adventure was fast paced and combined all of my favorite elements such as adventure, lost civilizations, sprinkled with a little romance. There are not a great many adventure novels written about South American civilizations making it a fresh subject for an archaeological adventure. My biggest disappointment was that I read it in one sitting and now have to wait for Rollins next book. He needs to either learn to write faster or I need to learn to read slower. Please hurry Mr Rollins with your next adventure!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on September 19, 2007
I've read a couple of Rollins' other books (Sandstorm, Map of Bones) and found them well-written, intelligent, and exciting, if a bit far-fetched. This one goes way over the top with alien beings, a surviving ancient race, a mysterious shape-shifting healing substance, and even a couple of resurrections! Stephen King might have been able to make a good story of some of this material, but Rollins doesn't seem to able to pull it off. I found it totally unbelievable, and not even very interesting in a fanciful way. It might have still been a fun read if not for the constant clichés, weak dialogue, and inconsistencies. On one page he describes Joan's character as in her late fifties (p. 13, MMP edition) Then (on p. 112, the next day in the story), the character is suddenly forty-eight years old. And as another reviewer mentioned, Joan is supposedly an old college flame of the 60-year-old Henry.
Other things I found irritating: The author couldn't seem to go more than a few pages without one of his characters exclaiming "Oh, God!" (even when events didn't seem to warrant such an exclamation). Likewise, over and over, he referred to Ralph's character as the "large black man" or "the ex-football player". After the first five times or so, I began thinking, "all right already, we get it". Then, as in the old sci-fi and horror movies, he killed off the only black character in the story mid-way! (Sorry if that was a spoiler for those who haven't read it yet.) The antagonists were mostly cartoonish embodiments of evil. As one prepares to kill Joan: "Joan noted the slight bubble of drool at the corner of his lips. The thick-limbed brute clearly lusted to test his irons on her flesh." In fact, all of the characters were underdeveloped and I found I didn't much care what happened to any of them. The only one who was given some personality, and that I found likeable, was Norman. I'm glad the author didn't make his character just a stereotype of a gay man. And I did liked the way he treated the developing respect and friendship between Ralph and Norman. It could have been sappy and clichéd, but he at least handled that with dignity and sensitivity.
I understand this was Rollin's second book. While a glimmer of his potential talent appeared in the pages, this book was definitely not one of his best. Worth a read only if you're a diehard Rollins fan.
13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
If you're a fan of the Preston/Childs books, you might be drawn to this adventure story, but watch out. It's about as hokey as they come. From an embarrassingly bad romance between two aging archeologists to an even more embarrassing friendship between a redneck gay-basher and his new gay buddy (he learns, of course, that gays are "just like us") this book suffers from too much PC garbage, too much sappy dialogue, and too many derivative plot devices.
I was bothered by Preston's apparent endorsement of the book (his comment, "it's a real page turner," is emblazoned on the cover of the paperback). But I guess if you take Preston literally, the comment makes sense. Yes, the book is a "real page turner" -- I ended up skipping more of them than I actually read.
If you're looking for a good adventure story in the Preston/Childs mold, try "Neanderthal," or Crichton's "Timeline." Rollins just isn't a good enough writer to carry it off.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on August 5, 2005
Another classic Rollins adventure novel. I consider his books great escape from the craziness of my own life to those characters in his books and this book was unique in many ways. Reviving the Inca lore and developing creatures that actually could be possible (from my paleontological standpoint as a vertebrate paleontologist) was a fascinating escape from the typical scientific literature I normally read. True adventure from start to finish!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on March 12, 2001
Not one of my favorites, despite being set in one of my favorite locales. I found it difficult to get into, perhaps because Rollins mixes too much sci-fi into what I expected to be an archeolgical plot. I'm not much of a fan of paranormal fiction, and Rollins apparently is. He must have wanted to mix several genres to see how it might go over. I think you really, really have to like "high" adventure to appreciate this book (or be high). If you like the movie "King Solomon's Mines" with Richard Chamberlain, this is probably a book for you. If you expect more substance, nore believability, and want a more engrossing storyline, I'd recommend Grisham's "Testament," Marcotte's "Gold in the Shadow," Preston's "The Relic," or even Cussler's "Serpent." If you liked "Subterranean" and enjoy Rollins' overall style, you may like it more than I did.