I was pleasantly surprised by this book. I frankly expected a silly Jurassic Park
rip-off or more unexplained monster plants like in The Ruins
(both books are mentioned on the back cover). Instead I found an intelligent, thought-provoking thriller with more science than I've found in the last 50 science fiction books I've read. And once I got about halfway through, I absolutely could not put it down.
This novel tells the story of Hender's island, an isolated island in the South Pacific that has been on a separate evolutionary track for millions of years. Rumor of it occurred only once in the logbooks of a British ship that landed there briefly in 1791. When a present day ship gets a distress call from the island, scientists from around the world, NASA, and the military have difficulty penetrating its depths. It appears that all the animals and plants that live there are more violent, predatory, and deadly than anything that evolved elsewhere on earth. The hope is to find something worthwhile on the island and the fear is spreading a single specimen from this island to the rest of the world lest the world be completely decimated by the invasion.
I was completely impressed with the amount of biology in this novel. Since the author isn't a scientist, I was a little leery of some of his theories. However, it seems as if he consulted with many scientists and did much research for this book. The prologue is especially intriguing as it tells of what has happened when various species have invaded and decimated foreign ecological systems (for example, carnivorous Chinese snakehead fish being let loose in a pond in Maryland). So, of course, the reader wonders if the prologue foreshadows a very bad ending for this book or not. Another intriguing bit of science in this book comes from a lecture one of the characters gives on his theory that a species' mating habits directly relate to its lifespan. Later, we see this in action in the book with the Hender's island animals who mate at young ages (some even in the womb) and live very short lives.
The ending of this book is perfect. I want so badly to give it away, but I won't. There are some hints of what is to come throughout the story, and I had my suspicions, but I hadn't put the fragments of the whole picture together just right. I'm definitely looking forward to future story ideas from this writer.Note: While I critique both purchased and free books in the same way, I'm legally obligated to tell you I received this book free through the Amazon Vine program in return for my review. Blah blah blah.