Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Last Oracle by James Rollins

In The Last Oracle, Commander Gray Pierce, a member of SIGMA Force, tries to stop a group of scientists from carrying out their evil plot that could destroy the world. Gray travels from country to country searching for answers after a supposedly homeless man hands him a rare artefact possibly dating back to the Oracle of Delphi. Meanwhile, Monk is half way around the world in a hospital room suffering from amnesia. With the help of some children with autistic savant abilities, he escapes and must save himself, the children and, ultimately, the world. These children are fleeing from the scientists who are planning to use them to create "a world prophet for the new millennium".

I really enjoyed this face-paced, thriller combining science, religion, history and a little psychology all into a one novel that was well-written, easy to read and hard to put down. I loved the author's timing. Just as a piece of the mystery was to be revealed, a gunmen would appear or a bullet would buzz by or he would simply cut to another scene with other characters. Very suspenseful.

Even though Rollins uses autistic children in this novel, he doesn't focus on the disorder so much as he does the savant abilities that some autistic children exhibit. I was amazed at the range of abilities that these young children had. Fascinating stuff. I don't know if some of these abilities (as stated by Rollins) actually present themselves in real life, but I found it interesting enough that one day I'd like to poke around on the internet to find out.

The author uses an interesting and thought-provoking quote regarding autism. It's from real-world Dr. Temple Grandin:
If by some magic, autism had been eradicated from the face of the earth, then men would still be socializing in front of a wood fire at the entrance to a cave.

There are plenty of diverse characters for the reader to root for. My favourite was Kowalski, the muscle who I think was written in for some comic relief. I often laughed out loud at his antics, although, I've never met a man so obsessed with shoes. Other great characters include: Gray, Monk, Marta, Pyotr and Sasha. The relationship between Marta and Pyotr was particularly intriguing.

Rollins' notes at the end of the book are quite interesting. In them, he presents some scientific facts to support his fiction. There are some surprises including a list of well-known historical people who may have showed some autistic tendencies. Very cool.

I'm looking forward to reading more books by this author. The short bio on the back cover of the book indicates that the author's interests are quite diverse. Spelunking, diving, veterinary medicine, and, although it's not listed, presumably writing. When I read the line "he'll often be found either underground or underwater", my first thought was, I wonder where he prefers to write: underground or underwater. ;)

Definitely recommended.

1 comment:

  1. I just got finish listening to this book on CD and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I was left a bit baffled though. I would have loved to know what the secret was and who the "new" boy is that has been snatched from harm.


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