Every five minutes, a transplant candidate dies while waiting for a heart, a liver, a kidney. Imagine a technology that could provide those life-saving transplant organs for a nominal fee … and imagine what a company would do to get a monopoly on that technology.
On a remote island in the Canadian Arctic, PJ Colding leads a group of geneticists who have discovered this holy grail of medicine. By reverse-engineering the genomes of thousands of mammals, Colding’s team has dialed back the evolutionary clock to re-create humankind’s common ancestor. The method? Illegal. The result? A computer-engineered living creature, an animal whose organs can be implanted in any person, and with no chance of transplant rejection.
There’s just one problem: these ancestors are not the docile herd animals that Colding’s team envisioned. Instead, Colding’s work has given birth to something big, something evil.
Okay, that’s a pretty big promise of chills and thrill, right? The obvious comparison is Crichton’s Jurassic Park, as this is about a team of scientists who meddle with Mother Nature using genetic engineering and wind up creating a bunch of monsters that lead to their doom.
On the surface, it kind of reminds me of Deep Blue Sea, but what that film lacks, this novel has in spades (by that I mean character development).
Now, I’m not criticizing Deep Blue Sea for not having lots of character development because it is a monster movie and the main characters are the big, bad sharks. The people they are trying to eat are almost secondary to the story, so it makes sense not to invest too much time in their story, especially when most of them are just going to get eaten anyways.
But Ancestor spends time letting you get to know the characters – some of which are admittedly caricatures (like the insane head of security and the reluctant scientist), but Siglar’s genius is in developing the less important characters, like soldiers-for-hire, the C-5 flight crew and those living on Black Manitou Island.
There were also many great little bits and pieces in this book IMHO. The evil billionaires heading Genada were Canadians, including Magnus, who had spent time in JTF (Canada’s version of Delta Force). They set part of the novel in the Canadian Arctic. If that wasn’t interesting enough, one of the security guards was busy writing vampire novels in his spare time!
I actually read this BEFORE I read Infection and I was very impressed. Scott Siglar gets one star just for setting part of the book in Canada – far too few authors do that IMHO. While the book has its flaws, it was hard to put down and that’s what I look for in a book – something that will entertain me and keep me hooked.
Four stars out of five.