Carmageddon in LA And other surprises follow.
Excellent Sci with Fi Neil, a disaffected eco activist, meets an explosives expert at 2 00am They drive to a deserted gas station in south central LA.
Christina Gonzales, a PHD student at UCLA, volunteers at the La Brea tar pits After monstrous gas bubbles burst over the tar, Christina and her co worker smell vinegar, which doesn t make any sense.
An elderly woman spots a huge puddle of drain cleaner in the alley behind her house She blames the neighbors and calls the police because this could injure her cats A moment later, explosions rock the entire block.
Christina learns that an apparent methane explosion at a deserted gas station has ruined her PHD project, an attempt to use genetically altered bacteria to break down heavy crude oil into easy to harvest natural gas.
If you think these events are coincidence, you have probably never watched a disaster film Like the best movies in the genre, or the novels of Stephen King, Amy Rogers takes a mixed group of people, with their individual hopes, plans, secrets, and strengths, and puts them in an impossible situation By the time I had read this far, I was hooked From here, Petroplague just gets better and better meaning the tribulations of Rogers s characters get worse and worse.
Imagine Los Angeles, or the largest car dependant megalopolis you know Imagine a mutant bacteria in the underground oil supply and the local refineries that breaks down hydrocarbons, reducing petroleum into acetic acid and highly flammable hydrogen, among other things Cars stall on the freeway Airplanes fall from the sky The acid corrodes gas tanks and lines, releasing hydrogen that the smallest spark can ignite Nothing that runs on gasoline moves no firetrucks or ambulances or police cruisers No food deliveries or garbage pickups The looting begins Instability under the Santa Monica fault leads to bigger and bigger earthquakes The La Brea Tar Pits erupt When Christina and her PHD supervisor discover an antidote for the plague, both an eco terrorist network and ruthless corporate interests are willing to go to any lengths to suppress it.
Are you scared yet If not, as Yoda told Luke, You will be Because this is just the beginning Now that we care about Christina, the real chills and thrills begin Eco terrorists smuggle the Petroplague out of the LA quarantine area and plot to release it worldwide in a matter of days Christina and her allies face virtually every danger you can think of as LA spins into chaos and some you can t Think of all the seat gripping you do watching James Cameron movies like, The Terminator and Titanic This is what Amy Rogers does she throws the good guys into a tight situation and keeps cranking up the pressure.
On the basis of having read two books by Michael Crichton, I will tell you that if you like his books, you ll like Petroplague by Amy Rogers, M.
D Except, in some ways, Petroplague is better.
The book begins with an environmentalist who wishes he could do something really big From there, we move to the main character, Christine, a biologist and Ph.
D candidate, working the La Brea Tar Pits There s an accident Then there are further accidents in and around Los Angeles All are the result of oil gone bad An eco terrorist blew up an underground storage tank at an abandoned gas station, and now genetically modified bacteria is in the Los Angeles fuel supply It s eating up the fuel, causing accidents and halting the area transportation systems And the environmentalist who wanted to do something really big now knows the really big thing he can do spread the bacteria to other parts of the world so that no one can use oil, the root of all evil.
This idea of unintended consequences of environmentalists sounds so much like a Michael Crichton idea, I d have sworn that Rogers cowrote this book with him if he were alive But, even though I almost never think a movie based on a book is better than the book, I did feel that way with Crichton books I don t think that about PETROPLAGUE.
It s not that this book wouldn t make a great movie I m sure it would, and I d love to see it.
But Petroplague is based on science, and probably because of Rogers credentials in microbiology and immunology, all of her book sounds possible It s not science fiction When the accidents happen and cars and airplanes stop working, these really don t sound like a stretch.
This is compared with a Crichton book I read, STATE OF FEAR Although this book, too, has to do with ill informed environmentalists, its action scenes seemed to me to be quite a stretch How could some of his characters go so many places and endure so much in one day Christine tries to stop the Petroplague in believable scenes They are all based on real science.
I don t normally read this type of book because I expect it to be corny Honestly, though, this one isn t If you, like me, prefer what I call intelligent, thoughtful fiction, you should try this I enjoyed it, and I m not easy to please.
