on June 23, 2009
Yes, I doubted, very briefly. I'm ashamed. It's not that The Doomsday Key doesn't start off in a readable and totally entertaining manner. It really does. Rollins has what he does down to a science by now. He quickly reintroduces the main players (a few of whom we haven't seen in a while: Rachel Verona and Seichan) and establishes their relationships with each other. In addition to the ladies above, all the main Sigma players make their appearance, but as usual not all of them are heavily featured on this adventure. Seichan fans rejoice, she has a major role and experiences tremendous character development in this novel.
After the characters are reestablished, (again, as you'd expect) the action starts. A motorcycle chase here, a shootout there, a dash of international travel. Now, I love James Rollins with all my heart, but these opening salvos--while very well-written--felt a little... generic. My moment of doubt.
Happily, it didn't last long. Once Rollins set the main plot in motion, all such thoughts vanished. Seriously, WHAT was I thinking? For me, things really kicked into high gear with the introduction of a new character, Professor Wallace Boyle, whose lecture on peat bogs thrilled me to my soul. I know, peat bogs, who'd a thunk it? But again, that's Rollins' gift. He must look at the world through curiosity-colored glasses; he can find the wonder in the most unlikely of places and subjects. And even more brilliantly, he manages to string together a laundry list of disparate fascinating topics into the plot of a tight, tense thriller. And he does it again and again.
I know I'm being very, very vague about the plot. It would be a shame to give too much away. The central plot revolves around a plague from the past and a plague of the future: hunger. As characters in the novel expound, there will soon be a tipping point where there are far too many people on this planet to feed. Who gets to choose who lives or who dies? If you had the power and resources to make the hard choices, what would you do "to save the world?" And would you be a hero or a villain?
It is the exploring of the above questions that entails ancient artifacts, hidden rooms, booby traps, prophecies come true, missing bumble bees, miracle-performing saints, love triangles, the final resting place of Merlin the wizard, polar bears, teddy bears, and the world's healthiest apple. And I didn't even give you a hint of the real shocker!
A lot of thrillers make the goal, save the world, whatever, and end abruptly. Not so here. There was a nice... cooling down period after the action ended. It's a chance to check in with all the major characters, and a chance for Rollins to leave us with another of his signature cliff-hangers. This one isn't as brutal as some he's written, but those invested in the series will be left with a question to keep them wondering for the coming year.
A final note: Is it wrong that the author's afterwards have become my very favorite part of these novels? This may be the longest one yet (And for God's sake, DON'T read it before you finish the book!), and I am staggered by how much true stuff was worked into the novel. I mean, pretty much every too-amazing-to-be-true fact was, in fact, true. James Rollins, you rock my world!
on June 27, 2011
When taking the time to review a book, one must look at several factors: story line, plot development, depth of characters, and research accuracy. Once again this book has all of those factors and more. As with most novels by this author, I could easily sink into the book and get lost in the storyline. I had read the novella that was the framework for this book. I held off till last week to do so, it did nothing but making me want to know more! Then I turn and find a nice little teaser of the book after, it was enough to tell me this was going to be another book, with the characters I look forward to reading more of. I have stolen time during my clinicals, and reading another Rollin's book with my son (Jake Ransom & the Skull King's Shadow) since The Devil's Colony was released to read the book, it is solid.
I was surprised to see the low ratings on here, I go to look, and saw they have nothing to do with the book, but with the pricing. Now was I thrilled to pay 15.00 for my Kindle edition of the book. Nope, not even close. The price is set by the publisher, not by the Author. The authors have no say in pricing, the publishers do. On Amazon, the ratings have no sway with the publishing company, but it does help or hurt the author. If you want to communicate your distaste with the pricing, add it to your review, or contact the company. Do not penalize the Amazon standing of your favorite authors because of the pricing. Content is what is to be reviewed here, not the price of the product.
on June 21, 2011
Over the years, I've written a lot of enthusiastic things about the novels of James Rollins. But until now, I've never written this: THE DEVIL COLONY IS THE BEST NOVEL THAT JAMES ROLLINS HAS EVER WRITTEN! (Yes, in all caps even!) Like many readers, I was disappointed in the two-year wait for this latest installment in the Sigma Force series. Now, I'm thinking perhaps he should take two years on all the novels--I don't know if it was the extra time, but something has paid off huge dividends.
