“12.21” by Dustin Thomason

If you are a fan of Dan Brown, then you’ll probably like this book. As with the Dan Brown novels I have read (The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons), there were things I liked and things I hated. Well, really just one thing I hated, the ending, but more on that later. Don’t worry, I won’t include any spoilers for those of you thinking about reading the book.

The basic premise of this story is that there is an outbreak of a deadly disease associated with the discovery of an ancient Mayan text, and this all occurs in the days leading up to December 21, 2012, the supposed end of the Mayan calendar that some claim marks the end of civilization. Coincidentally, I watched the film “Contagion” while in the midst of this book and there were some definite parallels, which made me wonder if one had influenced the other.

First, I’ll tell you what I liked about this book. There were definitely some thought-provoking passages and ideas that sparked my interest, particularly regarding the progression of the disease and how it is handled by the medical field. Since Thomason went to medical school and clearly has knowledge in this area, he presented these parts in a way that was believable. I also was intrigued by the linguistic analysis of the glyphs in the Mayan codex and the way the characters deciphered their meaning. I thought that was well done. The actual Mayan mystical stuff didn’t interest me quite as much, probably because I have read books on Mayan prophecy years ago, so there was nothing really new for me there.

There is a great passage in this book that deserves inclusion in this review. It deals with the issue of overspecialization and how the myopic focus on one area stunts the ability to see things holistically.

“In our current obsession with overspecialization, everyone finds smaller and smaller niches, no one ever seeing beyond their own tiny corner of the intellectual spectrum. What a shame it is. How can true genius thrive where there’s so little opportunity for our minds to breathe?” (p. 124)

OK, now to try to explain what I hated about the ending without spoiling it. It was totally unbelievable. While the majority of the story was within the realm of reason, I felt like the ending was ridiculous. Thomason might as well have had Superman fly in to save the day. Usually I have no problem suspending belief, but I was just unable to here.

Overall, I’d rate this book as pretty good. Again, if you like Dan Brown, you’ll enjoy this. If you hate Dan Brown, then don’t even bother reading this one. I suspect you will like it even less.

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