Reader reviews for The Judas Strain: A Sigma Force Novel

I have to admit that I'm a die-hard James Rollins fan. Cracking open his new book is one of the highlights of my summer. Sure his action can be a bit over-the-top and a few details slightly hyperbolic, LOL. I mean, what's a thriller without the thrills? But the books are consistently well-researched, deftly plotted, and very, very smart. Probably my favorite aspect of Rollins' thrillers is their integration of science into the story. After all, his team of protagonists, the Sigma Force, is part of a government agency that recruits former special forces operatives and educates them to the Ph.D. level in scientific disciplines. They've got both the military training and the scientific knowledge to investigate technological and scientific phenomenon around the world on behalf of the US government. Not a bad starting premise. The plots of Rollins' novels tend to be complex, multi-stranded affairs that are difficult to summarize. In Judas Strain, as has been noted by other readers, there is an urgency brought on by a possible pandemic outbreak of bacterial infections. That, in and of itself, is not the most original plot. But in a Rollins novel, it's never that simple. Did you know that only 10 percent of the cells that make up your body are human, and the other 90 percent are alien--bacteria, parasites, etc? It's true, absolutely true. Did you know that the difference between a commonplace, harmless bacteria and a potential killer disease is just the tiniest alteration to its genetic code? What would happen if something altered all the zillions of harmless bacteria we have contact with daily and suddenly they turned on us in the most horrific way imaginable? And I do mean the most horrific way imaginable, because James Rollins is a bit of a sicko, and nothing seems to be off limits for him. What he puts his poor "patient zero" through is--yuck--awful! But what does all this have to do with the travels of Marco Polo? The architecture of Angor Wat? The behavior of red crabs on Christmas Island? The development of "Angelic" text? The religious beliefs of cannibals? How the heck does Rollins COME UP WITH all this stuff? And most impressively, how the heck does he tie all the strands together! Because he does, most satisfyingly. Although, it must be warned that The Judas Strain leaves readers with a simply terrible cliff-hanger that will have us all on tenterhooks until next summer. Waiting for the next book in the series is going to be torture!
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I picked this book up for a few dollars in passing and I have to say it was fantastic. Of course, all of the usual thriller books are far-fetched in terms of the main characters survival ability, but put that aside and the plot was wonderfully imaginative. The book focuses on an elite US force called Sigma and a large international cabal called The Guild who are always battling each other. Rollins does an awesome job of twisting both a historical plot and a scientific plot around Marco Polo's travels that took place throughout the 13th century. The historical arm of the book has a lot of research into the story of Marco Polo and a horrific disease they encounter during his travels returning from Asia. History repeats itself and causes both the Sigma and Guild scientific groups to cross paths working in the modern day to figure out the mystery disease before its too late. Great blend of both science and history. Great book.
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Loved it. I've been very busy lately and haven't been able to really get into a book. Couldn't put this down. Three storylines interwoven well, fast moving, interesting science and history background.
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I have to admit there are always some parts of James Rollins' books that I find cheesy, but I really look forward to reading his books because I think he's a great storyteller. The Judas Strain was a great addition to the Sigma Force novels because I like the character development and stories of Gray, Painter, Kat and Monk.
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Great book. Kind of a cross between The Davinci Code and a Clive Cussler novel
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At the end of Marco Polo’s Expedition he runs into a deadly virus that causes skin rashes and drives the inflicted into a mad frenzy, either killing them outright or turning them against the survivors. The fleet returns to Europe with only 18 members and never speaks of the plague they found. Several hundred years later the same virus turns up on Christmas Island, off the coast of Australia. Together, Sigma, a guild member and the Vatican must follow the trail of clues cross continental, while racing against other operatives and time as the diseases takes more lives. Judas Strain is filled with pirates, cannibalism, action, and a good mix of science and history (although stretched). I am looking forward to the fifth book in the series- The Last Oracle and will be diving into it next.
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Fast paced - easy "summer" read - Rollins' novels have just enough factual content to make them somewhat plausible. Always an enjoyable - light experience.
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The Judas Strain by James Rollins is a SIGMA story. It is a very good adventure / mystery tale. The book is a fun read and well worth the purchase price.
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A fun ride, especially if you're into virology. Rollins delivers action, a touch of romance and some somewhat questionable but interesting science... an easy read without being insulting. Rollins seems to be honing his craft with each successive book.
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The Judas Strain suffered from several problems. First, too much of the action was simply too over the top. I love wild action as much as anybody, but for some reason I found myself shaking my head too often. Second, for me the story actually bogged down in the shifts of point of view from one group of characters back to the other; sometimes, I felt as if the author was primarly trying to extend the story but wasn't really saying anything new. Finally, I found the scientific/fantastic elements of the actual story a bit far-fetched. Maybe that's just me, but I felt that Rollins simply went "a bridge too far" in his ideas and the book seemed to leave the realm of the plausible thriller to speculative science fiction.
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