Okay, you've probably heard about it - the latest date for the end of the world. December 21, 2012 will be the final curtain according to some interpretations of the Mayan long calendar.
Dustin Thomason sets his latest novel - 12-21 - (a solo effort after his successful co-authoring of The Rule of Four in 2004) a few weeks before that date.
Dr. Gabriel Stanton is a world renowned expert in the field of prions - those tiny agents responsible for what we commonly call mad cow disease. When he receives a call from a local doctor insisting she has a case he needs to look at, he reluctantly attends. But when he arrives, what he discovers is unthinkable - a prion disease with no known cause or cure....and no way of knowing how it's being spread.
Dr. Chel Manu is an expert in her field as well - Mayan documents and dialects. When a known looter leaves an artifact with her, she too is stunned. It's a rare codex describing a time period in Mayan culture that has never been documented - until now.
Gabriel's patient? From Guatemala. Manu? From Guatemala. And now Gabriel and Chel are thrown together in a race against time to discover answers, antidotes and more....before it's too late.
Thomason has crafted an excellent tale, drawing us in in many ways. The mystery of past civilizations has always fascinated me. There are examples of Mayan glyphs throughout the book. At first I thought they looked quite cartoonish and of course had to go online to check them out. Turns out, that's what they really look like. There were other bits of story line that I followed up as well. Tomason has done his research.
The whole prion disease thing is scary - and the disease Chel and Gabriel encounter? It's real. Lots of food for thought - except maybe meat.
All of this provides a good solid foundation for the main two characters. They're well fleshed out and I liked them both - Chel a little more. Some of the supporting characters seemed to be a bit cliched. And I question the purpose of the 'Monster' character. He didn't seem to add anything to the story. I did enjoy the insertions of passages from the codex, written by Paktul, a Mayan scribe.
There's lot of action and run up to the final chapters that kept me eagerly turning pages. I was a bit disappointed by some of the end scenes - although exciting, they were slightly unbelievable, which was disappointing given the research and care put into the rest of the book. But, all in all, 12-21 was a good, entertaining read. ( And I can see it being made into a movie) Read an excerpt of 12-21.
Dustin Thomason attended Harvard University, where he studied anthropology and medicine. He won the Hoopes Prize for undergraduate writing, and graduated in 1998. Thomason also received his M.D. and MBA from Columbia University in 2003. You can find Thomason on Twitter.
Sound like a book you'd enjoy? Well, thank to the lovely folks at Dial Press, I have a copy to giveaway. Simply leave a comment to be entered. Open to US and Canada, ends Sept. 15/12.
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