Friday, September 28, 2018

The Demon Crown (2018) by James ‘Rollins' Czajkowski, Book Review

The Demon Crown: A Sigma Force Novel (2018)
by James ‘Rollins' Czajkowski

I don't read novels that much. But when it comes to James Rollins – I can't resist it! He is a master novelist who can mix history (facts and myths), science (fiction and nonfiction), contemporary issues and adventure (and romance) all in one book. I like how the New York Times Book Review says about Rollins: "He is what you might end up with if you tossed Michael Crichton and Dan Brown into a particle accelerator together." Brilliant! Imagine, Crichton's Jurassic Park + Brown's Da Vinci Code = Rollins' Demon Crown. Reading this 577-pages novel was breath-taking and intellectually-satisfying experience. I didn't realize this morning that I flipped the last page at about 1.30am – and I haven't eaten yet!

What The Demon Crown is all about? Off the coast of Brazil, a team of scientists discovers a horror like no other, an island where all life has been eradicated, consumed and possessed by a species beyond imagination (and most fascinating!). Before they can report their discovery, a mysterious agency attacks the group, killing them all, save one, an entomologist, an expert on venomous creatures, Professor Ken Matsui from Cornell University. Strangest of all, this inexplicable threat traces back to a terrifying secret buried a century ago beneath the National Mall: a cache of bones preserved in amber. The artifact was hidden away by a cabal of scientists—led by Alexander Graham Bell—to protect humankind. But they dared not destroy it, for the object also holds an astonishing promise for the future: the very secret of life after death.

Yet, nothing stays buried forever. An ancient horror—dormant in the marrow of those preserved bones—is free once more, nursed and developed into a weapon of incalculable strength and malignancy, ready to wreak havoc on an unsuspecting world. A biological weapon! A pre-historic species of Hymenoptera discovered in the amber. "The Odokuro have been released," said Prof Ken Matsui, "Named after a Japanese demon – gashadokuro. Trust me, it's a most fitting name. I've been studying the species for the past 2 months. Its life cycle is beyond anything imaginable." Like the myth of Phoenix, it rises back to life from ashes… the Lazarus effect. To stop its spread, Commander Grayson Pierce of Sigma Force and the team must survive a direct attack on the island of Maui. They must decipher this deadly mystery and traces back the origin of it to the founding of the Smithsonian Institution. To be exact, they need to uncover who is James Smithson, a British Chemist, and why he founded the Smithsonian even though he never set foot in America.

With each new discovery, the menace they hunt is changing, growing, spreading—adapting and surviving every attempt to stop it from reconquering a world it once ruled. And each transformation makes it stronger… and smarter. Horror! "This novel," explained Rollins, "serves as a cautionary reminder that we are not living in the Age of Man, but rather—as has been true for over 400 million years—we are living in the Age of Insects. In fact, it is now hypothesized that insects contributed—if not led—to the extinction of the dinosaurs. How? You'll have to read the book for the shocking answer. But of course, this then begs the question concerning the insects' latest competitors for the earth's dwindling natural resources: Could we be their next target?" Must read!

[Ps: The last time I read Rollins' books is his collaboration with Rebecca Cantrell on the trilogy of The Order of Sanguines Series. To read CLICK HERE]

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