This review is physically painful for me to write. James Rollins is my ultimate favorite author. I started reading his books many, many years ago (actually the same lady who initially told me about Outlander, and got me to read Clive Cussler, gave me my first Rollins book) and from the very first book I’ve been addicted. His series is wonderful, and always my fallback to how to properly write a good “hero” type character, and his stand alone’s are the perfect mix of reality and Sci-fi (I could go on forever about how amazing his books are, but basically, just go read them, all of them). So when I heard he was doing a series about Vampires, I was through the roof with excitement! My favorite author writing about my favorite monster? What could possibly go wrong!?
There are reasons I’m not a gambler.
When I saw a second name on the cover, I was a little concerned, but at the same time, intrigued. This can’t be a bad thing, right?
The story has Rollins common place science meets art history, and his constant race against time theme. It opens with a boy on vacation with his parents to Masada in Israel. While there, an earthquake hits and something is released and it kills everyone there. All of Rollins stories start with a bang, which is what got me so addicted to his stories, they hook you right away! The earthquake reveals a tomb with the mummified body of a little girl, which is how we meet all of our main characters: Erin Granger, an archaeologist; Father Rhun Korza, of the Vatican church; and Sergeant Jordan Stone. As akin to most of Rollins book, things go awry and the three are tossed together in a race to stay alive and ahead of the other group trying to find what was revealed with the tomb. A book believed to be written by Christ himself.
All of it made me so excited, being a student of English Lit and Art History (and just an all-around nerd), I know a fair bit about religious relics and historical places. So I love stories that surround the things I went to school for because I understand the references. I also minored in Biology (yeah, I know, Majored in Art, Minored in Biology, I can’t explain it either) so I understand a lot of the science in Rollins books. Understanding the source material is a big thing to me, it helps me relate to the story, and gives it this odd “what if?” feeling. I love stories that linger with you, either through amazing characters, or that nagging feeling that we don’t know our world as well as we think.
Rollins writing gives just enough description to understand what he’s trying to get across, but he leaves enough out to let your imagination go wild.
Men and women write very differently. Women tend to write more emotion, where men typically stick to physical actions. This is where I started to lose interest in the story. Awesome action, military involvement, and all the fun science-y stuff keeps getting pushed aside for Erin Grangers personal monologue. An odd romance starts between the three of them, and I found it actually pulled away from the fast pace of the story, and the potentially cool character just seemed like a whiny school-girl with a crush. Even Father Korza became an overly dramatic emo. It felt like one person was writing all the character interactions, and someone write everything else. It felt very disjointed to me.
Through the story the Sanguines, a secret order within the order of the Vatican, believed to be created by Christ himself, are introduced. I was clinging to the book because the history of these Vampires is actually really interesting, but it’s not enough to get me to read more of the series, and that breaks my heart because James Rollins is such an amazing author, I feel like I’ve failed him as a fan. The emotional aspect added in really took away, to me, from the action and intrigue, and actually made the characters really annoying. When Rollins writes romance into his books, I find myself cheering for the relationship. In this one it felt too ‘romance novel’ and unbelievable, and I really didn’t care about the relationship that was building.
That all being said, the idea behind it wasn’t bad. It is still an awesome book. I just wish Rollins had wrote it by himself. I would still recommend it to people who either like the romance novel trope, or are better than me and can look past it.