Narrated by: Fred Sanders, Noel Rodriguez
Published by Random House, Random House Audio on Aug 7, 2012
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Thriller
Format: Audiobook from Library
Find the book: Amazon, Goodreads
For decades, December 21, 2012, has been a touchstone for doomsayers worldwide. It is the date, they claim, when the ancient Maya calendar predicts the world will end.
In Los Angeles, two weeks before, all is calm. Dr. Gabriel Stanton takes his usual morning bike ride, drops off the dog with his ex-wife, and heads to the lab where he studies incurable prion diseases for the CDC. His first phone call is from a hospital resident who has an urgent case she thinks he needs to see. Meanwhile, Chel Manu, a Guatemalan American researcher at the Getty Museum, is interrupted by a desperate, unwelcome visitor from the black market antiquities trade who thrusts a duffel bag into her hands.
By the end of the day, Stanton, the foremost expert on some of the rarest infections in the world, is grappling with a patient whose every symptom confounds and terrifies him. And Chel, the brightest young star in the field of Maya studies, has possession of an illegal artifact that has miraculously survived the centuries intact: a priceless codex from a lost city of her ancestors. This extraordinary record, written in secret by a royal scribe, seems to hold the answer to her life’s work and to one of history’s great riddles: why the Maya kingdoms vanished overnight. Suddenly it seems that our own civilization might suffer this same fate.
With only days remaining until December 21, 2012, Stanton and Chel must join forces before time runs out.
This was an exciting, science based story about an epidemic with Mayan ties. It features several characters, but mostly focuses on scientist Dr Gabriel Stanton and Mayan expert Chel Manu as they race to find the source and cure for the epidemic.
I usually love disaster stories, and this was no exception. An epidemic happens very quickly, and so the story must move along at the same speed. I thought that the ending seemed a touch rushed and a little too neat, but the rest of the story was smooth and exciting.
I found the science easy to understand, and thought it was explained at a good level. I learned enough to understand and believe the disease, but not so much that I was bored with the details. One thing I am left with is a desire to read more about Mad Cow disease, and a heighten awareness of how often I touch my face and eyes.
I listened to the audiobook version, and would highly recommend it. It makes the foreign names much easier to understand. For instance, Chel is actually pronounced like Shell, which isn’t how I would have pronounced it in my head if I was reading a print version. I’m sure the other Mayan names would have been butchered in my head as well. The narration itself was smooth and articulate. There was a great flow to the tone and speed.
The interludes with the codex translations were read by a different narrator, and I loved this as it made it easy to differentiate between these parts and the rest of the story. The codex narrator had a voice that was much older and accented, which fit the codex scribe quite well.
Overall, this was an exciting disaster story. I read the author’s other novel, The Rule of Four, before I started reviewing, and while I liked that story, I greatly preferred 12.21. There is a lot more excitement in this book, and while I disagree with some of the author comparisons in the summary, I do love the story. If you like epidemic stories or anything Mayan related, I’d suggest giving this book a try.