By Matthew Reilly
I picked this up in a charity shop just before Christmas. I hadn't heard of Matthew Reilly before but it sounded like a good fast-paced thriller - the sort of story I could easily lose myself in when I needed a bit of respite from all the chaos around me during my house renovations. The fact that it is set in Antarctica also had something to do with its attraction.
Within a couple of pages I was hooked and managed to read all 704 pages in the space of a few days. The story starts when a remote (even for Antarctica) research station puts out a distress call - the residents think they have found an alien spacecraft buried in the ice sheet and the group of scientists they sent into a cavern to investigate failed to return.
A group of American marines are sent to investigate but find the threat of death by alien to be the least of their worries. They come under attack by commandos from other countries eager to claim the extra-terrestrial prize for themselves, by killer whales, nuclear enhanced seals, and rogue elements from their own side. The action is a non-stop roller-coaster of thrills and spills and as long as you suspend any sense of incredulity it's a great ride.
This book is just begging to be turned into an extreme Hollywood action thriller and was actually optioned by Paramount. The screenplay was written but then they let the option expire; maybe because they realised the difficulty and cost it would entail to do the story justice? The special effects and stunts required would make the Die Hard and James Bond films seem sedate by comparison. I really hope someone takes the plunge though as this would be a film I'd really like to see.
This book is by no means high literature but as far as easy, captivating reads go, it's one of the best books I've read in a while.