Monday, July 27, 2015

Relic by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

Just days before a massive exhibition opens at the popular New York Museum of Natural History, visitors are being savagely murdered in the museum's dark hallways and secret rooms. Autopsies indicate that the killer cannot be human...

But the museum's directors plan to go ahead with a big bash to celebrate the new exhibition, in spite of the murders.

Museum researcher Margo Green must find out who-or what-is doing the killing. But can she do it in time to stop the massacre?(source: B&N)

Far above Michael Crichton's Jurassic Park.”--Booklist

I grew up watching Jurassic Park and reading Michael Crichton, so I read Booklist's statement as a personal challenge. With a gutsy review like that printed on the front cover, I had very high expectations for this book. And, while I'm unwilling to concede the Jurassic point, Relic exceeded my expectations.

You may have heard of the 1997 film, which was based on the book. If you thought the film's plot was brilliant...the book might not be for you. If you thought the film could use fewer plot holes, more back story, and a snarky Southern FBI agent, then yes, absolutely read this book. Read this book for Agent Pendergast, who is delightful and mischievous (and the star of a whole series of techno-thrillers, of which this is only the first). Read this book also for shockingly lucid pseudo-science, quite unlike Crichton's medical jargon and trade-language.

The monster is terrifying, made even scarier by a plot twist late in the novel. If you love monsters, you'll totally love Mbwun. This guy has it all—mashed up genetic material, basically unkillable, a fascinating origin story, with just enough pathos to make you want to cry a little. The human characters, on the other hand, are predictable and have very few motivations behind their actions. They can be a little stereotypical at times, and most of their thoughts are inane and kind of boring. To me, however, the shallow characters didn't matter. Maybe that's because I based my expectations on other thrillers I'd read—the thriller genre, of course, being much more concerned with the actual thrilling than character development. This isn't to say that all the characters are lackluster—again, I direct you to Agent Pendergast, i.e. the best character ever—but characterization is definitely not the authors' main concern.

They're more concerned with gluing the reader to their chair and making them jump at mysterious night sounds. While this book probably isn't for the reader who can't handle descriptions of blood and gore, or for the squeamish (one of Mbwun's, uh, favorite foods, is really specific and gross), if you can power through, it's worth it. So, I don't know that I would say it's better than Jurassic Park. It's a fantastic read, especially good for summer, when it's more okay if you need to stay up until 3 reading. I accidentally read the first 200 pages while sitting at a coffee shop, so yeah, it's pretty engrossing. There's also a sequel, Reliquary, which I'm currently reading, and an entire series of books about Agent Pendergast (for when you realize that he is in fact the best).

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