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Altar of Eden

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Baghdad falls . . . and armed men are seen looting the city zoo. Amid a hail of bullets, a concealed underground lab is ransacked--and something horrific is set loose upon the world. Seven years later, Louisiana state veterinarian Lorna Polk investigates an abandoned shipwrecked fishing trawler carrying exotic caged animals, part of a black market smuggling ring. But there Baghdad falls . . . and armed men are seen looting the city zoo. Amid a hail of bullets, a concealed underground lab is ransacked--and something horrific is set loose upon the world. Seven years later, Louisiana state veterinarian Lorna Polk investigates an abandoned shipwrecked fishing trawler carrying exotic caged animals, part of a black market smuggling ring. But there is something disturbingly wrong with these beasts--each an unsettling mutation of the natural order, all sharing one uncanny trait: incredibly heightened intelligence. Joining forces with U.S. Border Patrol Agent Jack Menard--a man who shares with her a dark and bloody past--Lorna sets out to uncover the truth about this strange cargo and the terrorist threat it poses. Because a beast escaped the shipwreck and is running amok--and what is about to be born upon the altar of Eden could threaten not only the future of the world but the very foundation of what it means to be human.


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Baghdad falls . . . and armed men are seen looting the city zoo. Amid a hail of bullets, a concealed underground lab is ransacked--and something horrific is set loose upon the world. Seven years later, Louisiana state veterinarian Lorna Polk investigates an abandoned shipwrecked fishing trawler carrying exotic caged animals, part of a black market smuggling ring. But there Baghdad falls . . . and armed men are seen looting the city zoo. Amid a hail of bullets, a concealed underground lab is ransacked--and something horrific is set loose upon the world. Seven years later, Louisiana state veterinarian Lorna Polk investigates an abandoned shipwrecked fishing trawler carrying exotic caged animals, part of a black market smuggling ring. But there is something disturbingly wrong with these beasts--each an unsettling mutation of the natural order, all sharing one uncanny trait: incredibly heightened intelligence. Joining forces with U.S. Border Patrol Agent Jack Menard--a man who shares with her a dark and bloody past--Lorna sets out to uncover the truth about this strange cargo and the terrorist threat it poses. Because a beast escaped the shipwreck and is running amok--and what is about to be born upon the altar of Eden could threaten not only the future of the world but the very foundation of what it means to be human.

30 review for Altar of Eden

  1. 4 out of 5

    Emma

    This book was absolute trash and I loved every second of it.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Mitch

    WHY are people rating this book so highly??? The characters were cardboard cutouts, the plot was obviously manipulated, the scenarios were so unlikely...the story was more like a series of explosions and gunfights loosely linked together until it finally expired. Having survived to the end, I know a lot more about weaponry and am reassured that one-dimensional good guys can only get wounded no matter how many rounds are fired per minute, while no-dimensional bad guys inevitably get something she WHY are people rating this book so highly??? The characters were cardboard cutouts, the plot was obviously manipulated, the scenarios were so unlikely...the story was more like a series of explosions and gunfights loosely linked together until it finally expired. Having survived to the end, I know a lot more about weaponry and am reassured that one-dimensional good guys can only get wounded no matter how many rounds are fired per minute, while no-dimensional bad guys inevitably get something sheared off by alligators, have their intestines toyed with by giant foxes, or get taken out by a reinforced baby crib. (I'm not exaggerating here, people.) Gosh, I hope I didn't spoil the book for anyone...wait- that's impossible! -Why does that phrase sound familiar? Oh yeah- it's because I used it a lot while reading this book. It's too bad really, because there were some interesting scientific ideas buried under tons of written rubble. No amount of excavation could get them out in time, though. This book is best read while recovering from a lobotomy.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Kim

    I really liked this book! It is a quick read. I picked it up just to take a look and read seven chapters before I put it back down. I highly recommend all of James Rollins books, but "Altar of Eden" is definitely my favorite. I really liked this book! It is a quick read. I picked it up just to take a look and read seven chapters before I put it back down. I highly recommend all of James Rollins books, but "Altar of Eden" is definitely my favorite.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Keri

    Lorna is innocently driving to work in Louisiana one morning after a strong storm thinking of how her day is going to go. However, once she gets to work, she finds that she has been told that she is going out to inspect a ship-wrecked boat. What??? She is a vet, what do they need her for? Once she gets there however, she not only has to deal with Jack, a dark and sexy Border Patrol agent from her deep and painful past, she also has to deal with some animals on the ship. Not just any animals mind Lorna is innocently driving to work in Louisiana one morning after a strong storm thinking of how her day is going to go. However, once she gets to work, she finds that she has been told that she is going out to inspect a ship-wrecked boat. What??? She is a vet, what do they need her for? Once she gets there however, she not only has to deal with Jack, a dark and sexy Border Patrol agent from her deep and painful past, she also has to deal with some animals on the ship. Not just any animals mind, special animals the kind that creep into your nightmares at night and make you scream. So begins her and Jack's attempt to find out who, what and where about the animals. The only problem is, the owners know full well where the animals are at and have now sent their own animal in order to get them back. As Lorna and Jack enter the race to not only find answers they also have to figure out how to capture the animal that has escaped and headed toward population. Never mind the animal zeroing in on their location, ready to make a capture of its own. It is not very often I get a warm fuzzy when I finish a horror/suspense book, for this one I did. JR has a way of taking a situation one may hear about in the news and turning it into a heck of a great story. Your heart is in your throat most of the time and I wanted to go check my windows and doors more than once. Not that it matters to these animals. I also love the thread of romance that JR has running through the story. It is light, but more feelings than touching and kissing, but it was sweet and very fitting for the story. Yes, I wanted more of an ending for Lorna and Jack, but after all it was wrote by a man not a woman, so I will take what I can get. If you don't often read horror suspense, this may be a book to get your feet wet with. I didn't feel that it was overly graphic as much as scary interesting. It is also a standalone and not apart of a series. As good as this book was though, Amazonia still remains my favorite of his and I am jonesing for some Painter Crowe and Gray Pierce.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Doug

