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Reading: Relic

Relic by Douglas Preston
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Book Number: 206

‘Far above Crichton’s Jurassic Park

Alien meets Jurassic Park

Both those quotes are on the book’s cover, which means anybody reading this book goes in with some lofty expectations. Jurassic Park was an excellent book and a great film, while Alien is a classic horror. The second quote is fairly accurate, the plot trapping a group of people in an isolated location to be picked off by what seems to be a dinosaur, though in this case it’s a New York museum with elaborate security measures rather than the island of Isla Nublar or the spaceship Nostromo.

There’s a lot of build-up to the creature’s eventual reveal, which is a good thing as keeping it hidden leaves plenty up to the viewer’s imagination. The book really doesn’t rush things though, introducing a large cast of characters (and not just to provide creature fodder) who do plenty of research and theorising in their own little groups, and even when some of the characters have established almost exactly what the creature is and what it’s after they have trouble convincing anybody who has the authority to do something about it. That’s a problem as the museum is gearing for a big event to launch its new exhibit, inviting lots of people with fame or political influence, and the organisers aren’t about to cancel it over vague theories of monstrous creatures loose in the museum. Unsurprisingly, everything falls apart, multiple poor decisions and bad luck adding up to major disaster, with dozens of people locked away with the creature and nobody seeming able to stop it.

It wasn’t a bad story, though it’s oddly chunky for a fairly simple monster story due to the large cast and the lengthy build-up to the monster’s first sighting. Ultimately it doesn’t hold up to the Jurassic Park or Alien comparisons on the cover, as both tell better stories, but that was always unlikely. According to Goodreads it’s the first of a series, focused upon the Pendergast FBI agent who wasn’t actually the main character of this book (though the authors definitely seemed fond of him), but Relic hasn’t left me itching to check out the next ten (!) books in the series.

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