12.21 – Dustin Thomason

Published February 17, 2013 by bibliobeth


What’s it all about?:

For decades, December 21, 2012, has been a touchstone for doomsayers worldwide. It is the date, they claim, when the ancient Maya calendar predicts the world will end.

In Los Angeles, two weeks before, 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.

What did I think?:

This book was recommended to me by a presenter of the excellent podcast Books on the Nightstand. I love this podcast, and normally take recommendations very seriously. Okay, fans of Dan Brown are definitely going to like this one – and I know he has a lot of fans and also a lot of critics. The story has an interesting premise, an ancient prophecy that the world is going to end on December 21, 2012 then all of a sudden a deadly disease, spreading quickly with no available cure, invades the population. This disease attacks the brain in the same way that CJD, or “mad cow disease” operates and its effects are fatal.

So…. it had potential. The plot itself could have made for a story full of suspense and drama. However, it turned out to be a bit of a damp squib. The characters seemed under-drawn and vague, it didn’t really excite me, and I wasn’t dying to know the end. The ancient Mayan culture was fascinating, and I think I enjoyed these parts most. Overall though, it might be a great tale for some people, but it just wasn’t my cup of tea.

Would I recommend it?:

Probably not.

Star rating (out of 5):



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