Book Review: The Bone Labyrinth

The Bone Labyrinth (Sigma Force #11)

A war is coming, a battle that will stretch from the prehistoric forests of the ancient past to the cutting-edge research labs of today, all to reveal a true mystery buried deep within our DNA, a mystery that will leave readers changed forever . . .

In this groundbreaking masterpiece of ingenuity and intrigue that spans 50,000 years in human history, New York Times bestselling author James Rollins takes us to mankind’s next great leap.

But will it mark a new chapter in our development . . . or our extinction?

In the remote mountains of Croatia, an archaeologist makes a strange discovery:  a subterranean Catholic chapel, hidden for centuries, holds the bones of a Neanderthal woman. In the same cavern system, elaborate primitive paintings tell the story of an immense battle between tribes of Neanderthals and monstrous shadowy figures. Who is this mysterious enemy depicted in these ancient drawings and what do the paintings mean?

Before any answers could be made, the investigative team is attacked, while at the same time, a bloody assault is made upon a primate research center outside of Atlanta. How are these events connected? Who is behind these attacks?  The search for the truth will take Commander Gray Pierce of Sigma Force 50,000 years into the past. As he and Sigma trace the evolution of human intelligence to its true source, they will be plunged into a cataclysmic battle for the future of humanity that stretches across the globe . . . and beyond.

With the fate of our future at stake, Sigma embarks on its most harrowing odyssey ever—a breathtaking quest that will take them from ancient tunnels in Ecuador that span the breadth of South America to a millennia-old necropolis holding the bones of our ancestors. Along the way, revelations involving the lost continent of Atlantis will reveal true mysteries tied to mankind’s first steps on the moon. In the end, Gray Pierce and his team will face to their greatest threat: an ancient evil, resurrected by modern genetic science, strong enough to bring about the end of man’s dominance on this planet.

Only this time, Sigma will falter—and the world we know will change forever.

Review:
I really wanted to like this book — it hit a lot of the right buttons for me. I was in the mood for a thriller, the story involves archaeology and Atlantis, there is action and adventure, and Rollins is a highly recommended, prolific author. But, despite all of my expectations, I only found the book OK.
The characters were good, the kind of tough guys you would expect in a thriller. I like that not all of the tough guys were “guys” — some were women too.
And you can’t fault Rollins on his research. It is clear from the early pages that he has researched all of the science and archaeology behind the book. That part really was interesting, thinking of the possibilities of Adam and Eve, a historical leap of intellect, and the presence of Atlantis. Great stuff.
But then there were the other things. I actually felt uncomfortable reading parts of this book. The big antagonist was basically all of China. There was no redeeming quality of anything Chinese. The whole country was depicted as inhumane, cut-throat, and immoral. I know there needs to be bad guys, but vilifying an entire country is not OK.
The writing, for the most part, was good. There did need to be more editing, however as there were a few occasions when a paragraph or description was repeated practically word for word within several pages. And much of Rollins’ research was presented in an info dump format — a character would go to the library and research then come back and tell everyone everything for several pages.
And, I couldn’t figure out from a story point of view, why Sigma Force took the people they were supposed to be protecting to Ecuador and put them in harm’s way. There needed to be a better rationale for going against their assignment of keeping these people safe than curiosity. From the book point of view, it was interesting and they learned a lot, but from a plot point of view the officers of Sigma Force were not doing their job by putting their charges in life threatening danger when there was no pressing need.
Overall, there was a lot to enjoy in The Bone Labyrinth, but I’m not sure I’ll be picking up another Sigma Force book soon.
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On Re-Watching The Commitments

I know it’s odd for me to be commenting on a movie here on my book blog, but The Commitments started off as a great book by Roddy Doyle. I have to say, though, that my first exposure to Roddy Doyle was through the movie, The Commitments. And, though not all book to movie adaptations work, this one is epic.

If you haven’t seen it, go watch it. The casting is amazing — the voices on these guy are phenomenal, and the music alone makes this a movie worth watching. It’s the story of a bunch of down-and-out Dubliners who decide to put a band together. They swear, they fight, their first gig is at the church hall for an anti drug rally. But they play music and they sing in between it all. It really is fantastic.

 

Watching this movie again has brought back some great memories. The Commitments came out in 1991 when I was broke and at university. I was fortunate enough to live in the Kitsalino area of Vancouver and we had this great, ancient theatre called, The Hollywood. You could tell that it had once been grand, with it’s huge marquis and red velvet seats. The seats, however, appeared to be original and, at the time, the velvet had been worn down, and you had to choose your seat wisely or have a spring in your leg the whole time.

However, I lived in walking distance to this place and they had the best deals on movies. I’m trying to remember now, but there was always a double feature starting at 7pm, which changed every week and it was $5 for both movies — and they even had a $2 Tuesday. These were films that had had their first runs in the mainstream theatres already, before they made their way to the B-runs. It was great.

