Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Book Review: DNA

This book wasn't originally on my reading list, but at some point I got on a mailing list that offered me review copies of books. Most of them I ignore without a second though (how many self help book BS do I really need?), but the tag line for DNA by W. Craig Reed caught my eye: It reads, "Intelligent Design or Darwin's Evolution? Discovering the truth can be fatal..."

Oooh. Sounds like it would be a campy religious bit of nonsense invoking the typical arguments from incredulity to posit design.

I thought it'd at least be good for a laugh, so I requested a copy.

The book was not what I expected at all.

Instead of being a piece espousing religion, it's a suspenseful mystery book about some Islamic terrorists who recruit leftover Cold War scientists to develop a biological weapon. In other words, it's built on cliche.

And the hackneyed plot doesn't end there. There's frequent twists and turns worthy of a daytime soap opera with characters dying and coming back to life with amnesia and plastic surgery or others having taken on a half dozen different roles thanks to being masters of disguise. It works in an "elixir of life" which allows a character to get shot 9 times and walk away. It even worms in references to 2012 nonsense and a reference to Planet X.

So where does the "Intelligent Design" come in? It works its way in about 1/2 way through the book as a bunch of scientists laugh (rightfully) at Behe and Dembski. It's an odd exchange and probably wouldn't make a lick of sense to anyone not familiar with the ID movement. But the the entire concept disappears until the last 5 pages of the book when yet another ridiculous plot twist pops up:


Space aliens "intelligently designed" humans to mine gold and platinum to make the elixir of life.



All in all, this book tries way too hard. The basic plot, if stripped of all the silly subplots and nonsense, would be an engaging read. The author does the action reasonably well and is very knowledgeable on his military what nots (being an ex-SEAL). But, as it stands the gratuitous woo factor ruined it.

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