The Eye of God (Sigma Force)
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125 of 132 people found the following review helpful
The quote above is the final sentence of the first chapter of James Rollins' latest Sigma Force thriller, The Eye of God. In other words, it's just another low-stakes drama from this master of disaster. This time around, the prologue opens in AD 453 with the death of Attila the Hun. From there, we quickly move to present-day Rome, with our old friends Vigor and Rachel. (Already, things are off to a good start!) Vigor is consulting with his niece about a mysterious package he's just received from an old friend--a priest declared dead more than a decade prior. The package contains an artifact, a human skull etched with Jewish Aramaic. "I believe this relic is an example of early Talmudic magic practiced by Babylonian Jews." It also contains a book bound in human skin. And these artifacts are pointing towards a coming apocalypse with a very imminent date.

Meanwhile... At an air force base in California, "something's gone wrong." So says Sigma's Painter Crowe, who happens to be in attendance. A special camera has been tracking a comet's progress through space, trying to collect "proof that the comet was shedding or disturbing dark energy in its wake." After a few pages of fairly sexy physics talk, remote data is retrieved: "It displayed a satellite view of the eastern seaboard of the United States, the photo taken as the satellite blazed a trail across the sky. It was detailed enough to make out the major coastal metropolises. Boston, New York City, Washington, D.C. Every city lay in a smoldering ruin." So, you've got your ancient prophecies lining up disturbingly with your weird space-time science anomaly prophesies. Ladies and gentlemen, we are off to the races!

Now, I've reviewed a lot of Rollins' novels in the past decade plus, and the reviews are beginning to feel a bit redundant only because Mr. Rollins is so consistent with the strengths of his novels. So please bear with me as I go over the major bullet points:

* I read a lot of this type of science/adventure thriller and I don't think there's another writer out there that can touch Rollins for the complexity of the tales he weaves--and I mean that in an entirely positive way. Above I alluded to Attila the Hun, the Roman Catholic Church, advanced physics, and Jewish mysticism. That is merely the tip of the iceberg. Throw into the mix Genghis Khan, the world's only freshwater seal, exotic locales spanning the globe, magnetic fingertips (So freakin' cool!), St. Thomas, multiverses, and the question, "Could the ancient Chinese have had knowledge of events described in the book of Genesis?" In every book, Rollins weaves an astonishing number of incredibly diverse, incredibly cool elements into one cohesive tale. And usually it hangs together so well, I wonder if he hasn't stumbled onto some secrets of the universe.
* Again, I must commend the author on his strong female characters. I don't think readers are ever disappointed when Rachel and Seichan are both a part of the mix. The Eye of God introduces several noteworthy new female characters as well. (And for those of you waiting for something to happen with Gray... Your wait is over.)
* How many different times and ways can I express my love of Kowalski? This time around he enters with the line, "Why does that duck keep looking at me?" Which is just so Kowalski. I thought he was funnier than ever in this book. I want to quote all his best lines, but I'll refrain.
* Easter eggs! There are Easter eggs in this novel that refer to a non-Sigma book in the Rollins-verse. It's not a character this time around. Really, really fun!
* Not just one super-cool author's note at the end describing what's fact and what's fiction, this time there are several of them.

Now, this is the point where I usually kvetch about a bunch of nit-picky stuff, but I don't really have any significant complaints this time around. Once I was going to ding him on a plot element being too outlandish, but as he often does, he followed it up with enough science that I was willing to continue suspending my disbelief. No, this is a strong novel in the long-running Sigma series. The plot is fascinating, and I hope it goes without saying that it moves at a lightning pace. Furthermore, there are significant developments among the major players. And that's all I'll say about that.

