ALTAR OF EDEN by James Rollins [Review]

Altar of Eden

When I found out that James Rollins’ latest book, Altar of Eden, isn’t a Sigma Force novel, I admit I was disappointed. Then I reminded myself that prior to the Sigma Force series, Rollins wrote some exceptional standalone books like Subterranean and Amazonia (which, by the way, has more than a few similarities to the movie Avatar). Altar of Eden is Rollins’ first book to feature a veterinarian, but it’s reminiscent of some of his earlier books. The story takes place in Louisiana where US Border Patrol Agent Jack Menard has discovered a shipwrecked boat full of exotic animals. He brings in veterinarian Lorna Polk to examine them because they have odd abnormalities and seemingly heightened intelligence. Lorna suspects someone has been trying to create genetic throwbacks or animals with traits long lost to evolution (like snakes with legs). Unfortunately, the crew of the boat can’t provide answers because they are dead and it seems an escaped jaguar with the teeth of a saber-toothed tiger is responsible. Lorna and Jack must put aside their past history together to hunt the missing jaguar before it kills again.

What I love about Rollins’ books is that they are the perfect blend of science, action, and adventure. Altar of Eden maintains an exciting pace while Rollins sprinkles in fascinating details about genetic engineering and veterinary science (presented in a way that is accessible, but never condescending). How many authors can make you want to go read more about fractals? It should be no surprise that Rollins can create a cool veterinarian character like Lorna (being a veterinarian himself), but I was surprised at how well he wrote a woman’s voice. They only reason I took off a star is because some of the plot is just unbelievably far-fetched. That’s true of almost all thrillers, but it remains my pet peeve. Still, if you are looking for an entertaining read, pop up some popcorn and curl up with Altar of Eden. And don’t worry Sigma Force fans; the next book in that series will be out this summer.

Quotes from Altar of Eden:

“Atavism is where a genetic trait, lost for generations, reappears in an individual.”
“A genetic throwback?”
“Exactly. In this case, a throwback to a time before snakes lost their limbs.”

“In many ways,” Bennett said, “this place truly is Eden. All God’s creatures—great and small—living in harmony.”

“Perhaps what we’re looking at is the source of the mythology of an earlier earthly paradise, the proverbial Garden of Eden. Various versions of that story persist in cultures around the world. Why is that? Perhaps it rises from some race memory of such a prior union.”

Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars | Publisher: William Morrow | Pages: 416 | Source: Library | Buy on Amazon

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