As always, summarizing the story is the hardest part. First, because I'd hate to spoil any surprises. And secondly, because it's just really hard to summarize one of Rollins's everything-but-the-kitchen-sink plots. The main action of this book opens in present day Utah. From two boys who can't resist the lure of the forbidden, a great and terrible discovery is made at a sacred Native American site. There are bodies. There is an artifact. And, astonishingly, something that goes to the very core of Mormon theology!
Just as the scientists on site are beginning to grasp what they've discovered, there is a huge explosion. The explosion is blamed on a Native American activist, but it's clear that this wasn't your standard bomb. It's something far more dangerous, with implications that spread further and further afield, and which drag Sigma operatives into the story on differing assignments and for different reasons. All the usual suspects are back, including the enigmatic Seichan, who is again paired in an uneasy alliance with Gray Pierce. Painter Crowe is also back in the field this time around. Operatives from the Guild are up to their usual tricks, and even as readers learn more about the shadowy organization in this novel, new questions are raised for the next book. (It's infuriating how he does that.)
In provocative messages leading up to the publication of The Devil Colony, James Rollins repeated asked, "Was America founded on a lie?" The plot of this novel does get right to the heart of the formation of this country. What were Lewis and Clark really up to? What was Thomas Jefferson communicating in secret ciphers? It also explains the fate of some of the most mysteriously lost cultures through history. It delves into the not only the most cutting-edge technology, but also some amazingly advanced ancient technology. And, yes, it also explores the foundation of the Mormon Church. Oh, and there's a super-volcano! And killer whales! And the heist of all heists!
Seriously, I could go on like this all day. The scope of this novel is breath-taking. What's amazing is that Rollins pulls all of these diverse threads together SO plausibly that you'll find yourself wondering if he has indeed solved half the puzzles of the ages in one fell swoop. As always, there's a staggering amount of fact laced throughout his fantastic plot. It's enough to make you go, "Hmmm."
The pace starts to race early on, and it just never slows down. The stakes in the book simply get bigger and bigger. Technically, it's a well-structured page-turner. But in the end, it's the story that got me and held me. Every part of it was just so inventive, exciting, and so darn interesting! I entitled this review "Best. Novel. Yet." I don't anticipate Mr. Rollins topping The Devil Colony any time soon, but I hold out hope. He wrote this one. What wonderful tales can we look forward to in the future?
on August 3, 2011
I am an avid reader, especially of the thriller genre, and there are a handful of authors who's work I actively look forward to and seek to get my hands on as quickly as possible, even if it means buying and Advanced Reader's Copy on e-bay. For me, James Rollins is one of those authors. In this instance, I exercised the patience to borrow it from the local library (but I got on the wait list very, very early). I was anxious to read this novel because it features great characters from past Sigma force works like Painter Crowe, Gray Pierce, Monk, Kowalski, and Seichan. Good start. However, overall, I found the story line to be rather dull. The aging Sigma crew came off as old, tired and ready for retirement. Yet, against all odds, they still managed to save the world from imminent destruction. By the end of the novel, it is clear that one of them is ready to retire, one or two of them SHOULD retire, and the operation needs "new blood" in a big way if it is to continue. The plot intermingles native american lore with secrets kept by some of America's founding fathers, most notably Thomas Jefferson, and the threat posed by so-called "nanotechnology". The author's opinion that nanotechnology has ancient roots is, to me, difficult to swallow. This conjecture was not proven to my satisfaction in "The Devil Colony". Just because we don't understand how an ancient sword was manufactured, and even if microscopic analysis of the material revealed the presence of "nano" strands of something, this does not necessarily mean that the creators of that sword understood the concept of nanotechnology. In fact, the term nanotechnology itself is nebulous. Basically, the "nano world" is the level of individual molecules. We have very few tools to observe the nano world. One is high