Amazonia is the second book I’ve read by James Rollins. The first one was Map of Bones.

I had a lot of problems with this book. First, he used a tired convention — sending a quasi-military group into an unfriendly territory. More of the standard military guys, with standard scientific people — you can pretty much tell who’s going to die and who’s going to live. The ‘and then there was one’ syndrome. Which I’m usually not a fan of (with the exception of the Descent, by Jeff Long).

There was the believability issue. I will always suspend disbelief if the whole framework is grounded in a set of rules. But I found Amazonia’s rules were too much. 120 foot alligators, poison dart piranhas, a rival group that was never noticed by the almost omnipotent tribes of the Amazon….US Rangers who get killed by their stupidity….

There are scenes of action…big action scenes…but without a vested interest in the characters, I just didn’t care. The main character, Nate Rand — never really felt attached to him or anyone else in the expedition.

If there was one major flaw, it was that James Rollins tried to ramp up the tension too much. Strange, but true. He added a plot hook about a strange, incurable disease spreading across the world — and the only hope for a cure was the expeditionary force. So he switched from the Amazon, back to the States, quite frequently. This plot device ended up backfiring — removed the feelings of isolation. I never really felt the characters were in danger that they just couldn’t dial up and get airlifted out of there. If this is a ‘and then there was one’ book (which it was), then completely cut them (and us) off from the world – ala Alien, Aliens, Commando (yes, I realize those are all movies).

I give this 2 poison dart frogs out of 5.