A group of scientists at Genada, a biotech company, manage to recreate the genome of the ancestor of all mammals. They use this genome to impregnate cows to give birth to these ancestors. Their purpose? Xenotransplantation, the science of transplanting animal organs into humans. By using the ancestor, they hope to overcome the usual organ rejection as well as the possible jumping of a virus from one species to another (à la the Bird Flu or H1N1). Fortunately, they successfully implant the ancestor blastocysts into the cows. Unfortunately, the ancestor isn’t quite what they hope it will be.
Scott Sigler has proven yet again why he is such a successful author, hitting the New York Times Bestseller list on the strength of giving away his work. The writing in this book is tight and suspenseful. Sigler slowly draws in the reader, foreshadowing the ending subtly such that you probably wouldn’t realize what he’s doing unless you know the ending. He incorporates elements from his other major print releases, Infected and Contagious, in the form of characters and references to events that take place in those books, which makes for more consistency since all of his novels are set in the same universe. And he even has a character that is going to give away the book he is writing for free (which the main character thinks is a stupid idea). Gotta love meta-commentary!
Like all Sigler books, this one contains lots (and LOTS!) of violence. It’s definitely for a more mature audience because of the descriptive nature of the violence (and because of the language). But it’s still the characters that matter in the book. I can completely sympathize with P.J. Colding’s loss of his wife and not wanting to dishonor her memory by being with another woman. I absolutely cannot stand Andy “The A**hole” Crosthwaite, who believes violence is always the best solution (and is, unfortunately, encouraged to act as he does by his boss, Magnus Paglione). And then there’s Liu Jian Dan, the brilliant but crazy scientist who’s the brains behind the God Machine, the computer that sequenced the ancestor genome. She walks a fine line between being suicidal and getting lost in her work, but Sigler manages to make her a likeable character.
Ancestor was the first book of Sigler’s that I listened to, back when it came out as a free podcast in September 2005 (making me an Original Junkie, although just barely). I even bought the original print version when it came out on April 1, 2007. It’s been my favorite of his books so far, probably because it introduced me into the Siglerverse. So for me to say that this version is even better is certainly quite a statement. The new ending in particular really ties everything together and sets up the possibility of a sequel (which I believe is in the works).
Thriller novels are not my usual genre, but this one definitely kept me on the edge of my seat. Like most of Sigler’s work, I will listen to or read it in any format that it’s released in. From someone who doesn’t do a lot of re-reading of books, that’s certainly high praise indeed!
You can also view the book trailer in full 1080p HD on YouTube here (contains NSFW language).
Rating: 5 / 5 Stars