powered electron microscopy, which can generate images of the "nano world" at its upper end--that is, molecules that are multiple nanometers in length. The other is X-ray diffraction of crystalline molecules, which can image, via electron density, atomic resolution images of molecules at a accuracy of 0.1 namometers or even slightly better. A strand of DNA is part of the nano world. And cells carry out nano reactions involving DNA all the time. So nature uses nanotechnology all the time. So how do humans use it? So far, mostly it is done by chemical rather than biological reactions. One group recently produced DNA molecules that resembled a "smiley face". Eventually, molecular polymers may revolutionalize computer science, body armor, and other things mentioned by Rollins. But at present, this science is in its infancy, and no one understands its potential. What is totally off the wall in "The Devil Colony" is the idea that ancient people not only understood the advanced concept of nanotechnology (they didn't even know what a molecule was!), but were somehow also able to harness its potential to create a dangerous substance with the potential to destroy the world. I ask you: how could they have done this (maybe it came from an advanced alien culture?), and why? Where did the "nanonests" described in the novel originate from? This is not explained. And what was their purpose? Also not explained. There are additional scientific questions that the book raises. For instance, if these nanonests, presumably consisting of nanobots, are breaking down matter into something that resembles dust, then where are they getting the energy to do so and where is the energy that is dissipated by breaking matter into smaller (unspecified) entities dissipated? E=mc(2). When mass is destroyed, energy must be produced. One would think this energy would be liberated in the form of heat, which, according to the novel, would destroy the nanonests. So how exactly does that work? It doesn't. At least not for this reader/scientist. "The Devil Colony" is a slow read for a Rollins novel, and by the end I was skimming the pages and hoping it would all be over soon. This is a far cry from previous recent novels by the same author, which this reader/scientist found to be more scientifically plausible and more suspenseful. I'm sorry to say that I was disappointed by this latest Sigma Force novel. And I think it may be time to put the Sigma Force to rest. I have focused mainly on the scientific aspects of this novel but the character development and general story line were also weaker than what I have come to expect from Rollins. This novel ended up being an unsatisfactory meld between a by now run-of-the-mill type Dan Brown decryption plot and the Michael Crichton novel "Prey". However, Crichton did a better job making the science of nanobots seem credible.
on May 30, 2010
There is a plot afoot in this novel and it is insidious. The plot is to get you to believe in the blurb enough to buy the book. Sadly, Rollins (or his intern or whomever actually puts all these "ideas" into a readable format relies too heavily on the formulaic and the cliched. When every chapter is written as a breath-taking cliffhanger, when every set of dialogues is so predictable, when every alleged plot-twist is telegraphed from miles away, when the very writing and rhetoric itself is riddled with so many cliches -- the adventure sinks to the bathetic "doodlings" of an adolescent video game author.
In the beginning, Rollins' books were slapdash, but entertaining. There were a few unexpected twists and treacheries; no longer so. Like Dan Brown's and Dean Koontz's, this is factory-wrought prose of the "cheaper, faster" variety melded sloppily with character behavior that is not so much "expected" as it is "re-hashed" without flavor or depth. Motivation is reduced to absurdity. Rollins has always tailored his "adventure" stories to a lower common denominator reading public, but this sinks the travesty to a new level of "take the money and run" novelism. If you can taste the bitter grief of a reader seeing a former entertainer not simply stumble but plunge willingly into the abyss of sheer commercialism, then you can grasp the point of my review. Sic transit gloria, James Rollins...I shall not read nor buy another.
on June 21, 2011
If you liked the phenomenal political thriller Gods of Ruin or anything by Preston & Child, you're going to love the latest by James Rollins. I'm a big fan of the Sigma series and I was glad to hear about them coming back home for a mission though that meant I wouldn't be able to travel vicariously through Team Sig as they traipse from Norway to Rome to Nepal.