    My first glimpse into James Rollins occurred around 2006. I was managing an overstock bookstore at the time—Book Gallery—and a customer came in asking if we had any of Rollins's works. We had two—Amazonia and Ice Hunt—that he already had read, and so I personally picked them up and brought them home to drop on my never ending and ephemerally conceptualized to-read list. Why? Because he had used such phrases as "like Michael Crichton but way more exciting" and "seriously the best novels!" Phrases My first glimpse into James Rollins occurred around 2006. I was managing an overstock bookstore at the time—Book Gallery—and a customer came in asking if we had any of Rollins's works. We had two—Amazonia and Ice Hunt—that he already had read, and so I personally picked them up and brought them home to drop on my never ending and ephemerally conceptualized to-read list. Why? Because he had used such phrases as "like Michael Crichton but way more exciting" and "seriously the best novels!" Phrases that are the review equivalent of mixed metaphors, for sure, a hint of an adrenalin junkie's addiction aimed at words and plot; but nevertheless phrases of unwavering praise. To say Altar of Eden is the Michael Bay equivalent of a novel is perhaps inaccurate, but I think it will suffice. We are talking of a book that includes four primary scenes of pyrotechnics, each roughly a stage up from the last, along with multiple helicopters and gun porn mixed in with those good [with firearms and the ladies] soldiers who somehow put personal ethics in front of the rules but don't end up court-martialled. Toss in some elementary level morality lessons with a heavy handed double-thick icing of Christian iconography at key times, and there you go. What's missing? Well, that's simple, you just need a blonde (redhaired also acceptable) female scientist with an emotional roadblock in her past and a general vacancy next to her heart and a smoldering, swarthy military type man with his own emotional upheaval and a soft inside wrapped around his tough, down-to-business exterior. And he has to save her. Top off the whole thing with bad guys largely described by (a) their disrespect for women and (b) the disregard for the sanctity of motherhood and children and you have a complete package. To explain, or to at least elaborate, on what I am saying, let's take a look at a scene at an alligator farm early on in the novel. A group of boyscouts are staying over. An escaped genetic experiment is on its way. A scientist from a project designed to preserve endangered species, who is also knowledgeable about big predators, is with a group of special forces types trying to intercept. Except before they get to the farm, two boats are capsized and set fire to the water and woods around it. Now they have to penetrate the flames while avoiding the genetically augmented killing machine. Fastforward past the point where they have accomplished a portion of this. They are bringing in a copter, of course, when a would-be rapist life-long bully and beneficiary of nepotism comes out with an automatic shotgun, trips, and shoots the helicopter carrying good guys out of the air. Leading to another crash. There is more to that scene, but I'll leave it be. I guess I should give some semblance of a plot. Ok. A boat load of genetic freak animals crashes down south of New Orleans. Some of the animals are rescued by Lorna Polk, the aforementioned blonde scientist with emotional roadblocks past. She brought on board by Jack Menard (soldering 'n swarthy). They find that at least one of the experiments has escaped, a massive killing machine, and start to hunt it (see above alligator farm on flames). By this time, they are in up to their neck and people with deep pockets and a lack of morals (and a total disrespect for the sanctity of motherhood) need them out of the way. All leading to an island-based battle between men with guns, down-home boys from the bayou with guns, not so much evil as just following orders scientists, horribly scarred, women-disrespecting men with bigger guns and explosives, and preternaturally intelligent animals and ape-things. It's nearly too much book for its circa 500 pages, and barely enough actual story to fill a YA adult novel half that size. But people who want to read this aren't in it for the story, in the way that someone who rereads Howard's End for the third time are picking at the story for subtly missed details. They are in it for the story in the way that every explosion, ever heart-racing glance at a would-be lover, and every boat speeding to save the day is a story in its own right. This is a novel of events, peopled by characters you have met a dozen times before with different names, and building up to a big idea that can be summed up simply as where money meets human hubris. In the midst of this you get speeches about science gone awry and the power of life. And if you thought I was describing Ian Malcolm in Jurassic Park, you are getting the point of the "seen before" sentence. Perhaps the single biggest misstep is allowing key points in the book to have some of the worst writing, apparently trying to focus more on the flow behind the words being considered more important the words itself. That, and having the brilliant scientist's eyes go wide as she finds out about fractals, a concept she has apparently never heard of before, and then even wider as a computer draws triangles on a screen. With all my sarcasm aside, it's a readable book, even if you have to sometimes take the lumps with the gravy. It doesn't take long, and at worst is only truly bad in a half-dozen places and it is good in about as many. With a beer in the other hand a beach in front of you, this might be a great book. Otherwise, maybe think of it is as Fair if what you are after is action and a way to pass the time. If what you are looking for is something more groundbreaking, better paced, and better written, you might need to drop that a peg.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Siobhan

