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review 2015-03-29 03:12
12/21 Review
12.21 - Dustin Thomason




A man named Gutierrez brings an old Mayan artifact to Dr. Chel Manu. It is obviously stolen and she knows she should report it. But this artifact is like nothing she (or anyone else) has ever seen. Meanwhile, a prion disease has appeared (think mad cow) and the doctors are desperately searching for the source. People are dying and as 12/21/12 approaches, some people are saying it is the end of the world. 


Okay, so I went into this book blind (having no idea what it was about, though maybe I should have guessed from the title). I do this often, with varying results. This book was fine. The mystery of what caused the disease is pretty obvious to the reader early on. But watching the characters try to figure it out is interesting. The book moves at a slow pace overall with a few surprising and exciting moments. There are several points of view, including the writings from the artifact which detail the life of the scribe who wrote them.


Not my favorite "virus causes the apocalypse" book but not bad.


Recommended to:

I know there are more interesting books out there, but if you like ancient history and stories about out of control viruses, you might like it.

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review 2014-08-15 21:10
It's the end of the world as we know it...
12.21 - Dustin Thomason

And apparently I can't sleep. Because you know..the prions. It's always about the prions. Let me start by saying this. I have insomnia. And this is the third book in months I've picked up about sleeping issues. These prions are serious business, man. Just pick up Charlie Huston's Sleepless for a good night's sleep! Anyways. This was a fun read. And quick! I listened to it in about 2 days I guess. I could NOT put it down. Where to start? 2012! Mayan prophecy! Prion's disease! Epidemics! Medical who done it! And the Dan Brown school of lost symbols and ancient words. All rolled up into one juicy end of the world shenanigans. As you can see I thought this book was a hoot. And it's all based on Los Angeles, my home town! The premise is a little short on fact facts. Like yeah I can get to Guatemala from LA just by making a drive to the ocean. Getting a boat. Paying some dudes a fee and all while the USA is quarantined. Like. Just like that. But over look that. Like I said it's a fun roller coaster. Especially when you read it after 2012. The characters are a bit one sided and a bit on the shallow end. But that's because they aren't wasting time with back stories. We just want you to get the scoop right away! No building up and bored learning about your character's 'motivation'. 

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review 2014-07-28 19:12
Review: The Rule of Four by Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason
The Rule of Four - Ian Caldwell,Dustin Thomason

This is gonna be easy: Bollocks.

Long-winded, convoluted, meandering, unnecessary, “me-too” bollocks at that. 

I can only surmise that the people quoted at length on the back cover, who really ought to know better, have been blinded by the dazzling array of ancient scholars poets and painters mentioned inside. As usual, they seem to be describing a book they may well have read, but that, with the best will in the world, isn’t this one. It certainly isn’t “one part The Da Vinci Code’, one part ’The Name of the Rose.” That’s up the top on the back there to say "you've heard of Da Vinci Code', but are too intellectual to read it? Well it's ok to read this, cause we've put The Name of the Rose' at the top as well!” !t isn’t. It wants to be, but isn’t in the same ball-park, however your opinion of the two other books is.

It is a very dull book about another very dull book. A 'real' book it seems, with a very nearly unpronounceable title. One I can’t be bothered going all the way over there to find. One that some Princeton students have decided they can decipher. Not that I could find any reference to anyone ever deciding it actually needed deciphering. Maybe I didn’t look hard enough. It’s perfectly possible. But what’s Wikipedia for, if not to save you the trouble of deciding if anyone has ever felt it needed deciphering and wasn’t actually just a load of dull old crepe?

Can I be bothered reciting the plot? Well, if there is one, it tries to maybe be about obsession. But I really got beyond caring. It really doesn't connect. Tries to, obsessively, but misses. The obsession caused by at least two of them going them very nearly going doo-lally trying to decipher the book, sliding around Princeton in the snow, missing deadlines, fumbling relationships, setting fire to the college library and all that student-type jazz. As with all American novels, of what ever genre, involving four students, each is a unique, borderline genius in his own way (of course). Though (of course) with troubled backgrounds. But they’re, navel-staring, indecisive characters that really aren’t all that interesting, no matter how many scarves they wear.

(And why can’t there be a normal, struggling through, only ever understanding their college years, years later, average intelligence, bloke, in any of these things? US authors always seem to think it’s more convincing if they have characters who are absolutely, exceptionally, brilliantly talented at something - or many things - and then try to suggest they are also ordinary, because they stay up all night researching, wear tatty clothes and forget to eat for days. I wore tatty clothes because I hadn’t two brass farthings (Hey, I remember Farthings!) to rub together. Mainly because I’d spent the rest on BEER, but that’s another story).

Back to the name of the book inside the book. What a mistake that was! There can’t be anyone who has read the ‘Da Vinci Code’ bit on the back and then ‘The Rule of Four’ who hasn’t tried to pronounce the ancient book’s title a couple of times, given up, then skipped over every mention thereafter. It means you at no time connect with their obsession. You should be able to understand their obsession, by connecting with it. But if you glaze over at the mention of the book’s name, how can you come past that to connect with their problems? Can’t be done. Nope.

In its early stages, it doesn’t know what it wants to be. Where it wants to go. Actually, I NEVER felt it came to a proper decision there. A quest to decipher a code becomes an in-depth look at rich kids’ student life at Princeton. Clearly, their editor nudged one of them and points to the supposed premise of the story and yells “get on with it!” No surprise it’s written by two of them. One must have gone on holiday at points during the writing, then couldn’t be bothered reading what the other had written when he got back and just carried on with his section where the other left off. And no, the Princeton stuff isn’t good background setting, it’s padding. It’s there to say to US readers: "Hey! We’ve got somewhere equally as snooty as Oxford and Cambridge!” That’s all. Then, towards the end, realising one of them has written too much about staying up late at Princeton, the other decides to finish it (and you) off with page after page (after page) of explanation of what the unpronounceable book supposedly leads to. And where. Always a bad sign, as I’ve noted elsewhere. Shows they haven't done their job well enough earlier on. And it does go on and on. A couple of pages would have been more than enough. Once it’s clear what it is the book leads to, whilst hiding it from ‘the unworthy’, I’ve lost interest. As, I suspect, the ending shows the authors had too.

A waste of time. Mostly mine. At least they got paid for it.

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review 2013-07-21 20:58
The Rule of Four
The Rule Of Four - Ian Caldwell,Dustin Thomason An interesting melange of The Secret History, Da Vinci Code and The Name of the Rose. A book contains secrets, some college students are studying it, crooked college politics and murder affect events.
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review 2013-07-09 00:00
The Rule of Four
The Rule of Four - Ian Caldwell,Dustin Thomason Four stars after all those status updates! But even though I didn't like the narrator, or his philosophy, the other characters had some interesting stuff going on behind the scenes and the plot was just insane enough to be fun, especially for the more literary style of the writing. Went with the subject.
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