One constant in these Rollins treasures is the wealth of history and science that the author weaves into the story. It's seamless and feels right (like `Gods' mentioned before) and you get to take something away from each story besides some thrilling action. Also, Rollins likes to integrate multiple story lines and you never really know which character is the true protagonist. They all are.
The Devil Colony is no different except the history is our own this time and the mysteries surrounding the story could be a big shock for the reader. This book explores the founding of the country and specifically the push westward and of course, the Mormon connection. Fascinating stuff.
Rollins's stuff is not nearly as hokey as da Vinci Code and he doesn't get into crazy conspiracy theories. As Rollins said, the truth is pretty thrilling in itself! I highly recommend this one and if you want to go back to the beginning, get "Sandstorm". It's my favorite of the series.
I have been a fan of James Rollins for quite a few years now, and I've been hooked like a junky craving his next fix...a fix which is increasingly more difficult to deal with considering the gaps between releases. Now I WILL say this: with the addition of his Jake Ransom series and 'Alter of Eden', a stand-alone release, James has had a literally phenomenal run as of late...however, when you're hooked, the wait seems to feel longer & longer, even when sometimes it really isn't. I suppose all things considered, I'd rather wait for a 'great' novel than get a relatively 'good' novel sooner.
The Sigma Force series, which began with Sandstorm (yet another home run hit, btw), has never been better, and with The Devil Colony, we have the best to date. Its hard to summarize this story without giving too much away...let me ask you this: what does Thomas Jefferson have to do with the founding of America...? You probably only THINK you know the whole truth. The famous trek West by Lewis & Clark, did it have a secret agenda that history has ignored--or have we purposely been kept in the dark about? The Great Seal of the United States has a connection with an all but forgotten American Indian, who some consider a Lost Founding Father...so what is the connection all about? Did some ancient cultures actually manufacture tools which have nanotechnology built in...fiction or did it in fact actually happen? What does the Book of Mormon have to do with it all? Trust me, it takes an unusually skilled author to bring all of these elements together as seamlessly as Rollins does. Not only are most the topics 100% true--it becomes increasingly difficult to separate fact & fiction as you progress further into this Sigma Adventure. One of my favorite parts of reading a Rollins novel is going through the last few pages which--thankfully--answers the question as to what really IS truth and what was simply grand storytelling (sometimes truth IS stranger than fiction).
Whether you find yourself in the mountains of Utah, inside Fort Knox or making a grand discovery of what happened to the Anasazi Indians who inexplicably disappeared hundreds of years ago without a trace, The Devil Colony is a force to be reckoned with from literally the first page on. I've said for years now that while I really LOVE all his books, Map of Bones was Rollins best all-around tale...but with The Devil Colony, its time I made a much-needed amendment to my opinion. Hands down the most all-out entertaining novel I've read in at LEAST 5 years. I KNOW how irritating it is when I see blurbs on the backs of books which say 'once you start, you can't stop'...mostly 'cuz the phrase is SO over-used...but honestly, I cannot think of anything to say other than be careful: once you start this book, it is VERY difficult to put down. I found as I read late into the night that I would make deals with myself, saying I'd stop...after the NEXT chapter, only to break that promise time & again. Maybe you have better self-control, but I guess if I'm going to have a lapse, I'm glad it was while reading this.
Once again, the wait is on for whats coming next...THANKS, James, you hit a Grand Slam with this one, kudos--I simply loved it!
After waiting for over a year and a half for my preordered copy of "The Devil Colony" by James Rollins to be finished and delivered I can say I was not disappointed. The novel is one more installment of the Sigma Force series. The combination of factual information along with Rollins imagination has been blended into a fast paced and intriguing novel. The suspense and curiosity of where Rollins was taking this story kept it a page turner.
The opening scenario of the novel sets the stage with an excavation of a Native American burial mound taking place in Kentucky in 1779 authorized by then governor of Virginia Thomas Jefferson. At this dig a monster's skull is unearthed containing gold plates inscribed with a map.
