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Saturday, August 19, 2006

This blog is going up late -- because I couldn't finish the book. That is...I could have finished The Eight any time in the last week, but I kept slowing down and making myself savor it.

To be blunt, there are many romantic suspense novels that sound wonderful but that I can't read. I really don't like blood. I don't like to think that there is a weirdo crouched in the bushes outside my house thinking that I am his mother or his lover or a witch and planning to do nasty things with a knife. Basically, I don't care for men who choose to spend their lives killing women, and I don't want to spend time between the pages of a book with them, any more than I would choose to do so in my normal life.

But that doesn't mean I don't love thrillers. They just have to be the right kind, the kind that are Not TOO Real. Too real, for me, is some weirdo hiding outside the 7-11. Not too real, for me, is a thrilling novel that involves huge leaps in scientific or technological knowledge. In which the good guys are fighting to prevent the end of the world or unfathomably large consequences along those lines.

You guys already know that James Rollins writes this kind of book. Some people say that Dan Brown does as well, but frankly, The Da Vinci Code was just too full of strange coincidences for me. Then a friend steered me to this book.

Katherine Neville's The Eight has (according to the cover) been a best-seller in every country in the world and listed in Spain as one of the ten best books ever written, so I guess I came to the party late. But really -- this is an amazing book. It weaves a bit of science, a bit of math, a bit of chess, a wholloping amount of suspense, some gorgeous descriptions of places ranging from New York to Algeria to 18th century France. There's a love story in there too -- between a brilliant chess genius and the heroine.

I can hardly describe it, but it involves a worldwide search for a chess set whose inscriptions hide a secret of such tremendous power that its formula, once deciphered, would literally change what it means to be human. The world would change almost as an afterthought.

The book is absolutely fantastic! If you're a fan of fun, literate, not overly intellectual but definitely smart, thrillers -- go get The Eight. You'll love it. The one comment that I am compelled to make is that it was Katherine Neville's first book. Consequently she put in a bit too much of "Little did I know that as I drove up the whatever..." I can forgive her that because her plot is so intricate, her prose so beautiful, and her ideas so scary. The whole book reminded me of a Mary Stewart novel -- (I am absolutely certain that Neville must be a fan!) -- but it's a Stewart novel grown to four times its length.

If you happen to be a Stewart fan, as I am, run to the store! Any one know of other thrillers along these lines that I should read? Because (sob), I just finished The Eight..

Eloisa James, 10:30 AM