 

One of my most vivid memories of going to this theatre was going to see The Commitments with a family friend of ours named Steve. Steve was a few years older than me, about 6’6″, and looked like someone you didn’t want to cross in a dark alley. We went to the theatre and sat at the back of the balcony — more legroom there. And, once the movie started, Steve lit up a cigarette. The theatre wasn’t crowded that night, but still, we were in a theatre. His one concession to me was to move to the side so that the smoke didn’t interfere with the film as we were right underneath the projection booth.

 

As it turned out, nothing happened and we enjoyed a fantastic movie — the music, swearing, and fighting was up both of our allies. The music really is phenomenal. I bought the CD at the time and still play it from time to time.

Here’s Mustang Sally from the movie:

 

And, after seeing this movie, I went in search of Roddy Doyle books and read all that I could get my hands on, The movie introduced me to a great author I might not otherwise have known about. I’ve enjoyed Roddy Doyle’s books for years — he writes for adults and children and works to promote literacy in Ireland. He’s got a great sense of humour and an engaging writing style. Could be time for me to pick up a new Roddy Doyle book and see what he’s been up to lately.

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Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

(Harry Potter #1)

by J.K. Rowling

This isn’t exactly a book review — it is so hard to review such an iconic book. This is more about the experience of re-reading Harry Potter after so many years.
Our local library is an amazing place, and this year, they have started a Book Geeks reading club aimed at adults, where our goal is to read and talk about one of the Harry Potter books each month. We had our first meeting earlier this month and it was so much fun. There was a group of us, all who were excited to geek out about Harry Potter.
I was an adult when Harry Potter first came out and I decided to pick it up because I knew I’d never be able to talk to my niece and nephew again if I didn’t because all of their conversation revolved around it. Instantly, I was hooked and raced through the books as they came out.
Re-reading The Philosopher’s Stone now was so much fun. I could look at what Rowling wrote in the context of the whole series and see the brilliance of it. Not only is it an entertaining and exciting book in it’s own right, full of interesting characters and battles between good and evil, but it set up the whole series. I was so impressed by things I would never have noticed all of those years ago, like mentions of characters important in the next books, and themes and story arcs that are integral to the whole series. Rowling’s vision for her series is masterful. I’ve recently heard that Rowling wrote the end of the last book before she ever wrote the first word of the first book — an impressive feat, but this certainly is what unifies the series so beautifully.
What is there to say, really? The Philosopher’s Stone, even 20 years after it was published, is still one of the best middle grade books out there. It is timeless. My daughter recently started reading this series herself and she is as excited about it now as my niece and nephew were all of those years ago.

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Summer 2017 Newsletter

Hello Everyone,

Happy Summer!!! I hope everyone is well and safe. Here in BC we have been hit with hot weather and forest fires, but I am proud to be part of a city that has stepped up to welcome thousands who have been displaced from their homes.The huge outpouring of kindness is inspiring.

Kick-Butt Princess Book Sale

I am excited to be taking part in a huge, multi author book sale for the week of July 17-21. Click on the image above to be taken to a page of authors who have written kick butt princess books, all of which are on sale for $.99 or are free. Now is the time to stock up on your summer reading of amazing, strong heroines who do the saving. You’ll find Prophecy there for $.99. I can’t wait to check them out myself.

Art in the Park:

On Canada Day, my writing group Books in the Belfry (you can find out more about us here on our web page), were fortunate enough to have a booth at our local Art in the Park. It was a fantastic, sunny day, filled with people coming to talk with us about books and writing. Thanks to everyone who stopped by.

Betrayed:

I’ve been spending most of my writing time these days polishing off my adult novel set in ancient Greece during the time of the Trojan War, Betrayed. I really love this book and can’t wait to finish it — it is about Queen Clytemnestra, twin sister to Helen of Troy. It combines my love of Greek myth with a phenomenal heroine and lots of strong emotions. It’s been a bit of a roller coaster to write, but well worth it.

New Writing Practice:

For those of you who are writers, I wanted to share a new writing practice that I’ve adopted that I am having some fun with. It is called “copywriting.” Basically, before writing every day, I sit and physically copy out a page or two from someone else’s work in an effort to learn new ways of writing. It’s actually something writer’s have been doing for a long time and something painters do — copy the masters. You can read my blog post about it here. I was in the mood for Thoreau’s essay On Civil Disobedience, so I’m starting with that. I also think it would be a fantastic way to get into the rhythm of poetry. So far I find it a great calming and centering exercise.

What I’m Reading:

Besides loading up my Kindle with Kick-Butt Princess books, I’ve been branching out in my reading this summer and I’m in the mood for thrillers. I’ve just started The Bone Labyrinth by James Rollins and it’s amazing so far. Does anyone have any other good recommendations — not too gory, though.

Well, that’s it for now. Hope you are enjoying your summer,
Take care,
Coreena McBurnie

 

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