Book Review: Thunderhead

Title: Thunderhead
Author: Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
Format: Audiobook
Reader: Scott Brick
Publisher: Hachette Audio
Publication Date: August 3, 2010
Source: My local public library


Nora Kelly, a young archaeologist in Santa Fe, receives a letter written sixteen years ago, yet mysteriously mailed only recently. In it her father, long believed dead, hints at a fantastic discovery that will make him famous and rich—the lost city of an ancient civilization that suddenly vanished a thousand years ago. Now Nora is leading an expedition into a harsh, remote corner of Utah’s canyon country. Searching for her father and his glory, Nora begins to unravel the greatest riddle of American archeology. But what she unearths will be the newest of horrors..

–From Goodreads

My Thoughts:

When I was in high school I would devour thrillers like they were candy. My appetite for them was seemingly endless…until I went to college. Then it was time to read serious, important, thought-provoking literature (on top of my engineering textbooks) because that’s serious, studious students do. Right? Right. Needless to say, I thought my days of binging on thrillers were behind me. Then, I read Await Your Reply, which was a REALLY good book but was a brutally slow read (well “listen” since it was the audiobook) for me. After that I needed something lighter, something that would “sweep me away” (in a non-romance novel kind of way). Enter Thunderhead.

The story opens with Nora Kelly, a young archeologist who receives a letter from her (deceased) father dated 16 years ago. In it, he details how he has found Quivira, the lost City of Gold. Nora, who is a struggling academic, puts together a team and heads to Utah’s Canyon Country to try to locate it. When they finally arrive at their destination, Nora and the team encounter obstacles, both internal and external, and what they find surprises them all (and me too).

After struggling through Await Your Reply, this novel was a much needed change of pace. The drama/suspense in the story hooked me right away, and I never found myself having those “oh get to the point already!!!” moments like I did with Await Your Reply. Although certain aspects of the story are somewhat predictable, there were a few surprising plot twists I didn’t see coming. Additionally, I have also always really loved the natural beauty of the American Southwest, and I really liked how the authors made liberal use of the setting. Finally, I also enjoyed learning about the history and the culture of the Anasazi people–I like feeling like I’m learning things while I’m reading fiction.

But as usual there were some things I didn’t really like…this is a “dreaded 3 star review” after all. The thing that bothered me the most was the characters–there are just too many of them. I seriously couldn’t keep them all straight!! I’m sure many, many people would be required for the type of archeological expedition outlined in this novel…but I’m not sure I needed to read about all of them. There were so many complicated back stories and people who seemed to have overlapping roles, and for the longest time I found myself asking “now who is he again?!”. Eventually I just gave up trying and went along for the ride. In addition to having too many characters, I  felt like the ones I could actually keep track of were pigeon-holed into stereotypical (and boringly predictable) roles. There was the young struggling academic, the rich girl with a chip on her shoulder and a lot to prove, the shrewd and cunning journalist, the wise financial backer who knows more than he lets on…you get the picture. I just wanted one of them to step out of their prescribed roles and surprise me, but sadly that never happened.

Overall, Thunderhead is an entertaining thriller that mixes history and archeology with some good ole fashioned suspense. While it’s not a great work of literature by any means, I would definitely recommend it if you are looking for something fun to read!

What Others Had To Say:

*Let me know if you have posted a review of this book that I missed!

My Review In Four Lines:

  1. Rating: 3.5/5 stars
  2. What I liked: The unexpected plot twists and learning about history of the Anasazi people
  3. What I didn’t enjoy as much: I felt there were too many characters and that they were pigeon-holed into stereotypes.
  4. I would recommend this book for: People who like thrillers or books involving archeology/history


Linking up with Blonde…Undercover Blonde for Book Club Friday.

Note: I did not receive any compensation whatsoever for this book review.

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 1.0 | Ex Libris

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