I honestly don't know how long James Rollins can possibly come up with these convoluted tales he spins. Surely he's written about every single interesting thing in the universe by now? But apparently not. As long as he keeps writing them, I'm going to keep reading them!
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71 of 79 people found the following review helpful
on February 14, 2014
No spoilers. I don't like leaving bad or mediocre reviews but feel I must balance out the overwhelming praise. 5-star books either are so good that I don't want them to end...or I can't wait to see how they will end. Here, I had to force myself just to get to the ending and be done with it. I didn't care how the story ended or what happened to any of the characters.

I wanted to like it and accepted the unrealistic premise but just couldn't get past a few things:

1) Too many characters. Gratuitous characters were introduced throughout the story who did nothing more than take away focus of the characters I was interested in. I would skip entire paragraphs just to be able to follow along and get back to the compelling characters/plot lines. (I don't need a guy's entire life story like the fact that he he has a fiancee in New Mexico if all the guy does is stand around and only appears at several points in the story).

2) Atrocious dialogue. How can an author create such a creative and mind-bending premise, and be so articulate about the geographic and historic settings, resort to such B-movie dime store dialogue? Why does Zachowski (or whatever his name is) even talk? (Ex, action scene, main character takes out bad guy and tosses Z bad guy's gun..."Christmas is early this year" ... or main guy/main girl tandem to take out different bad guy and Z says, "remind me never to get you two mad at me.") What a bunch of well-worn drivel.

3) Too many attempts at plot twists. Obstacle obstacle obstacle obstacle. There is no flow. It's just one problem after another that wears the reader out. I got to the point where I just didn't care anymore.

4) Too unrealistic in the details. The entire premise is unrealistic but I gave the author poetic license. However, an unrealistic premise supported with unrealistic characters/details put me off. It's hard to read when my eyes are rolling. A 23-year-old PHD? And she's the sole subject matter expert when the future of civilization is at stake? Oh, I get it. It's so she can hook up with the 24-ish ex-special forces guy with dual degrees in complex sciences who inserts magnets in his finger tips.

I'm happy for the readers who liked. I'm not trying to be over-critical. I just couldn't get past the things above and imagine other potential readers who would have the same problems with this positive reviewed book.
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26 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on June 25, 2013
James Rollins has done it again. The Eye of God is a gripping tale of science, history, adventure, and mind boggling theories of how reality, as we understand it, may not be reality at all. The Eye of God pulls you in when a satellite sent out to study the dark energy of a comet crashes to Earth, after sending one last image of the Eastern Seaboard of the US in a smoldering ruin. At the same time a package bearing strange artifacts is delivered to the Vatican for Mosignor Vigor Verona from a colleague who disappeared a decade before. Inside is a skull etched with ancient Aramaic and a tome bound in human skin, the skin of Genghis Khan.

The SIGMA crew we have all come to know and love is dispatched to different Asian countries to investigate the scientific and historical aspects of the comet and dark matter. Rachel Verona and her Uncle Vigor join forces once again with SIGMA to help follow the historical trail that lead back to major historical figures such as Genghis Khan, Attila the Hun, St. Thomas, all the way back to Adam and Eve.

The way James Rollins seamlessly includes scientific theories on dark energy, quantum physics, the multiverse theory, and quantum entanglement will draw you in and keep you thinking for days after you've finished the book. It all comes down to a these questions... What is reality? Are we all just a 3D hologram? And what happens to us after we die? Does our energy just leave the universe forever? Or is what we perceive as death not even real? Is it possible that our consciousness just moves to another form of a different reality, to live out the rest of our lives on the other side of the same coin?

This book guarantees you will come to question everything it is that you think you know.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on July 14, 2013
This is one story where I loved the story and the premise. The action was brisk and there were plenty of interesting characters. However, I was rather shocked at the downturn in quality of the writing. I've always cited James Rollins as one of the cleanest writers I've ever met and even though this one still had a lot of that, one major problem marred the story.

