October 1, 2008 | Comments ()

By Brian Prisco | Books | October 1, 2008 |


James Rollins, not to be confused with the excellent Phillie, can be blamed on Dan Brown. When The Da Vinci Code came out, a whole slew of authors sort of came out of hiding in his wake, creating a series of semi-Indiana Jones-ish adventures, following the knights Templar, or seeking out grail memorabilia. The Spear of Destiny, the Holy Grail, the Shroud of Turin, the Apple of Discordia, basically anything that you hunted after when playing Wolfenstein. I read many of these, and they were spectacularly awful. Note to self, if it’s pimped by USA Today, it’s probably gonna suck a goat cock.

Well, Rollins was slightly better than most, because his group was called Sigma, and they were a top secret cabal of scientists who also had military training. You know, smart people who know how to use guns. Often, Rollins would pull a “Law & Order” when mixing his Kool-aid, take some semi-factual information or theory and use it to make his pulpy action. The stories were usually pretty entertaining, and involved the intrepid heroes of SIGMA battling against The Guild, their nefarious arch-rivals.

There’ve been like four SIGMA novels, and they’ve gotten progressively lamer. Well, The Last Oracle takes the cake. First of all, he completely abandons The Guild, except for an odiously bad attempt at a cliffhanger at the end of the book. Secondly, it’s as if he read a Discovery magazine article on autism got all excited, and just packed his novel full of the factoids. And while the source material does factor for some intriguing stuff, it doesn’t fit in his world of melodrama and cheesy action.

Rollins really overdoes it this time through, overdoing his usual overwrought sensationalism. He loves to write short paragraphs with what are supposed to be very deep thoughts but come off more like badly written suspense.

Then he writes a dunh-dunh-dunh.

What’s that? It’s a short sentence that’s supposed to pack a forceful wallop, but it’s really more like one of those moments in a bad television cop serial where someone makes a riveting statement and the music plays a dramatic swell. Gabrielle couldn’t have been sleeping with Bradley. Because he’s her son.

Or could she?

Dunh-dunh-dunh!

Rollins loads his books full of either those, or internal monologues that are shamefully leading. He’s assuming his audience is partially autistic themselves, and he keeps leading them by the nose just in case they can’t follow his typical fiction. It doesn’t surprise me in the least that he was capped the write the novelization of the newest Indiana Jones atrocity. He’s been essentially attempting to do that his entire career, especially with his early non-SIGMA novels.

The Last Oracle proposes that the Oracle of Delphi was actually a series of autistic savants who suffered from gas fume hallucinations, and then escaped to India to propagate the Gypsy race. Hence their abilities to fortune tell. All of which is allegedly true. In the novel, a Russian task force has harvested this bloodline of incestuous psychic gypsy children in order to use their autistic savantism to foretell world events and cause a cataclysmic world destruction by utilizing the radioactive fallout from Chernobyl. It’s SIGMA against this cabal, and it’s really weak storytelling of a really weak story. There’s zero drama, and there’s zero suspense. And this is even with the murder of a member of the SIGMA squad. It’s not even a payoff for anyone who’s been following the series. And the torrid love stories are getting really tepid and mediocre. It’s almost bad enough for me to relinquish my recommendation for people to read James Rollins. I seriously am not sure whether I’ll bother to continue the series anymore.

This review is part of the Cannonball Read series. You can read more about it, here.

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100 Books in One Year #10: The Last Oracle by James Rollins

Cannonball Read / Brian Prisco

Books | October 1, 2008 | Comments ()



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