Sandstorm by James Rollins
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Sandstorm started out in London with a literal bang and ended with a storm of supposedly epic proportions in an ancient desert city. But by the time it did, I didn't care anymore. All I saw was a swirly world of sand, glass, and static electricity populated by cardboard characters. The good ones would probably survive and the bad ones wouldn't and so what. What happened in between was pedestrian and predictable thriller fare with too many guns and action and not enough thrill.
Anti-matter? Bucky balls? Parthenogenesis? Underground cities? It all adds up to too much to suspend disbelief. More like 'Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls' than 'Raiders of the Lost Ark', if you want an Indiana Jones comparison (and Rollins apparently does, naming one character 'Omaha' and having another repeatedly calling him 'Indiana').
The characters never really clicked for me, although the settings were pretty vivid. The plot started unraveling for for me when the big puzzle turned into a simple map to a city that wasn't lost, but sealed. If you intentionally hide a city, why do you leave a map to it? And if you do, why do you make it a puzzle? In the end, there was absolutely no point for anyone to go there, anyway.
Which is pretty much how I felt.
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Personal note: The most remarkable thing about this book is that it was the first book-length fiction I read (and finished) on my electronic book reader, a Barnes & Noble nook.