The Eye Of God was an orgy of head-hopping. There, I said it. Though it was technically a third person point of view, Mr. Rollins held little regard for who drove what scene. A scene may have started with Gray or Painter, but as soon as another character entered the picture, he popped into their head. By the conclusion of that scene, it may or may not have ended in the head of the character who started it. This major problem dominated the entire story. The result was that I couldn't emotionally invest in ANY of the characters because I couldn't keep track of them and none of them were given a solid or consistent block of time to flesh anything out without being interrupted by someone else's thoughts.

There was also a little too much use of the passive phrase "began to" which is another pet peeve. The only reason I noticed that issue was because the constant head-hopping had me on edge.

This could've been one of the best stories I've read so far this year. However, I can't say that this time. Once again, loved the story, loved the premise, and loved the conjecture. I also loved the explanations at the end. They were a nice bonus.

The story kept me glued to my seat just for the plot and premise alone. As for the characters, they simply moved the plot along and were there for the ride. I was glad to see all the favorites, Painter, Gray, Monk and Seichan, but their participation, though it drove the story was watered down by not being pure enough. I liked the addition of Duncan and the new girl (can't remember her name).

Since I'm more attuned to writing flaws than the general reader, maybe I should say highly recommended because most readers probably wouldn't notice the head-hopping except that they may feel less emotionally connected to the story but don't know why (and can still enjoy it just fine). As for myself, I can only say recommended.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on July 3, 2013
I had to wait a few days to read this after I purchased it because I've learned that Rollins doesn't give readers much time to come up for air during his books.
There are no good stopping places in Rollins' books- just nonstop action and a torrential flood of interesting information.
My only stopping points are when I head to Google to look things up. I'm a little embarrassed to admit that this happened a lot in his latest book.
I love the characters. I love the science. I even love the far-fetched theoretical and even supernatural aspects that some others seem uncomfortable with.

Excellent installment. Highly recommend!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on June 28, 2014
When I finished reading this book my first reaction was write a one star review. Bad physics, inane dialogue, cliched characters, an unbelievable story line filled with implausible situations all wrapped together with pseudo philosophy.
Then I realized the author had accomplished his purpose, he had created the ultimate "pot boiler". It had taken me back to that old radio show "I Love A Mystery" and the fun of following the improbable exploits of Jack, Doc and Reggie. A fun read if you can suspend your logical side. A big bang for a buck ninety nine.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on June 30, 2014
Take The X-Files and mash in a little Twilight Zone. Baste in a touch of Tom Clancy, and marinate in A Gathering of Twine (The Spirals of Danu) (and I'm really torn as to which one is the better "end of days" book because they are both superb), and you get The Eye of God.

This has everything - science, religion, haunting sub plots, adrenaline... everything.

This is a thinking man's action book with thrills, spills, and enough shocks and crises to keep you hooked until the last page.

I couldn't put it down.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on February 5, 2014
Wow. This is the first James Rollins' novel that I have read. I picked it up while in line at the grocery store. Upon first glance, it seemd like it was going to be a real page-turning pot-boiler, ust the sort of air-headed and exciting thiriller to liven up a few chilly winter days.
Alas, I far over estimated the joys to be found within this book's pages.
The dialogue is so turgid, the character development so flat, the characters so two-dimensional, and the plot so needlessly, and incomprehensibly complicated, that, by comparison, "The Eye of God" makes "The DaVinci Code" seem like "The Grapes of Wrath."
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on June 12, 2014
I looked forward to reading a good historical novel about interesting times, and interesting people. It never came! I never got interested in any of the characters, and there were lots of them to remember. And it may be just me, but I diislike constant killing and mayhem. I stopped reading only about 30% through it.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on May 6, 2014
There may be a cult of Rollins followers, of which I am not. This book was suggested to me as a new writing on modern quantum mechanics, dark energy, and cosmology, which did interest me. The story is an fictional adventure novel with only a tenuous link to modern physics theory. The lead characters get themselves out of completely improbable situations over and over again - which I gather is typical Rollins adventure writing. I had to struggle to finish the book, because it was not what I was expecting to read. It is not a new scientific investigation into dark energy and extreme physics.
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