The Last Oracle
Author: James Rollins
Published: 2008, Harper Collins, New York, NY
This is the first of these books I’ve read. And, it will be my last.
I was given this book as a gift; the blurb on the back of the book sounded very interesting so I had fairly high hopes starting into it. It’s an espionage thriller with a plot involving bioengineered autistic children, a threat to annihilate all the world leaders and replace them with one puppet controlled by an evil military regime, and mystic ties to an ancient civilization of oracles. Unfortunately, it’s just over-blown pulp fiction.
Rollins is an adequate writer; he keeps his story moving along in a nice, formulaic style. He has pretty good research backing up his plot, though it’s not as in-depth as say, Dan Brown’s. (The Da Vinci Code, Angels & Demons). Rollins, a considerably better structural writer that Mr. Brown, but lacks Brown’s creative imagination. His characters are merely wooden stereotypes. I think the most interesting one so far is the obviously twice-doomed Monk. Everyone else is just flat and uninteresting, even the children the evil Russians have experimented on. Which really, is quite sad, because you’d think with children involved, the emotion would be ramped up. Oh, and don’t forget the animals.
This book, as I’m presuming is the same with the others, was clearly written with the idea of a movie deal in mind. I can just see Nicholas Cage in the role of Commander Gray Pierce (are your eyes rolling?), Rollins’ steely eyed, square-jawed, university degree-d hero. Then add a big guy like The Rock to play his sidekick, Kowalski; a petite, little known blonde actress to play the smart, bookish though very attractive Dr. Elizabeth Polk, and a host of other lesser-known but recognizable actors to play the other assorted characters that overrun this story.
It’s your typical spy/thriller with lots of guns, swords, globe-trotting, ties to ancient history and racial stereotyping. Only the Americans are good enough/smart enough/resourceful enough to save the day. But wait! He does throw in an American villain or two — just to keep things kind of realistic, I guess.
The problem, for me, is that I could have liked this book if only some effort had been put into making me want to like it. it’s an interesting concept, but I’m reading it now simply to see if it plays out the way I’ve imagined it will. I’ve seen enough of these kinds of movies to have a pretty good idea of the outcome.
If you like books you can read with your eyes closed, then this one’s for you.