Relic

Relic

Preston/Child

 

I like prologues but I’ve been told it’s frowned upon in today’s publishing market. I’d argue then that perhaps epilogues should also be ditched because the epilogue of this book blew it for me. The long, slow drag to the climax. I mean, I can only maintain my attention for so long following cops and guards and visitors and FBI agents and museum staff through underground tunnels for so long before I forget who everyone is and I don’t care what the hell happens to any of them.

I have mixed feelings about this book. So many things worked and so many didn’t. Honestly, there were too many characters that just didn’t need to be, too many needless scenes and conversations of back stories on Margo’s office mate. In the beginning of the book (chapter 3, especially) there I a lot of head-hopping. Chapter 33 is a chapter focused on Moriarty in his office that adds nothing to the plot, Chapter 37 is filled with lists and Part Three is 160 pages long, the bulk of which is spent either chasing or running from the creature in the underground tunnels.

Let’s talk about Margo while we’re at it. While I appreciate the feeble attempt at giving a female character a lead role in the story, she was the blandest, flattest, most boring character I’ve ever had to tolerate. I hated her and wanted her to get eaten by Mbwun. Oh and self-centered? Yeah that too. Besides the fact that as she sits in the cafeteria bemoaning how much work she must do while the police are investigating the brutal deaths of two children, she actually has the gall to say what an unbelievable horrible day it was because she only got three new paragraphs written and still had to work on the display case. Later the boys do warrant four short sentences before she goes on to wonder about her dinner. Margo is a brilliant researcher who chooses to take a JOURNALIST (yeah the one she wasn’t sure she could stand in Chapter 7) into her confidence. Eh, who am I kidding, her brilliant mentor, Dr. Frock, forgot he was in a wheelchair once, so maybe she comes by it honestly.

And now I want to say something I haven’t said much of this semester: I loved this monster (at first). The whole primitive creature searching out his only food source, making do with what he can when he can’t get those plants was believable. The explanation on the hormones in the hypothalamus made sense and the idea that there could be this strange, primitive creature in the depths of the rain forest is also believable. I liked it. I liked the statue, the journal, the mystery/backstory of the beast. And I liked Pendergast’s nonchalance. If this book had been focused on Pendergast with the others as minor characters and the monster stayed a misplaced primitive beast from the Amazon, this would have been an excellent and much shorter book. But no…

A review of a monster story by me would be amiss if I didn’t mention scientific inconsistencies and so, SPOILER alert here goes. The autopsy scene was laughable. No medically trained professional would use inches in measuring. (and by the way, 10” in DIAMETER is huge for a kid’s head). Medicine uses the metric system. The doctor has some good eyes as well, because to look at a damaged brain and see that the thalamoid region is missing is a pretty amazing feat. It is a small area in the mid brain that one would have to dissect deeply to find.

And last but certainly not least, poor Dr. Whittlesey i.e. Mbwun. I saw it coming but hoped I was wrong. Truly a virus that causes an immediate change to the body’s form is pushing it, but hey a potion worked for Jekyll and Hyde, so I can deal with that even (although I still would have liked it to just be a previously unrecognized creature) but the virus can’t replicate itself so the creature needs a constant supply of it or else it dies? Why? Why would it die? I mean if the virus caused the body to change, then it is functioning with that change, right? And if the virus keeps it at that form one would hypothesize that without the virus, the victim would simply revert to its previous form. And if it is all about the virus, why then did Mbwun need the hypothalamus? How in the world would it replace a strange and unique virus? One could also hypothesize that in eating the hypothalamus of so many humans, Mbwun would begin to revert to Whittlesey. And I hate to be that person, but Kawakita is an Assistant Curator in the Evolutionary Biology Dept. He isn’t a virologist and he must have left the museum with a million bucks because he has managed to build a secret lab in a warehouse in Long Island with all the equipment needed to manipulate viruses and keep research animals? All this BEFORE he could start selling his new, improved “drug”. I can’t even. This epilogue ruined the book. RUINED IT!

You know what the enemy of good is? Better. Sometimes we need to leave it alone and let it be. I wish Preston and Child could have.

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6 thoughts on “Relic

  1. Joe-la, it took all semester, but I finally agree 100 percent with you. I must’ve blocked the epilogue when I read it when it first came out, because I wanted to throw the book when I was done.

    You brought up a good point about Margo. She was extremely bland, and about as forgettable as possible. It’s funny, but I don’t even think Pendergast is a character in the movie, even though he and D’Agosta carried the book. Thankfully, there are plenty of Pendergast novels out there that are far better than this one.

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  2. kmmoreno1 says:

    Joe-la, a pretty insightful post. Some I agree with, some not so much. I’ll start by saying I love Pendergast. I love his character, especially when listening to the narrator in the audiobooks. And like you, I hated Margo. Her scenes were the ones were i took a break in the book.

    You mentioned that you thought there were a lot of characters, and that I agree with you. Where I differ is that I felt Preston and Child did a good job in helping me keep track of them all. His constant scene changes mid chapter allowed me to keep everyone straight. I think had he not, I would have got lost in who was who.

    The science stuff I didn’t pay much attention too, frankly because that was one of my weaker subjects in college. I just skimmed through it. The last two topics I couldn’t agree with you more is the monster and the epilogue. I hated the epilogue, and I loved the monster, the writers kept me on the edge of my seat wondering who or what it was. Then being a hunter myself, I was able to relate on killing the beast. I thought taking out the legs was a good idea, the eye shot is a little bit of a stretch, especially on a charging beast in low light. I think the more believable shot would have been the shot from rear, forward into the belly and up into the vitals.

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  3. Aaron Dalzell says:

    I must be the only one that liked the epilogue, because it had the opposite effect on me. I hated that cake party so damn much but having the Resident Evil style scientist and lab in that warehouse was a cool scene and set up a scary future plot. At least, that’s the way I saw it.

    I agree that I too was lost by who the hell everyone was and pretty much all of them were bland or barely average. Honestly though, I didn’t like Pendergast…he seemed too smart and too well off for his own good and I never felt any suspense when he was around, it was like, oh okay, since Pendergast is here everyone will be fine. I don’t like people like him, so he rubbed me the wrong way.

    Like Mario though, I never paid really much attention to the science stuff either. It sounded legitimate to me, but I guess not as you pointed out 🙂 So I guess they fooled me.

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  4. vanessaessler says:

    Looks like we both feel roughly the same about this book. I enjoyed the monster but I wasn’t as bothered by the reveal that it was a changed human. However, I did see the movie a while back so I already knew that coming into the book. I’m glad to see I wasn’t the only one who was losing track of characters. Margo was rather bland. I felt resoundingly meh about her instead of rooting for her like I hoped I would.

    I was curious how the science side of it would compare to the real deal. I figured it wasn’t very plausible but I had no idea how inaccurate it was. I’m thinking that knowing less about medicine might make monster stories more believable as so many of these tales try to explain the creatures using a pseudo-science approach.

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  5. I thought the science-y bits in this were weak, too. Although I will admit to being suitably impressed by The Extrapolator 🙂 And I honestly didn’t know why the authors thought we needed a virus to effect the change into a monster when we had a perfectly fine explanation in “magic.”
    Margo was obviously the authors’ lame attempt at writing in the “other” gender — keep working on that, boys. You’ll get there someday. I loved Pendergast because he’s basically Sherlock Holmes.
    And yeah, the epilogue? What?? I wonder if they ever did a sequel for that setup?
    Anyway, good post. As usual.

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