    I’ve heard many good things about James Rollins and have had his books recommended to me on numerous occasions, but it took me a while before I finally picked one up. After reading Altar of Eden, I’ll certainly be devouring many of his other books. With Altar of Eden, we have a thriller with a science-fiction edge, something I adore. It was not perfect – there were some elements I saw coming from early on and there were some aspects that were a bit too farfetched – but the action had me powering I’ve heard many good things about James Rollins and have had his books recommended to me on numerous occasions, but it took me a while before I finally picked one up. After reading Altar of Eden, I’ll certainly be devouring many of his other books. With Altar of Eden, we have a thriller with a science-fiction edge, something I adore. It was not perfect – there were some elements I saw coming from early on and there were some aspects that were a bit too farfetched – but the action had me powering through to see how everything came together. With each page I turned, I was pulled in deeper and I found myself finishing this one quickly. With plenty of action and a gripping storyline, Altar of Eden has me eager to read more James Rollins.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Marvin

    As far as airport novels go, this book was a sleeper...the kind that literally puts you to sleep. That's an odd thing to say about a book that has some of the loudest prose I've ever read, the kind that shouts, shoots, and explodes on every page. But I found it rather dull. I liked the premise and there was a nice amount of science-babble in it. Yet Rollin's cardboard characters with their TV formula problems bored me. This is the first Rollins novel I've read. I know a number of people who like As far as airport novels go, this book was a sleeper...the kind that literally puts you to sleep. That's an odd thing to say about a book that has some of the loudest prose I've ever read, the kind that shouts, shoots, and explodes on every page. But I found it rather dull. I liked the premise and there was a nice amount of science-babble in it. Yet Rollin's cardboard characters with their TV formula problems bored me. This is the first Rollins novel I've read. I know a number of people who like his brand of techno-thriller but he comes across to me as a poor man's Micheal Crichton.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Yona

    Another great book by James Rollins . I love how in his books there are always adventure but a little romance as well. And facts, for example how the brain can produce enough electricity all the time to feed a flashlight. Lorna and Jack were very strong character, but I liked all the side ones too. When you read you enjoy the book, you feel what the characters feels, you learn new things and it's like you are there. The author is that good. Another great book by James Rollins . I love how in his books there are always adventure but a little romance as well. And facts, for example how the brain can produce enough electricity all the time to feed a flashlight. Lorna and Jack were very strong character, but I liked all the side ones too. When you read you enjoy the book, you feel what the characters feels, you learn new things and it's like you are there. The author is that good.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Suspense Magazine

    Writing plots and intricate characters that virtually reach out to snare like tentacles, Rollins continues to stagger us with his mind-blowing style in the introduction of his stand-alone thriller, “Altar of Eden”. Beautifully crafted and set in the backcountry of Louisiana, it only takes a small squint of the eyes to see the landscape unfurl as Rollins words progress. When veterinarian Lorna Polk is summoned to the scene of an abandoned shipwreck, she couldn’t have been prepared for the shock w Writing plots and intricate characters that virtually reach out to snare like tentacles, Rollins continues to stagger us with his mind-blowing style in the introduction of his stand-alone thriller, “Altar of Eden”. Beautifully crafted and set in the backcountry of Louisiana, it only takes a small squint of the eyes to see the landscape unfurl as Rollins words progress. When veterinarian Lorna Polk is summoned to the scene of an abandoned shipwreck, she couldn’t have been prepared for the shock when she encounters an individual from her painful past and a vessel crammed with exotic animals. Each, a slightly unnatural version of a recognizable beast has an obvious and extraordinary intelligence. These animals—now orphans of the storm—are an incredible find even after the collective realization that a modern day monster, a female jaguar with the teeth of a saber tooth and a hungry cub, is on the loose. As the mission morphs into a hunt for the beast, the company that stands to lose all is taking no prisoners and leaving no evidence. They will not allow anyone to discover the truth behind their life’s work even while it threatens the very fabric of our world. Teeming with creativity, Rollins’ mix of the wide-ranging worlds of suspense and science equal a perfect cocktail to satisfy anyone’s literary palette. Reviewed by Shannon Raab with Suspense Magazine www.suspensemagazine.com

  10. 5 out of 5

    Michael Adamchuk

    I wasn't too impressed with this one. The first half was setting the stage for what was to come and was mostly the characters attempting to eliminate a throwback creature. The remainder of the novel involves genetic manipulation for military purposes. There were some novel science/medical ideas involved besides actual gene manipulation. I was unaware that humans have magnetite crystals in their brains. The stated use and purpose of them in the novel was interesting. I wasn't too impressed with this one. The first half was setting the stage for what was to come and was mostly the characters attempting to eliminate a throwback creature. The remainder of the novel involves genetic manipulation for military purposes. There were some novel science/medical ideas involved besides actual gene manipulation. I was unaware that humans have magnetite crystals in their brains. The stated use and purpose of them in the novel was interesting.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Amy Rogers

