Ancestor - Scott Sigler

Genre: Science Fiction/Horror
Synopsis: On a remote island in Lake Superior, scientists struggle to solve the problem of xenotransplantation -- using animal tissue to replace failing human organs. Funded by the biotech firm Genada, Dr. Claus Rhumkorrf seeks to recreate the ancestor of all mammals. By getting back to the root of our creation, Rhumkorrf hopes to create an animal with human internal organs. Rhumkorrf discovers the ancestor, but it is not the small, harmless creature he envisions. His genius gives birth to a fast-growing evil that nature eradicated 250 million years ago — an evil now on the loose, and very, very hungry.


Review: I've been so torn about the rating for this one. Part of me, seeing other books I've given 4s or 5s to, makes me feel this is on par with other 5s. At the same time, I didn't come away from it *quite* as satisfied as I did with those, even though all have the odd flaw or shortcoming. Basing it purely on enjoyment, I have to give this a 4. I loved it, but there was a definite drop-off in excitement towards the end that meant it just barely failed to haul itself over the 5 line.

Anyway, I'm getting slightly ahead of myself. Having read a YA dystopia/sci-fi novel by Sigler, and having loved it for the most part, I decided to give one of his adult horror-ish books a go, and chose this one on the basis of its amazing premise. And I really did love it. There is a solid two thirds of perfect book, here. It did take me quite a while to realise that the majority of this book is about journey of bringing the experiment to fruition, as opposed to the fallout of playing God, so I'd be inclined to point that out to potential readers. Fortunately, the journey was super well written, fascinating, disturbing, and very entertaining. Based in (relatively) plausible science from what I can tell, this story doesn't employ any spacey concepts or overly futuristic technology in a story featuring the first ever entirely human-created animal. Naturally, it goes horrendously wrong.

I liked all of the characters - I loved Jian, liked the others. A few caricatures thrown in but everybody played their parts well. There's a great running gag related to the aspirational author Gunther, and there's also a spunky little dog so perfectly written you just know she comes from the mind of a dog-owner. I suspect, based on an author's note, she actually lived, once. All of this is definitely secondary to the science fiction aspects of the story, which later turn to horror. At that point, the pace of the novel and quite broadly the feel of the novel, change. And I didn't feel any momentum. Relying now on the alright characters facing underwhelming monsters, there wasn't a huge amount left to be fascinated by. In fairness, the monsters were so built up for so long, it was always going to be hard to follow through with anything truly horrifying. I also thought, based on the synopsis, that they were going to be a creature that actually existed millions of years ago - nature didn't eradicate this evil, it's a random mis-mash of features created by a bonkers scientist.

All in all, I loved the first two thirds enough to say I loved the book, even if I wasn't blown away by the last bit.

Rating: 4/5

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