Original Books

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Monday, March 1, 2010

Fossil Hunter by John Olson

A lone shepherd has stumbled across a whale fossil in the Iraqi desert. Analysis indicates that it could be a newly-discovered species that could shed light on the evolutionary debate. Dr. Katie James has been asked to lead an expedition of grad students to recover the fossil before her rival, Nick Murad, can find it first. But when they arrive, Katie finds the unexpected-a human fossil. She is forced to collaborate with Nick to analyze the find before a faction of the Iraqi government can find it and destroy it. Soon they find themselves on a run for their very lives. Their careers and reputations are on the line-not to mention their hearts and souls.

John Olson refrains from his usual weirdness and bizarre writing style, mostly because this book has been written for a cause. This book attacks evolution at an interesting angle while supporting creationism. This is good, but it does not effect my rating either way. The plot is still mediocre and predictable. John Olson hasn't really learned anything about originality.

Katie James is an imperfect character and has a slight personality. Nick Murad is a standard perfect male lead, and the other characters are just cardboard cutouts. But then again, John's female leads are usually imperfect because they're so afraid of everything. Katie reminds me a lot of Darcy from Adrenaline. John still suffers in the character department.

The foundational idea behind the book is good enough, but the plot is muddled with cheesy suspense. With every page turn, Katie and Nick are either being chased around the desert or are about to die of dehydration or heat stroke. John does that annoying thing some authors do to create "suspense" by ending every chapter with a suspenseful statement. But at the beginning of the next chapter, it's either a misunderstanding or quickly resolved. I particularly care for any kind of overused drama or forced suspense, but this is the worst thing an author can do when trying to write suspense. These such episodes fill the book and make it unprofessional and shallow. If these such parts are censored from the book, there is next to nothing remaining, therefore suggesting that John Olson is not creative enough to write a truly interesting book, but can only create unnecessary drama.

The method in which the fossils are found is realistic enough. When compared to John's other nonsense, this book is very good. It is a very possible and realistic situation. But when compared with other books, this book is only average.

The romantic subplot is highly predictable and uncreative. If two people do not like each other at the beginning of the book, why do they suddenly have a change of heart at the end of the book and fall into each other's arms? This plot device is stock and overused. There's no explanation for why authors incessantly use it over and over again. There is also a cheesy and predictable showdown at end. People can hide behind the fact that this book is attacking evolution all day long, and I have no problem with that. The plot is just not interesting at all.

Perhaps there is hope for John after all.

2.5 stars

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