    ScienceThrillers.com review: Altar of Eden is a stand-alone novel, not part of Rollins’ popular Sigma Force series. It bears his signature strengths: a strong, believable female character, and best-in-the-business action sequences. Altar of Eden adds two things to the Rollins repertoire: a veterinarian protagonist and vivid scenes + characters in the Louisiana bayou. But overall, in my opinion Altar of Eden is not James Rollins’ finest work. His weaker books are still better than most writers’ be ScienceThrillers.com review: Altar of Eden is a stand-alone novel, not part of Rollins’ popular Sigma Force series. It bears his signature strengths: a strong, believable female character, and best-in-the-business action sequences. Altar of Eden adds two things to the Rollins repertoire: a veterinarian protagonist and vivid scenes + characters in the Louisiana bayou. But overall, in my opinion Altar of Eden is not James Rollins’ finest work. His weaker books are still better than most writers’ best, so if you’re a fan, read and enjoy Altar of Eden. But if you have not yet discovered the thrill of reading a really good James Rollins novel, start with a different title. The main shortcoming of this book is a somewhat disjointed plot. The novel is divided into three distinct sections, which is fine, except I felt they didn’t flow together into a unified whole. Act One, “First Blood,” has a terrific opening sequence with plenty of action and mystery but gets bogged down in a too-lengthy scene set in a swamp. Again plenty of action, but I missed an overall sense of real threat; the hunt through the swamp is a distraction from the main story line and the evil behind it. When the real bad guys are revealed, their actions are clearly evil but the more the reader learns, the more those actions seem ridiculous. I never did quite understand how their unethical, bizarre machinations could have any military applications, nor was it clear to me how much manipulation the people had done and how much was due to the mysterious virus. Parent alert: Altar of Eden contains more profanity than most Rollins novels (all the language is character-appropriate and used well). Be aware that abortion is a plot element. It is not prominent, politicized, or inflammatory, but if you don’t want to even go there, I’m giving you a “heads up.” Biohazard rating: 3 out of 5. Science is part of the plot, but as is typical of Rollins novels, the tech wanders from science into speculative fiction. I’d say the science in this one is even more loosey-goosey than usual; I’m having a hard time coming up with a list of key words. The story does touch on junk DNA, bioweapons, latent viruses, biomagnets, animal behavior, extinction, EEGs, coma (though not always with depth or clarity). In this novel, Rollins finally explores some veterinary medicine–for this veterinarian/author, home turf that he has largely avoided in his other books.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Michelle♥

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Get to the Chopper!!!! PSSHUEJKFFMG! Gunfire! More Gunfire! The CHOPPER! Yeah, that's my impersonation of Arnold. Ok moving on... Ok so...this book kept me turning the pages, that's for sure. But was I really all that excited about it? Did I really want to see how things turned out? No, not really. Yes, this was typical Rollins with mixing DARPA, science, weapons, and a lot of scientific jargon. BUT, and this is a major "but" for me, he incorporated animals into this one WAY too much! Similar to on Get to the Chopper!!!! PSSHUEJKFFMG! Gunfire! More Gunfire! The CHOPPER! Yeah, that's my impersonation of Arnold. Ok moving on... Ok so...this book kept me turning the pages, that's for sure. But was I really all that excited about it? Did I really want to see how things turned out? No, not really. Yes, this was typical Rollins with mixing DARPA, science, weapons, and a lot of scientific jargon. BUT, and this is a major "but" for me, he incorporated animals into this one WAY too much! Similar to one of the SIGMA Force novels, the name of it escapes me at this point, but it was the one with the menagrie of animals, Chernobyl, and mutated kids, he incorporated animals being mutated, their genetics being messed with. SPOILER! I can't believe he almost made me think that Burt was dead! I KNEW that he wouldn't have let that happen, but c'mon. Even that fathom of a doubt kind of pissed me off. And besides, I hated the fact that the jaguar and her cub had to die. After the point of Lorna, did not like that name by the way, being captured, and finding out they were not only tinkering with animals' lives but with humans, it was just too far fetched for me. Yeah, I wanted to see where it lead and how the story mircalously ended, but I did not care for the fact that the mutated and regressed furry humans worked together with the "good" humans. Just to much beyond belief at that point. I literally had to laugh at it. I did not like how it got twisted that way on the islands of Eden. Totally NOT what I thought this book was going to be about. Really just wanted another SIGMA force novel. Yes, it was nice to see that Rollins actually utilized his veternanian skills in writing one of this books, but we normally see that with his other books. There's always an animal in there somewhere. Not his best, and definitely NOT worth a re-read.

  13. 4 out of 5

    TJ

    While "Altar of Eden" isn't on the same level of interest and/or quality for this reviewer as the earliest novels (i.e. "Amazonia", "Ice Hunt", and "Subterranean") written by author James Rollins, his fans will enjoy this imaginative and action-filled book, nonetheless. The novel creates an interesting plot that's connected to reality in a few ways (which Rollins carefully points out at the end of the book). The premise revolves around experimentation on animals and humans in order to create the While "Altar of Eden" isn't on the same level of interest and/or quality for this reviewer as the earliest novels (i.e. "Amazonia", "Ice Hunt", and "Subterranean") written by author James Rollins, his fans will enjoy this imaginative and action-filled book, nonetheless. The novel creates an interesting plot that's connected to reality in a few ways (which Rollins carefully points out at the end of the book). The premise revolves around experimentation on animals and humans in order to create the "perfect army". Rollins does a credible job of encouraging the reader to buy into the fantastic plot. The main characters, veterinarian Lorna Polk and US Border Patrol agent Jack Menard stumble on to the scheme and spend the bulk of the book attempting to stop the plan before it comes into fruition. Rollins, like his fellow thriller compatriot, Matthew Reilly, knows how to keep the plot moving, impresses the reader with a bunch of exotic weaponry, while continually pouring on the action throughout the book. The book is hindered somewhat by some wooden characters, but the sheer magnitude of action keeps "Altar of Eden" moving toward a satisfying conclusion. NOTE: this is not a Sigma Force adventure which this reader found especially appealing. 3 and 1/2 stars.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Fred Rayworth

