I read a lot of Michael Crichton in high school. Like, all of it. And for fifteen(plus) years since then I have tried to find books like what he writes. Sci-fi thrillers that are actually worth a damn. Those where people are either screwing with science they shouldn’t or perhaps where mother nature is screwing with them. What I usually find instead are trite monstrosities where the lead male meets a hot girl, goes on an adventure that doesn’t even make sense, then saves the hot girl from a rape where she falls in love with him. It is a tired formula but seems to be bestseller gold.
The Gods of Laki is better than most of the wannabe thrillers I just alluded too. It has a small fantasy element that sets it apart from its sci-fi brethren but firmly fits into the thriller group. And I enjoyed it quite a bit. It is not the next coming of Jurassic Park by any means, but an enjoyable romp with a pretty cool premise.
In it a former member of the secret service takes a job that sends him to Iceland to guard a woman studying the volcanic activity. He is uniquely suited for this because geology happens to be what he left the service for. The volcanic activity of Laki is drawing a lot of interest though and through this tale we will be watching how it has drawn in a diverse group over time; 9th century Vikings, the Germans in World War II, and now various special interests with very different goals. The protagonist will join this conveniently gorgeous woman in stopping plans that have worldwide implications.
What else can we expect, right?
Some of the familiar traps that thrillers fall into are unfortunately present. Know why Elle in Jurassic Park has proven so much more memorable in the movie version than she was in the book? She wasn’t sexualized. She didn’t fall into the ‘same as every other book trap’ and thus stood out. (At least this is my humble opinion). In The Gods of Laki I have already forgotten the lead woman’s motivation. Despite being a huge part of the plot it was never her story. There was also a sexual assault story line on a different character that took up a decent amount of space seemingly only to drop a single important detail about a bad man’s plot.
What the book had going for it was a decent pace (a must for a thriller), some actual twists (including a duel villain thing that kept everything more interesting) and a genuinely different premise.
What else can I really say about the book? I don’t do thrillers enough to give them the respect they deserve but this one seems to fall into the better side of ‘run of the mill.’ I don’t think anything is fantastic, and while the premise is unique the execution feels very familiar. On the other hand it doesn’t actively insult me like some of the best sellers I tried have recently. And I like the slight fantasy influence.
Plus it has a fabulous cover, one of my favorites this year.
Copy for review provided by publisher.