Thriller Book Review: Kingdom of Bones by James Rollins

Thriller Book Review

Kingdom of Bones
James Rollins 
Publication Date: Apr 19, 2022
Publisher: William Morrow
Genres: Thriller

It was with great trepidation that I delved into Kingdom of Bones. I like James Rollins, and have sincerely enjoyed the few Sigma Force novels I've read, but I wasn't sure I was up for another plague story - a worry that Rollins himself addresses in his introduction. I'd already bailed on a few reads this year because the doom-and-gloom hit a little too close to home, but I trusted the adventure aspects of this to carry me through.

It was a good choice. A very good choice.

Kingdom of Bones is a fantastic piece of storytelling, an adrenaline-fueled adventure thriller that's as though-provoking as it is exciting. There are three threads to the story - the research into the virus, a dangerous rescue mission, and a thrilling search for a cure - and it's the balance between them all that keeps the story moving. It's a quick story, with everything taking place over a matter of days, but it's also a deep one, demanding the reader consider questions of morality and mortality. While there is a human face to the evil, a villain against whom we can rage, the story is more about the greater good and survival of the fittest, with a catalyst we can fear . . . but find hard to question.

Rollins always puts a lot of research into his books, and the way he structures the story, with the conversations he orchestrates between experts and laymen, allows for levels of info-dumping that somehow never seem intrusive. There's a lot of serious discussion here about where viruses come from, how they develop, and what role they might play in the evolution of life, and all of its fascinating. The story also has some interesting things to say about the 'discovery' and colonization of the Congo, with the legend of Prester John at the heart, and I admired how Rollins made respect for tribal cultures and beliefs integral to all aspects of the story.

Where blockbuster adventure novels like this often fail for me is in the climax, which usually comes on too fast, with too many leaps of logic and demands upon our willing suspension of disbelief. Even the best of them rarely deliver in the end, and that's where Kingdom of Bones really distinguishes itself. There are several small climaxes that are part of the overall resolution, and every one of them just works. I liked the ending here, I appreciated it as a reader and as a thinker, and that's all too rare in the genre.

Rating: ♀ ♀ ♀ ♀ 1/2

My sincere thanks to the publisher for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review.