    I was happy when his new book came out and not at all disappointed that it wasn't part of his previous series. He started out in the business with individual stories, and for Altar of Eden, he returned to his roots. Being a veterinarian, it is not surprising he wrote a story about animals. What I liked about his earlier books was that he incorporated weird animals (or as I call them, "icky bugs") into the story. In this case, the icky bugs are genetically modified mutant animals (of various spec I was happy when his new book came out and not at all disappointed that it wasn't part of his previous series. He started out in the business with individual stories, and for Altar of Eden, he returned to his roots. Being a veterinarian, it is not surprising he wrote a story about animals. What I liked about his earlier books was that he incorporated weird animals (or as I call them, "icky bugs") into the story. In this case, the icky bugs are genetically modified mutant animals (of various species) and a few surprises. The story is well plotted out and I really liked the cast of characters, from the hero and heroine to the baddest of the bad guys. The bit of redemption for one character at the end was a twist I didn't see coming. This is also a very well-written story. He keeps his chapters and paragraphs short and to the point, and the story moves very well. I was able to read it during commercials without getting lost in the middle of a chapter. However, in this case, I read most of the book while waiting to get the brakes done on my car. It made the time pass fast and I had one great time sitting in that waiting room. James also knows how to write with modern "rules" which is something many other authors could pick up on. The POV's are always right there, and you have no doubt who is driving each scene. The grammar, punctuation and syntax are virtually perfect, and there is no author intrusion. Altar of Eden was a thoroughly enjoyable read with never a dull moment. I highly recommend it.

  15. 4 out of 5

    obsessedwithbooks

    I have mentioned many times that novels with themes of technology and science rock my world and James Rollins is one of my absolute favorite action/adventure authors who incorporates these themes. Normally I'm enraptured by the scientific theories Rollins includes in his novels, but in Altar of Eden I felt I was at times being lectured to about the science rather the than the story evolving from the science (this was even more apparent after comparing Altar of Eden to Awakening by S. J. Bolton, I have mentioned many times that novels with themes of technology and science rock my world and James Rollins is one of my absolute favorite action/adventure authors who incorporates these themes. Normally I'm enraptured by the scientific theories Rollins includes in his novels, but in Altar of Eden I felt I was at times being lectured to about the science rather the than the story evolving from the science (this was even more apparent after comparing Altar of Eden to Awakening by S. J. Bolton, which incorporates scientific knowledge as well, but with a more natural feel than in this novel). Maybe it was because Altar of Eden was a departure from Rollins' Sigma series that I felt this way. Other than this aspect of the novel though, I appreciated the story even though it was a bit more far out than usual for Rollins. The main characters were multi-faceted, interesting, resourceful and pulled at my emotions. Read if you are a Rollins fan but if you have never read Rollins before, I would not start with this novel. http://myobsessionwithbooks.blogspot.com

  16. 4 out of 5

    Claudia

    Rollins was one of the authors I found as I waited for Dan Brown to write another book. I LOVE this guy...fast paced, almost plausible, with characters I care about. This one is not about the Sigma Team but the setting of New Orleans and the swamps made up for the loss of my team. Lorna is a vet working to clone endangered animals and is brought in as a consultant to examine some strange 'wrong' animals left abandoned from a supposed animal smuggling ring...Wrong...as parrots with no feathers, a Rollins was one of the authors I found as I waited for Dan Brown to write another book. I LOVE this guy...fast paced, almost plausible, with characters I care about. This one is not about the Sigma Team but the setting of New Orleans and the swamps made up for the loss of my team. Lorna is a vet working to clone endangered animals and is brought in as a consultant to examine some strange 'wrong' animals left abandoned from a supposed animal smuggling ring...Wrong...as parrots with no feathers, a huge jaguar with long, razor-sharp teeth, resembling a sabre tooth tiger...something is definitely not right. Border Patrol Jack Menard must put aside his feelings about Lorna, who may have caused the death of his younger brother,and Lorna must fight her anger and guilt...they have a bigger enemy than the past. This book goes far into areas about which I know nothing...genetics, junk DNA, bio-tech warfare. The bad guys are as bad as any you'll read. Whispers of The Island of Dr. Moreau makes this book creepy-chilling. A great read just for me!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Gloria Piper

    Someone is playing God, creating throwbacks of super intelligence. To what purpose? To fight wars? The Polks and the Menards don't get along because of something that happened between them several years earlier. Nevertheless Lorna Polk, state veterinarian, must join Border Patrol Agent Jack Menard to stop the invasion of deadly mutants and to discover the source of their origin. The rift between the Polks and Menards mends, which is no surprise. What surprises us is the outcome of the investigat Someone is playing God, creating throwbacks of super intelligence. To what purpose? To fight wars? The Polks and the Menards don't get along because of something that happened between them several years earlier. Nevertheless Lorna Polk, state veterinarian, must join Border Patrol Agent Jack Menard to stop the invasion of deadly mutants and to discover the source of their origin. The rift between the Polks and Menards mends, which is no surprise. What surprises us is the outcome of the investigation, with its unexpected twists along the way. Here is a thriller with plenty of mayhem as our heroes struggle to survive overwhelming odds. A touch of character development gives us some understanding of the heroes and the villains. It adds depth and more thrill to the story. I particularly liked some minor characters, such as the Thibodeaux brothers and the mutant gray parrot.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Alexa Whitewolf

    Entertaining from start to finish!! Couldn't put it down. Entertaining from start to finish!! Couldn't put it down.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Patrick Gibson

