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The Mayan Resurrection by Steve Alten

Please note The Mayan Resurrection is the direct sequel to The Mayan Prophecy and the following review will likely contain spoilers for those that have not read the first novel.

The prize was our salvation. The price was his soul.

After sacrificing himself to preserve the human race, Michael Gabriel is imprisoned in a torturous, purgatory-like dimension in the Mayan netherworld.

The Mayan prophecy states that the Hero Twins – Michael’s sons Jacob and Immanuel, born to his wife Dominique the year after his entrapment  – must travel to the Mayan realm in their twentieth year to free and resurrect him.

Yet it also carries a warning. Born on the same day as the twins is a dark force that threatens their destiny. This, the Abomination – the female yin to their yang – represents evil in its purest form, and will not yield until they succumb to its temptation.

The 21st December 2012, the winter solstice has come and gone and the prophecised apocalypse has been averted by Michael Gabriel. He has saved all of humanity by sacrificing himself. The Mayan Resurrection picks up a few months after the events in the climax of The Mayan Prophecy and follows the birth, childhood and adolescence of Michael’s twin sons.

Michael and Dominique take a back seat in this novel, as it is Jacob and Immanuel (Manny) that the story focuses on. As sons of the world’s savior, they grow up under intense media scrutiny.  The Twins are worshiped by some, and derided by others.

The brothers are polar opposites of one another. Though they are both hyper-intelligent, Jacob is completely consumed with his mission to travel to the stars and free his father. Manny, meanwhile, has no desire to accept that his fate is predetermined. He wants to live a normal life, as far out of the limelight as is possible.

In this novel the reader is also introduced to the character of Lilith, The Abomination. Raised by a crazed foster grandfather from an early age, she is abused and used by everyone around her. These experiences shape her fragile mind into something terrifying, and she learns that in order to survive, she needs to manipulate and kill. By the time the Twins and Lilith finally meet, she has become a powerful psychotic sociopath.

Like its predecessor, this novel blends South American myths and theology, with intricate thriller action, and a liberal dose of science fiction. I think it is fair to say that the same observation I had with the first book still exists here. If you are a fan of standard action thrillers then you may find the science fiction and Mayan theological elements a trifle far fetched. Personally, I enjoyed this but I can appreciate that not everyone will feel the same way. This is a novel that really does span a couple of genres.

At six hundred and forty two pages the novel does feel a little over long. There seems to be a lot of exposition that I think could have been removed, or at the very least trimmed down. For example, in the midst of a thrilling chase, a group of characters travel to Cape Canaveral but the flow of the story is jarred by multiple pages describing the history of NASA at the Cape. All very insightful, and at another juncture, something I would be happy to read, but I felt that this didn’t really add anything to the story. Some of these inclusions feel like additional padding and they are a trifle unnecessary and only succeed in detracting from the main narrative.

This novel was originally published under the title Resurrection back in 2004. Reviews I’ve read from around that time have bemoaned the fact the science in the novel is somewhat inaccurate. This may well be true, but to honest I don’t really care. When I read a fictional work I am not going to be put off by out of date scientific information, the occasional error, or amendment for dramatic effect. This novel is being sold as is science fiction not science fact, and should be treated as such.

Overall, I enjoyed The Mayan Resurrection. It suffers the unenviable task of being the middle book in a series, but manages to keep up the momentum of the story quite well. Will I be back for the final book? Yes, I think I will. There are enough unanswered questions that have peaked my curiosity and I need to have them answered. Alten’s writing is easy to whizz through, and he is definitely an entertaining storyteller. Yesterday I was talking about this book on Twitter and described it as “600+ pages of apocalyptic, time travel, body swapping, theology bending sci-fi”. If that sounds like your kind of thing, I suggest you check it out.

The Mayan Resurrection is available now from Quercus Books. The Mayan Destiny, will complete the trilogy in March 2012. Nice to see that the final novel will be released well in advance of the end of the world in December 2012.

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