After my time with the shorter lengths, a return to the full novel was due. As a fan of thrillers, especially those with a hint (or more than just a hint) of the more than ordinary, I generally scan a certain subset of authors. Included here are Matthew Reilly (especially Temple and his Jack West, Jr. series), Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child (both together and separately), early James Rollins (think Subterranean), or much of Michael Crichton. However, at the last trip to the bookstore, I stumbled upon a book that fit just this category, by an author I had heard of (because of another of his books, Kronos), but had never read. I picked it up, and based on the back, was excited for my trip into it.
Based on a not-really-excepted theory, Earth goes through what is known as a “crustal displacement,” more or less meaning that all of the places on the globe have switch where they are, e.g. the north pole is around North Dakota, north Africa is a flourishing garden, and Antarctica is now temperate and humid. This huge crustal displacement leads to a complete turn-around when it comes to countries in power, with huge parts of Europe and North America now frozen solid. However, with Antarctica now viable, every in-need former-world power wants a piece of it. To avoid a world war that no country could survive, an idea is put in motion: each of the 11 main bodies left (the most important to the story being the United States, the European Kingdom, the Arab Alliance, the Chinese, and the re-formed Soviet Union) will race to the geographic center of the continent of Antarctica, and the first three there will split the continent.
All of the nations want to grasp this vital piece, and therefore set their odds however they can, be it hiring an assassin, using huge numbers, employing suicide bombers, or in the case of the Americans, picking up the two most knowledgeable experts alive when it comes to Antarctica: Mirabelle Whitney and Dr. Merrill Clark. Teamed with an elite Special Forces unit, Whitney and Clark lead an expedition into the heart of the continent. However, Clark has found some troubling discoveries, and the continent may not be as lonely as they think. Thanks to anhydrobiosis, long-thought-extinct dinosaurs are roaming Antarctica, and they are just a prelude to the true threat.
Robinson does an interesting job of combining all of the thriller aspects with what becomes a stronger religious theme as the book goes on (on which leads to thought, not a book to preach at you). He combines the two deftly, and never does it seem her forced the plot into too tight of angles to make it work. Robinson creates a whole team of characters that you come to know and care about, to cheer for and hope they make it through, and when deaths arise, there is a sense of regret.
The beginning starts with a bang, but then really seemed to slow down a bit. However, once Mirabelle joins with the Special Forces, things really start to take off, and Robinson does an excellent job from there on of giving information without holding up the plot, which flies along. Each of the over-the-top elements he adds to the story are explained in such a way as to not seem as far-fetched as they did initially, and he manages to do some very neat and original things with his thriller. Get past the beginning and the set-up, and this is an excellent romp.