    Our favorite veterinarian follow-up writer (he followed-up numerous Cussler novels with ‘Subterranean’ and ‘Sahara;’ and followed-up Dan Brown with ‘Map of Bones’) has now chosen to ride the coattails of Crichton (it’s okay this time, since ‘Next’ wasn’t very good). At least his take on genetic engineering doesn’t include dinosaurs. Although—there is one nasty saber-tooth pussycat keeping the first act moving along. Yes, our theater-challenged author has titled his sections ‘Acts.’ In deference Our favorite veterinarian follow-up writer (he followed-up numerous Cussler novels with ‘Subterranean’ and ‘Sahara;’ and followed-up Dan Brown with ‘Map of Bones’) has now chosen to ride the coattails of Crichton (it’s okay this time, since ‘Next’ wasn’t very good). At least his take on genetic engineering doesn’t include dinosaurs. Although—there is one nasty saber-tooth pussycat keeping the first act moving along. Yes, our theater-challenged author has titled his sections ‘Acts.’ In deference to Tennessee Williams I suppose. The third act takes place on a jungle island populated with genetic mutants so guess this is a follow-up to H. G. Wells. It’s all good. Mix these ideas together and you come up with an adequate techno/SciFi/thriller starring an obligatory macho hero with a past, falling for the weak-yet-dedicated heroine doctor who shares the same past with the hero, only not realizing it until the two are locked into a perilous situation. Hey, it happens to all of us at one time or another. The villain, out of Jurassic Park, is cloning bio-weapons instead of prehistoric critters. He has deep pockets so every state-of-the-art gizmo magically appears at his finger tips and . . . here’s the best part … a secret mysterious fortified island. Oh yah. The testosterone infused hero gets the shit beat out of him numerous times, infected with a killer virus, blown up, dropped from a helicopter, attacked by alligators, burned alive in an exploding truck, and goes without sleep for at least three days. That last part is a killer … what, no sleep? You have got to be kidding. Yet he continually rebounds with no consideration to his wounds (hey, come on, he’s at least got to be a little sore) and saves the day. Over, and over again. And he has every powerful weapon known to man available at his fingertips. It’s a ‘fingertip’ situation all the way around. I liked it. What can I say? The author writes some pretty laugh-out-loud-when-you’re-not-supposed-too dialogue and has this very annoying habit of pulling out of the story by making author comments. I would like to say to him ‘who the fuck is your editor? Get a new one – like maybe someone who will actually read your book and take the dorky shit out.’ There are a couple great scenes. Putting a group of boy scouts on a sleepover at an alligator farm with some rangy mutants in the middle of a Louisiana Bayou was an excellent set up for some gory moments. Thanks for that one. In this book, the author is at his best when explaining some complicated science or math. When he went off on Fractals it became instantly interesting. But this is a thriller, not a science class. Action of the most absurd kind must ensue. It does. And it’s fun. Kind of like an entire meal of Baskin Robbins—including a little brain freeze.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Matt Schiariti

    Wow. It amazes me how much work James Rollins turns out in such a short period of time and each effort it just fantastic. I didn't even realize this one was coming out so short after The Doomsday Key was released and it's scary how he can write such high quality novels in such short order. The plot of the book has been summarized by many reviewers before me so I'll spare reiterating what's already been said. What I WILL say though is that this is about as good as thriller/mystery as you're likely Wow. It amazes me how much work James Rollins turns out in such a short period of time and each effort it just fantastic. I didn't even realize this one was coming out so short after The Doomsday Key was released and it's scary how he can write such high quality novels in such short order. The plot of the book has been summarized by many reviewers before me so I'll spare reiterating what's already been said. What I WILL say though is that this is about as good as thriller/mystery as you're likely to read. Filled wonderful characters you'll be pulling for against all odds and villains who are creepy yet brilliant and ruthless, it's definitely more than just a mindless action book. No, Rollins is better than that. What sets him apart from others in the genre is that despite the action and the ties between real science and creative input, he really knows how to write a character you grow to care for be it villain or hero. This was also a nice departure from the Sigma Force series. I also love those novels as well, but Rollins' one offs are always very good as well (Amazonia and Deep Fathom being two of my favorite of his novels). I was refreshed to find a book full of new and interesting characters. While taking creative license, James Rollins always builds upon a solid foundation of real life science, locations and actual institutions. For example, the ACRES facility that Laura works for is NOT made up. It's a real scientific institution doing the actual work that Rollins describes in the book. Rollins is just scary good. It sure seems that he's got a bottomless well of ideas to draw from and he sure knows how to put those ideas on a page. Fast, tightly plotted and at times, VERY creepy. If you like books by Authors by Preston& Child, Crichton and Steve Alten, don't miss out on Altar of Eden. And if this is your first foray into the world of James Rollins I think you'll be fast seeking out his previous works from the very beginning.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Louisa

    Oh, really fantastic book! Loved these characters, this story, and how it all came together! Great, and really enjoyed it! *First read July 9th 2011* These books, wow. I just loved them! They were just awesome!!! They had Rollin's typical blend of history, science, and jam-packed adventure, and it was just the perfect blend to make them easy, fast, and fun reads that were suspenseful to the very last word. These books had the trademarks of Rollin's work, and the anticipation for the books to come o Oh, really fantastic book! Loved these characters, this story, and how it all came together! Great, and really enjoyed it! *First read July 9th 2011* These books, wow. I just loved them! They were just awesome!!! They had Rollin's typical blend of history, science, and jam-packed adventure, and it was just the perfect blend to make them easy, fast, and fun reads that were suspenseful to the very last word. These books had the trademarks of Rollin's work, and the anticipation for the books to come out was intense, well, at least for me. That's why I got 2 of his books (these ones) with my birthday money. I had to read them! (And I couldn't afford Altar of Eden when it was in hardcover, but I could afford the big paperback with The Devil Colony since that's the format that I've gotten the Sigma series in since The Judas Strain) ) I loved the characters, and how they made their decisions, and how each action had a reaction, to which there was another action, and so the cycle went onwards. I really loved how the science and the history were combined in each book, more obvious in The Devil Colony with the founding of America, and more subtle in Altar of Eden, Eden, the place where Adam and Eve lived before the snake and the apple (Which just happens to be on the cover of my copy, 3 of the 4, no snake, thank goodness, I hate snakes. Whoops, never mind, there is a snake there) These were really good books, ones that I enjoyed reading, and ones that I hope you guys check out, James Rollins is a really great author!!!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Beth