The novel then brings us to the present day Utah where archeologists are removing an ancient Native American Artifact from a cave kept secret by the Ute tribes. Upon removal the artifact is exposed to a waiting crowd of reporters triggering an explosion releasing thousands of self replicating destructive nanobots. In the words of the author they begin "Denaturing" the environment and humans into dust.
The Sigma Special Forces Unit, headed by Painter Crowe, are called in to investigate and the action is ratcheted up when his team finds out this may be the first of more explosions that threaten to destroy life on earth. It is soon uncovered that the secretive order known as the Guild may be behind the explosions and a conspiracy going back to the founding of the United States.
"The Devil Colony" is a success in my opinion because I enjoyed reading it and felt it was satisfyingly entertaining. It was one of those novels where every chance I had I picked it up and read some more. I give it 5 stars.
As a die-hard Rollins fan, I eagerly grabbed this book within weeks of it's release. The plotline revisited some of my favorite characters, including the mysterious Seichan. I was hoping for a resolution of the Grey/Seichan romance, but I will warn any potential readers that the resolution is a bit of a grey area (drum riff).
The plotline of this entry focuses on an influential owner of a bioengineering company who has plans to "save" the world through controversial means as well as following along with Grey & company as they try to find a long lost "Doomsday Key" that is very much desired by Sigma's rival group the Guild. Grey has more than one thing on his mind as he has to figure out the clues as well as figure out his relationship dynamics with his previous lover Rachel as well as the enigmatic Seichan. (Well, first he has to figure out whether or not he can TRUST Seichan.)
Overall I enjoyed the book but I will admit that there were one or two points that seemed to be a bit of a lull. Mostly the "in between" scenes that were necessary to move the plot to the next part. I enjoyed learning more about Seichan but I found the whole Grey/Rachel/Seichan dynamics to be a little wearing at times & I didn't really feel any romantic sparks between Grey & Rachel in this book. (Then again, that may have been the author's intent for the relationship to be more of a desperation thing than a romance thing.) I did particularly enjoy Kowalski in this book. He's a meathead & a grunt, but he's great comic relief. It was a relief to have some plot movement with the Guild plot arc since that's something that has been dragged out for a while now. There is a bit of an ambiguous ending of sorts, but it's entertaining to think of the possibilities that could open up in the future. In the end though, this just wasn't Rollins' strongest novel in the Sigma series. He's written far better than this. It's not enough to put me off the series, but it's enough to make me admit that this will disappoint some readers.
Now I do have to put a disclaimer down. If you have never read any of the Sigma novels in the past, this is not the book to start with. While the bigger part of the plot is somewhat self contained, the overlying plot arcs & character dynamics will more than likely befuddle anyone who has no knowledge of anything that's happened before. The book calls on a lot of previous story arcs in this book.
on July 4, 2010
The reading of this series needs to be done in the correct order to fully understand the background of the main characters.
An experimental farm in Africa where there is a massacre of all the staff and refugees in the farm. A member of the staff was the son of a US senator and the Sigma Force was given the task of investigating what happened. Monk Kokkalis, member of the Sigma Force, was about to interview the colleague of the senator's son, when a group of assassins killed the colleague and blew up his laboratory.
In Italy, an archeologist was murdered in a church and a subsequent explosion injures a Vatican official he was supposed to meet there. Rachel, a niece of the Vatican official, finds an ancient artifact hidden by the archeologist before his death. Fearing that nothing will come out of the subsequent police investigation, Rachel sends a message to Cmdr. Grey Pierce, asking for help to uncover the truth.
Grey was on the way to Italy to shadow Seichan, a deadly woman who has tried to kill him as well as helped him in the past. A common link to thess events were genetically modified food crops and the Doomsday vault containing seeds that can be used to grow new crops in case of a world wide catastrophe.
Three storylines interwoven in a very interesting book but I still wish that I had read the previous books in this series to understand the truer picture.