The Devil Colony: A Sigma Force Novel, by James Rollins
Source (where I found out about it): My wife bought it
Kindle price: $12.99
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Author website: James Rollins
This is fiction in the truest sense of the word: a tall tale, a yarn, a leg-puller. If you have any sort of a rational sensibility grounded in fact, then be prepared to suspend your disbelief — time and time again.
That’s my main issue with this book and every James Rollins book I’ve read (three to date, including Altar of Eden and Map of Bones). He reaches so far beyond the reasonable it begins to feel childish to me and my interest wanes in the story. It enters the realm of fantasy. It’s too much to swallow — or at least it’s too much to swallow again. This will likely be my last James Rollins book.
Example: A Jewish temple built of gold in a subterranean chamber beneath Yellowstone National Park by the Anasazi.
Yeah. Right. Next.
Rollins almost carries it off. He turns it into a high-pressure, fast-paced romp (as he always does), with a ticking clock and a nest of nanotechnology robots (mastered by the Anasazi Jews, of course) that could destroy the world. It’s edge-of-the-seat breathtaking. It’s … so incredibly unbelievable I almost abandoned the book several times.
But I already said that.
From a writer’s perspective, what else did I see? Rollins injects just enough character development to sustain the plot and give a little depth to the story. But not much. He’s not a character kind of writer. He’s a plot guy. Who needs character development when you find a booby trap set by Anasazi Jews hundreds of years ago that could cause the human race to become extinct?
I try to pull lessons from the bestsellers. Here’s the best I can do:
- Mass market readers prefer a wild ride over veracity
- A hard- and fast-driving plot can let you scrimp on character development
- Physical motion is a key part of sustaining the wild ride
The best thing about James Rollins is that he’s the keynote speaker at the 2012 DFW Writers’ Conference, May 19-20. He is no doubt a master of his chosen craft, and we writers would be foolish to ignore his advice. I’ll certainly be there.