    ALTAR OF EDEN by James Rollins is a science thriller. And it's a good one. That's because the science is based on reality even while the story is fiction. Do you remember back when the war in Iraq began, and animals at the Baghdad Zoo escaped and suffered? That's where ALTAR OF EDEN begins. It seems that something is going on there, something hidden. Rollins only hints, and other readers can surmise what they want, but my immediate suspicion was the suspicion at the time: biological warfare. The b ALTAR OF EDEN by James Rollins is a science thriller. And it's a good one. That's because the science is based on reality even while the story is fiction. Do you remember back when the war in Iraq began, and animals at the Baghdad Zoo escaped and suffered? That's where ALTAR OF EDEN begins. It seems that something is going on there, something hidden. Rollins only hints, and other readers can surmise what they want, but my immediate suspicion was the suspicion at the time: biological warfare. The book continues in New Orleans. Apparently, someone is genetically altering animals. Who? Why? And to what ends will they go to keep their project secret? The Border Patrol and a veterinarian at the Audubon Center for Research of Endangered Species (a real facility) star in this mystery post-Hurricane Katrina. Their discoveries about animal intelligence are real as are the hunting habits of jaguars and so much of the science discussed. Maybe the most important scientific fact Rollins presents in this book is the bond between humans and animals. This is one of the themes throughout the book, especially in Parts 2 and 3. This bond is proven fact, although this story takes the bonding to fictitious places and stretches it. Rollins is a veterinarian. But he writes thrillers, not animal stories. Still, I hope to find more animal science in his other books. Sciencethrillers.com says that they are even better than ALTAR OF EDEN. So I look forward to checking them out. Thank you, sciencethrillers.com, for sending ALTAR OF EDEN to me.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Dina Rodrigues

    James Rollins never fails to satisfy..

  24. 4 out of 5

    Martin Pingree

    This was a lot of fun to read. Jurassic Park story line with a lot more violence but an outstanding cast of characters keeps you reading to the end.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Benjamin Cross

    This is my favourite JR novel. It contains all of the elements I enjoy in an action-thriller: a fast pace, intrigue, historical events impacting upon the present day, plenty of creatures, a good balance of science and pseudo-science, and of course some all-out, gut-busting action sequences. Yes, most of JR's novels contain the same elements, but it's the concept behind Altar of Eden that drops it on top of the pile for me (probably not least due to the inclusion of a prehistoric thread...) It won This is my favourite JR novel. It contains all of the elements I enjoy in an action-thriller: a fast pace, intrigue, historical events impacting upon the present day, plenty of creatures, a good balance of science and pseudo-science, and of course some all-out, gut-busting action sequences. Yes, most of JR's novels contain the same elements, but it's the concept behind Altar of Eden that drops it on top of the pile for me (probably not least due to the inclusion of a prehistoric thread...) It won't be for everyone. The prose is basic (its meant to be), characterisation is there, but isn't a priority (it's not meant to be), and there is a certain quantum of 'tell' rather than 'show' (that's par for the course for a genre fiction action-thriller). In effect, if you are after literary fiction then you may well not get on with this book. If you are after an edge-of-your-seat page-turner, however, then I would highly recommend.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Brett T

    San Diego veterinarian James Paul Czajkowski sold his first manuscript when fantasy mainstay Terry Brooks was one of the judges in a writing contest he won. But an obvious problem loomed, so he wrote under the pen name James Clemens. As Clemens, Czajkowski wrote a fantasy series called The Banned and the Banished. He adopted another pen name for some standalone techno-thrillers and the SIGMA Force series, and it's under that name of James Rollins that we meet him here with 2010's Altar of Eden. H San Diego veterinarian James Paul Czajkowski sold his first manuscript when fantasy mainstay Terry Brooks was one of the judges in a writing contest he won. But an obvious problem loomed, so he wrote under the pen name James Clemens. As Clemens, Czajkowski wrote a fantasy series called The Banned and the Banished. He adopted another pen name for some standalone techno-thrillers and the SIGMA Force series, and it's under that name of James Rollins that we meet him here with 2010's Altar of Eden. He also wrote the novelization of the poorly-received Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, which he would probably rather you keep to yourself. In Altar, we meet veterinarian Lorna Polk as she hurries to her special southern Louisiana research facility after its power has gone off in a storm. Just as power is restored and her team sees there is no damage, Dr. Polk is whisked away by a division of the Border Patrol that's investigating a beached boat on the Louisiana coast. They find no survivors except for some strangely changed -- and in some cases deformed -- animals. The team is led by Jack Menard, brother of a high school boyfriend whose death she witnessed many years ago and is blamed for by his family except for Jack She helps them determine that one of the deadliest of the altered animals escaped the boat and is headed for the Louisiana swamps. And yes, the relationship between Polk and Menard does to this novel exactly what that dependent clause did to the previous sentence -- makes you scratch your head and wonder why such a complication exists. The pair discover the animals are part of some kind of experiment that has affected their brains as well as their bodies, and that the secret corporation behind it is very interested in keeping a low profile. So interested, in fact, that its employees are more than ready to murder to insure it. Rollins writes a peppy, taut action scene and his veterinary background gives him a good working knowledge of much of the medical science at the root of his thriller. In its three main action set pieces -- the hunt for and confrontation with the escaped animal, fighting off corporate thugs at Polk's lab and storming an island research base -- Altar hums along uncluttered. The exposition that comes in between the first two set pieces and the concluding one does almost the exact opposite. Clunky, wordy and littered with useless features, it sticks out in the book like a Windows Vista operating system among Mac Snow Leopards. It doesn't help that it also serves to introduce the shadowy CEO megalomaniac at the root of the experiments, who is so much of a stock character he's got to exist on some thriller author keyboard macro somewhere. He is, of course, greedy, ruthless and eeeeevil, but has the "unexpected character trait" of being a religious hypocrite. The mad scientist responsible for the experiments is just about as cookie-cutter, but he does allow Rollins to identify John 1:1 as a quote from Genesis so he -- or perhaps his creator -- is not without comic relief. If you allow your inner Evelyn Woods to take over during the exposition passage and skim through it to the action and overlook Rollins' attempt to build Dramatic Tension by giving his two leads a Shadowy Shared Past, Altar of Eden is a diverting read and not likely to be the worst book you could buy from the Wal-Mart discount bin. Original available here.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    Up and down but really good storied sections in between. Then science time per usual James Rollins :)

