Phew! I didn't know if I would be able to do it this year, but I did it! I grabbed Bloodline at the bookstore at 9am yesterday, spent three hours reading while my MIL was working her gardening job in the morning, and got over halfway through it in that time. Then later, after we wrapped up for the day, I was able to finish the book. When I first realized that the release date coincided with our massive cleaning/organizing project, I wasn't sure if I was going to be over there all day every day. So I was quite excited that I actually had the time to read this book all in one day, like I have in the past.
Now onto the book itself . . .
This is a GREAT addition to the Sigma Force series, quite possibly my favorite one yet. James Rollins is, hands down, my favorite thriller writer. His primary objective is to entertain, which he always does. His secondary objective is to educate and raise questions. Bloodline deals with the moral implications of advancing science and technology, specifically when it comes to extending human life. It also brings events that have been building for the past several books to a thrilling climax.
All of the core characters of the series get in on the action. Gray is still torn between his work and his family, and dealing with the fallout of recent events. Painter is playing things very close to the chest, wrestling with some of his decisions as friction and doubt build up around him. It was really fun to see Kat back in the field; though she's always been around, we haven't seen her in action much since Map of Bones. And of course there's Seichan, my favorite. She's such a shadowy character, so it's always interesting to get more development for her.
Kane, though, is a new character, and he really steals the show. He's a military dog, and I loved pretty much everything about him in this book. I love the bond that he and his handler share. I love how we get to see him being a soldier, but also at times just being a dog (interacting with a child, or enjoying the wind and sea spray on a boat). And I love the few scenes from his point of view. I thought this was a risky move, and they could have become really gimmicky, but for me they totally work. Rollins keeps these scenes to a minimum, and I think they're stronger because of it. Kane's perspective is more about emotion and instinct than actual thoughts, and even though I have no way of getting into a dog's head to see what it's really like, it feels very genuine to me.
As for the story itself, it's definitely a page-turner. The science is intriguing. The action is compelling. There are doses of humor along with moments of intensity. And while the basic story -- the kidnapping of a pregnant woman and the significance of her unborn child -- would make a great thriller on its own, the ultimate payoff is so much greater when you've been reading about the conflict between Sigma Force and the Guild for eight books!
Well done, Mr. Rollins, and keep 'em coming!