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Speaking of books I can’t wait to put down but promised not to, this book makes the top of my list. If I hadn’t made a commitment to read it, I wouldn’t have bothered. Or, at least, gotten past the first few pages. That’s how I ended up reading the Twilight novels. Still, this isn’t a Twilight novel. This is Sigma Force 02: Map of Bones (normally when I link, it’s to Amazon so a reader can purchase the book. This time, I can’t make myself ask anyone to buy this thing except as fire starter, so a link to the main website it is).

In case you haven’t noticed, I’m not impressed. This is bad. I’m going to list the offenses I can think of off the top of my head, then I’ll get around to actually critiquing this series of pages tossed together.

  • Bad, tacky writing
  • Cliche ridden – poor family relationships, mental illness, predictable romance. All these items read like a check list for some high school paper someone assigned.
  • Paint by numbers.
  • No character development
  • Writes like someone who puts a novel out every six months and doesn’t care about it. Actually, not unlike Richard Castle from Castle.
  • Plot only. Not that that’s a bad thing, that’s essentially what action thriller genre is.
  • Plenty of telling. Not a lot of showing.
  • Poor pacing and flow.
  • Written very simply, no challenge
  • Generic characterization. everyone is super smart or good at what they do. a genius

Let’s start with the plot. It exists, I’ll give the book that much. In fact, as an action adventure, that’s really the only reason this book does exist. Plot twist after plot twist is thrown against a wall, hoping something sticks, with betrayal and betrayal. Actually, that’s not unlike a M Night Shyamalan movie.

From a technical stand point, Rollins often confuses who is talking. Not so much in that he is making the mistake but following along for the reader becomes difficult. Often, as dialogue is interspersed with detail,  who is actually talking gets lost.

Rollins tends to make inane comments such as “despite the high-IQ’s Sigma was no less a rumor mill than any cooperation.” Which has a habit of making Rollins look a little incompetent for his troubles. See, specifically dealing with that particular sentence, and extrapolated quite often in many others, is the idea that such a concept is unique. Except, I know a lot of smart people. MD’s and genetics scientists, ceramic engineers, and computer programmers. I have friends who can rebuild computers from scratch in 15 minutes and recite entire passages of television shows with near perfection. None of which makes anyone any less likely to spread rumors than anyone else.

I also have a serious problem the way he proves peoples intelligence through nonsensical clues. Robbins describes the Romanization of “SIA” as consciousness and “AIS” as brain. He tries to tie them together. The problem is that Egyptian is not a language based on the Roman alphabet, so these similarities are phonetic and likely unintentional. They have no specific meaning, especially not the palindromic nature he ascribes.  That’s like saying “Time” means the progress of events and “emit” which means to give off, are intrinsically tied together.

Honestly, the book feels a lot like a techonbabble speechification. Lots of information that sounds smart but isn’t smartly written. Think… movies like National Treasure. Which, I suppose, is fine for a certain audience. Probably most of main stream United States of America readers. Another annoyance is Rollins tendency to have characters speak in different languages. All for the appearance of being smart and well read. Then he immediately translates it for the reader. That’s not necessarily a bad trick, but it happens so frequently as to remind the reader what is occurring.

I’ll admit I may have missed details. But, the book doesn’t command itself to details. Nothing in the way it’s written asks the reader to pay close attention. I’m going to lay the blame for that on Rollins. If he didn’t care about his word choice, then I won’t either. Really, this book reads like a Young Adult book, for readers ages 12-14 (though that might insult them given what I was reading at that age) with more gore and violence. A bad Rated R movie. Then again, maybe I am missing something, because the entire section of Barnes and Nobles is devoted to this and romance novels.

None of the characters in this book elicit any response from me as a reader. I feel nothing when they are hurt. Mostly, their incompetence makes the results of many of their actions seem justified. Which might make sense, except, the characters are so woefully ignorant of their own ramifications that I’m almost happy when horrible things happen. It’s a little like watching a car accident on a highway. Fascinating to watch, despite the fact that such an account should be horrendously damaging.

Alright. At some point, I’ll have to stop typing away at my keyboard. Anger at simple fiction will only take me so far. Just know that I can’t honestly recommend this book, with any sort of heart, what-so-ever. There’s nothing to challenge the reader, no spark. I really need to keep thinking of Mr. Bowne’s advice and not waste time on horrible books. That’s 400 pages and three days I’ll never get back.

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