  28. 4 out of 5

    Shannon

    I won this book through first-reads, and although it is not the typical type of book I would usually read, I really enjoyed it. It has non-stop action, science, a bit of romance, and very real characters, both human and animals. Also, the main character is very likable, even with her flaws, (she had an abortion when she was a teenager). Veterinarian Lorna Polk receives some strange news regarding animals involved in a ship wreck near New Orleans. When she goes to investigate, she finds a featherle I won this book through first-reads, and although it is not the typical type of book I would usually read, I really enjoyed it. It has non-stop action, science, a bit of romance, and very real characters, both human and animals. Also, the main character is very likable, even with her flaws, (she had an abortion when she was a teenager). Veterinarian Lorna Polk receives some strange news regarding animals involved in a ship wreck near New Orleans. When she goes to investigate, she finds a featherless parrot, conjoined monkeys, and other animals with not-so-apparent oddities. It is then discovered that a saber-tooth cat is on the loose with one of her cubs. The action then quickly shifts to the hunt for the cat, while the other animals are tested in a lab which confirms some sort of genetic engineering or alterations. The next part of the book involves the men behind the creation of these animals capturing Dr. Polk and destroying the research facility in an attempt to cover their tracks. Dr. Polk is then taken to a set of islands in the Caribbean, the headquarters of her abductors. There, she learns that the research is geared toward bioweapons and that the research has not been limited to only animals. Jack (the love interest) and his men are not far behind the abductors in an attempt at a rescue mission. They are able to rescue Dr. Polk, and even a few of the inhabitants... Of course, the book does have a happy ending for Jack and Lorna.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Thomas Edmund

    Despite injecting biblical quote and reference, this novel fails to reach such proportions. Instead the storyline kinda is an elaborate Lake Placid. I shouldn’t be quite so harsh, the attempts at good science fiction are noteworthy and perhaps as my undergraduate degree is in genetics I am too sceptical. The basic storyline is: The government is conducting genetic engineering experiments and creating intelligent monsters. A vet (animal doctor) and a vet (Iraq) team up to stop this evil experimen Despite injecting biblical quote and reference, this novel fails to reach such proportions. Instead the storyline kinda is an elaborate Lake Placid. I shouldn’t be quite so harsh, the attempts at good science fiction are noteworthy and perhaps as my undergraduate degree is in genetics I am too sceptical. The basic storyline is: The government is conducting genetic engineering experiments and creating intelligent monsters. A vet (animal doctor) and a vet (Iraq) team up to stop this evil experimentation. The attempt at backstory is melodramatic and completely at odds or at best unrelated to the central plotline, and the relationship aspects of the novel are so cheesy they wouldn’t be out of place in the romance genre. Towards the end the moralising becomes way too blunt and too childish to enjoy, and the lazy plotting leads to an unsatisfying conclusion. There are many aspects of the science fiction which are just chucked in for funsies, which wouldn’t be so bad if the rest of the novel held itself up, this is not the case however. I suspect fans of non-stop straight into the action, type of novels will enjoy Altar of Eden, however if are looking for novels that make you think, don’t read this one. (unless your intent is by ‘make you think’ is to mean ‘make think you’re better than the author of this novel’)

  30. 4 out of 5

    Danielle

    [Updated review] 3.5/5 The second reading for me was less enjoyable than the first. Although still a fun novel jam-packed with action and adventure, I think it’s a lot easier to love when you don’t have a molecular biology background. In ways this is a bit like a modern version of the Island of Doctor Moreau and likewise parts of it haven’t aged well even it the book is less than 10 years old. That being said the idea behind the story remains intriguing and the book is extremely hard to put down [Updated review] 3.5/5 The second reading for me was less enjoyable than the first. Although still a fun novel jam-packed with action and adventure, I think it’s a lot easier to love when you don’t have a molecular biology background. In ways this is a bit like a modern version of the Island of Doctor Moreau and likewise parts of it haven’t aged well even it the book is less than 10 years old. That being said the idea behind the story remains intriguing and the book is extremely hard to put down once you get started. [Original review] James Rollins is a master had grabbing on to a reader and refusing to let go until the final page. Alter of Eden is my favorite of his novels. Dealing with genetics, cutting-edge technology, animals with elevated intelligence and just the right amount of explosions and edge-of-your-seat action, this book is sure to satisfy all fans of good fiction. A great part of Rollins' writing is the element of explanation. This book has a great deal of innovative science and features just enough description to let the read understand what is happening, but also just enough to get you curious and make you want to learn more. At the end of the most of his novels, including this one, is a list of sources and recommandations for those who want to improve their knowledge of the book's subjects.

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