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The Bone Labyrinth by James Rollins {1.5 Stars}

The Bone Labyrinth by James Rollins is a conspiracy-theory style thriller with enough sci-fi thrown in that I thought it could be a fun story for me. Unfortunately, the plot starts off promising on the sci-fi front and then spirals into everything I dislike in thrillers, including really incorrect science, ridiculous characterization of scientists, and a pretty crazy conspiracy involving the moon. I’m sure fans of thrillers will enjoy the action-packed ride, but if you like sci-fi, I can’t recommend this one.

Note: I received an advanced copy of The Bone Labyrinth from the publisher. Some things may have changed in the final version.

The Bone Labyrinth by James Rollins {1.5 Stars}

The Bone Labyrinth by James Rollins (Sigma Force #11)
Published by William Morrow on Dec. 15th, 2015
Genres: Adult, Thriller
Page Length: 496 pages
How I got my copy: Publisher
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In the remote mountains of Croatia, an archaeologist makes a strange discovery:  a subterranean Catholic chapel, hidden for centuries, holds the bones of a Neanderthal woman. In the same cavern system, elaborate primitive paintings tell the story of an immense battle between tribes of Neanderthals and monstrous shadowy figures. Who is this mysterious enemy depicted in these ancient drawings and what do the paintings mean?

Before any answers could be made, the investigative team is attacked, while at the same time, a bloody assault is made upon a primate research center outside of Atlanta. How are these events connected? Who is behind these attacks?  The search for the truth will take Commander Gray Pierce of Sigma Force 50,000 years into the past. As he and Sigma trace the evolution of human intelligence to its true source, they will be plunged into a cataclysmic battle for the future of humanity that stretches across the globe . . . and beyond.

With the fate of our future at stake, Sigma embarks on its most harrowing odyssey ever—a breathtaking quest that will take them from ancient tunnels in Ecuador that span the breadth of South America to a millennia-old necropolis holding the bones of our ancestors. Along the way, revelations involving the lost continent of Atlantis will reveal true mysteries tied to mankind’s first steps on the moon. In the end, Gray Pierce and his team will face to their greatest threat: an ancient evil, resurrected by modern genetic science, strong enough to bring about the end of man’s dominance on this planet.

Only this time, Sigma will falter—and the world we know will change forever.

1.5 Stars


  • The premise of The Bone Labyrinth was very promising. The idea of splicing Neanderthal DNA with gorilla to see how a hybrid brain differs from a gorilla is a slightly creepy but cool idea. It’s become well established that we humans have Neanderthal DNA in our genomes to this day and it could be that this initial mixing allowed hybrids to think in new ways and progress human cultural development. Sounds awesome right??
  • Despite this being #11 in the Sigma Force series, I had no trouble jumping in and following along. It’s clear there are some character developments that happened previously, but the plot is very much like a mystery TV show where you can follow along with this episode just fine.
  • I liked the main characters of this story and can see how the series characters keep people coming back for more adventures. I can’t say no to a power couple where the woman is just as strong and capable in a fight as the guy!


  • Oh wow conspiracy theories. I’m generally skeptical of conspiracy theories and didn’t get into, say, Da Vinci Code because I just don’t care that much. I was shocked by how deep the second half of this book goes down the rabbit hole of worldwide historical conspiracies….
  • I’m in academia, so little details like being wrong about how funding through the National Science Foundation works and implying that sisters would have written a shared dissertation really irk me. Any academic reading this book would have caught these and been able to easily suggest a more accurate way to tackle that detail.
  • There are a lot of science misconceptions in this book and gaaaaaaaaaah! I’m fine with science fiction stretching the bounds of what we know and even fudging a bit, but it drives me nuts when people look at the universe and think that it is too perfect to be chance. If it wasn’t ‘perfect’ for human life, we wouldn’t be here to notice and perhaps something else would be and think that the universe was perfect for them. It got really crazy when certain numbers were forced to appear all over, when really I could do any sort of numerical manipulation and find the same ‘coincidences’ if I wanted to. Divide and multiply enough and you can get pretty much any number to turn into anything else. It really should be a warning flag when the author’s source for this book is titled “Who Created The Moon?”
  • It’s one thing for your average Joe to go along with the theories espoused in this story, but when cutting edge geneticists also decide that there must be something more going on from basically NO EVIDENCE, I get pissed. These two female geneticists were portrayed as soooooooo stupid and gullible, and that’s not cool.
  • I got pretty uncomfortable with how Chinese people were portrayed in this. The Chinese government is the bad guy, but then there are implications that all Chinese international students in US universities are spies…. Those kids have a hard enough time being so far from home, we don’t need to convince readers that they are evil spies on top of that. Seriously, WTF.


The Bone Labyrinth could have been a fascinating sci-fi thriller, but ended up just another run of the mill conspiracy-filled quagmire of frustrating depictions of science and scientists along with a rather unsatisfying ending. I’m sure long-time fans of this series know what they are getting into and will have a fun time, but anyone thinking this could be a cool science fiction story will be very disappointed. The only reason I finished was because I was already 3/4 done and stuck in a car.

Anya from On Starships and Dragonwings

Have you read this one? What did you think?
– Anya


 The Bone Labyrinth by James Rollins

© 2016, Anya. All rights reserved.


  1. It’s too bad this one went downhill pretty quickly, like you, the concept interested me. I do struggle with sci-fi as it is so I think I will be skipping on this one.
    Alise recently posted…Waiting on Wednesday [53]My Profile

    • Yeah, I guess it would depend on what makes sci-fi not work for you, since it’s pretty light on some aspects of sci-fi that I consider important, but generally just yuck.

  2. I read one book by the author and enjoyed it called Amazonia. It had flaws but was fun. Tried two more and realized this guy only writes one book and it gets old quick. His women are written weak and as you say the science is so bad even this history major can’t take it.
    nathan@reviewbarn recently posted…Pauline’s self-published gems of 2015My Profile

  3. I can see what attracted you to this book. Yeah, it sounds pretty bad. I’m sorry this one wasn’t very good. I like conspiracy theories, but they have to make sense! At least the characters were good? I hope your next read was better!
    Molly Mortensen recently posted…Shadow Hunters Series Episodes One and Two ReviewMy Profile

  4. Incorrect science and ridiculous characterization of scientists is what turned me off his collaborations with Rebecca Cantrell. They made a half-hearted attempt to balance science and faith in their first book, then gave up all pretense of reason and threw their scientific principles out the window in the second. Not sure I’m up for trying him again.

    • Sigh, at least he’s consistent? It was an interesting experiment to try something completely different, but I think I’ve settled that this is not the author for me!

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