I have a huge ego To keep its luster, I keep it away from embarrassing situations Naturally, I was a bit intimidated when I followed a stray link from Booktrib to the website of Havard grad, former Cal State Professor, Amy Rogers, MD PhD I know several PhDs and find myself constantly steering their conversations away from topics that will make me feel like a mere mortal at the foot of Mount Olympus Topics like chemistry, physics, geology, math, news, weather, and yeah Well Anyway So I asked myself, do I want to read a book that s probably filled with polysyllabic words I ll have to look up I d followed the link because something about the concept of petroleum plague intrigued me Sounds impossible, right So I read a few pages, bought the ebook, added it to my 12 book deep to read pile, and figured I d get to it eventually But the premise kept calling me what is a petroleum plague And do I want to humiliate myself in a vainglorious attempt to find out Sure, why not Like 50 Shades, who would ever know I dove in.
This is the best science thriller I ve read this year Maybe ever.
You might think a PhD level science story would be short on thrills You d be wrong You might think a book by a certifiable genius might be hard to read You d be wrong You might think, this is gonna hurt my brain the way A Brief History of Time hurt my brain You d be wrong Well, some of you.
Every scientific concept in Petroplague is not only accessible, it s crystal clear Not like other science thrillers where you just go along with it You know what I mean, those trace evidence stories that have you skimming through arcane bits about molecular science, accepting them because you re afraid they re so full of baloney that knowing better would ruin the book you just paid 15 for Petroplague is not like that Not at all It not only makes sense, it teaches you everything you need to know to grasp the story and then some.
Plausibility, originality, and thrills make the thriller.
Realistic details create plausibility James Rollins said, If you get the location of the Starbucks in Kathmandu exactly right, it buys you enough credibility to make the reader believe in telepathic marsupials Doctor Rogers goes well beyond that standard In easy to follow theories, she builds your understanding of exactly why modern society will inevitably collapse Half way through, you ll be running for your doomsday bunker You don t have one You will after you read this book Her scenario is not only plausible, it s real.
originality, the second component of a great thriller, is where our new fave author shines Remember how your interest in apocalyptic nuclear scenarios waned when the Berlin Wall came down Professor Doctor Amy Rogers offers an original scenario so incredibly realistic as it spills off the pages that you ll want to top off your tank and get busy on that bunker If gasoline no longer worked, civilization as we know it would break down Throughout this thrilling novel, that fact is brought home in tossed details like airplanes falling from the sky and emergency responders unable to respond Petroplague takes your notions of the apocalypse and turns them upside down We are one bacteria mutation away from meltdown.
Above all, thrillers have to thrill There are passages in this book that will not let you put it down Even though the heroine of this story, a lowly grad student named Christina Gonz lez, never kills anyone unusual for a thriller, I know she keeps readers on the edge of their seats from the early going Her friends make heroic transformations, the villains step ever lower on the rungs of villainy, and the love interest blossoms um, organically Every decision the characters make is the one you would have made And every danger they face an unpredictable, yet logical twist And every page you turn, another heart stopping thrill.
The best thing about reading any book is the learning aspect I like to feel just a little smarter for having read a book It s the education factor that keeps me coming back to authors like James Rollins and Clive Cussler I have to consult Wikipedia before, during, and after reading Rollins books I know about the explanations at the back of the book but those are like letting the fox guard the henhouse, don t you think And let s just go with whatever Mr Cussler tells us about history, OK What you get with Harvard grad, Professor Doctor Amy Rogers, PhD is not a little smarter you get a whole new education on diverse topics such as bacteria, geology, doomsday cults, petroleum reserves, dependence and much.
It even made me smarter.
I know, right At the dinner table, I was able to tell my two teenagers, Did you know Syntrophus converts into hydrogen, acetic acid and carbon dioxide You can imagine their expressions And later, during an elegant dinner party at a mansion, I casually worked into the conversation, The most valuable hydrocarbons in petroleum are simple straight chain alkanes like hexane A real show stopper, that Our hostess responded by saying, Uh huh Anyway, Nieman s shoes are five percent off tomorrow I gotta find new swine for these pearls if I m going to keep reading Amy Rogers While I make light of it here, underlying those anecdotes is the fact that I understood those important concepts while reading the story It is her ability to make us comprehend complex models that separates Amy Rogers from all other science authors.
If you like Kathy Reichs, Patricia Cornwell, James Rollins, Jeffery Deaver, or any other science leaning thriller, you will love Petroplague and Amy Rogers To quote a line from Petroplague, it is the work of a meticulous, original thinker Best science thriller of the year If you are the science thriller evangelist in your circle of friends, read and recommend this book Peace, Seeley James PS I twisted her considerable degrees around for fun Her resume is actually Harvard undergraduate in Biochemical Sciences MD PhD from Washington University and former biology professor at California State University And now, GREAT author.
PPS I opened James Rollins BLOODLINE and read the acknowledgments Who was listed there Who is among Rollins pre release readers Yep Amy Petroplague