Friday, June 6, 2014

12.21: Review

For years leading up to December 21, 2012, people were getting their end-of-the-world mojo on. It seemed like everywhere you looked someone was putting out a book taking advantage of the reading public's interest in the supposed doomsday predicted by the ancient Mayan calendar. I read a few myself just to see what was up. I missed 12.21 by Dustin Thomason (Aug. 2012). That's not too shocking given the fact that I'm not, generally speaking, all that into thrillers--particularly medical thrillers. In fact--without scanning through my books read list--I believe the last medical thriller I read was Coma by Robin the 80s. But you know how I am with challenges...I can't resist them. So, when Shellyrae at Book'ed Out called for a medical thriller in her Eclectic Reader Challenge and the Goodreads Literary Exploration Challenge also called for a thriller, I couldn't say no.

And the premise for 12.21 grabbed me when I went hunting in the library website for a medical thriller that I thought might do ('cause I just don't have those hanging about the house...). See?:

In Los Angeles, two weeks before the end of the Mayan Long Count clalendar, all is calm. Dr. Gabriel Stanton takes his usual morning bike ride, drops off the dog with his ex-wife, and heads to the lab where he studies incurable prion diseases for the CDC. His first phone call is from a hospital resident who has an urgent case she thinks he needs to see. Meanwhile, Chel Manu, a Guatemalan American researcher at the Getty Museum, is interrupted by a desperate, unwelcome visitor from the black market antiquities trade who thrusts a duffel bag into her hands.

By the end of the day, Stanton, the foremost expert on some of the rarest infections in the world, is grappling with a patient whose every symptom confounds and terrifies him. And Chel, the brightest young star in the field of Maya studies, has possession of an illegal artifact that has miraculously survived the centuries intact: a priceless codex from a lost city of her ancestors. This extraordinary record, written in secret by a royal scribe, seems to hold the answer to her life’s work and to one of history’s great riddles: why the Maya kingdoms vanished overnight. Suddenly it seems that our own civilization might suffer this same fate.
With only days remaining until December 21, 2012, Stanton and Chel must join forces before time runs out.
[from the back of the book]

Lots of interesting historical tie-ins which Thomason uses to put a twist on the usual Mayan end-of-the-world thing (shifting of the poles, great earthquakes, and all those other climatic earth-related disasters).  I really enjoyed learning about the Mayans through the ancient codes. The plot line itself is good--believable and a bit scary if prions really could turn that dangerous. It is a fast-moving, quick read that I enjoyed on a a lot of levels. However, like several others on Goodreads, I did find it a bit difficult to connect with the characters. I just never got invested in most of them as people and the one character that I found the most intriguing (and I can't tell you why without a spoiler) winds up dying. Ain't that always the way? Overall--a darn good read for something so far out of my comfort zone. ★★★ and 1/2.


fredamans said...

This sounds interesting.
I have a funny story, which I'm sure we were not the only ones to do it, however that New Years Eve, at the stroke of midnight while everyone was celebrating and having fun, all the power went out.
Yes that was a planned trick because of the impending doom lots thought we were about to suffer from, but only the hosts knew the joke.
It was frightening for the kids, but they are resilient and soon forgot when the power was restored.

Bev Hankins said...

Hmmm. That would be a bit scary for the kids. But an interesting trick...

Unknown said...

You should look in to “Hypocrisy” by D.M. Annechino, I recently bought it for my wife and she loved it. It's a medical thriller and she keeps telling me that she couldn't put it down. I'll have to look in to this one for her, I think she'd really like it. Thanks for the review, going to check it out.

Bev Hankins said...

James: Thanks for the suggestion. I may look into it....but over all medical thrillers (and thrillers of any sort) really aren't my thing. Even though this one was good it was out of my comfort zone.