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Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
James Rollins
(Based on the story by George Lucas & Jeff Nathanson, and the screenplay by David Koepp)

Del Rey, 330 pages

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
James Rollins
James Rollins is the bestselling author of a number of previous novels: Subterranean, Excavation, Deep Fathom, Amazonia, Ice Hunt, Sandstorm, Map of Bones, Black Order, The Judas Strain and The Last Oracle. He has a doctorate in veterinary medicine and his own practice in Sacramento, California. An amateur spelunker and a certified scuba enthusiast, he can often be found either underground or underwater.

James Rollins Website
ISFDB Bibliography

Past Feature Reviews
A review by David Maddox

Stalwart adventurous everyman, Indiana Jones explores mysterious jungles, battles angry natives, treks through treacherous temples and outwits ancient traps in the hopes of uncovering mysterious artifacts and ancient secrets. Armed only with a whip, a hat and his courage, he journeys through worlds that audiences and fans can only dream of. His adventures have spanned three feature films, video games, novels and many other elements of multi-media. News of a fourth feature film bounced around for decades and when LucasFilm finally began production last year, audiences were on the edge of their seats in anticipation.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull met with mixed reviews from fans and film critics alike. Some were overjoyed at seeing the hero back on the big screen, others felt it was lacking the magic of the first three films. Many enjoyed the extra-dimensional Central American mythology, some couldn't get behind the concept. Overall the film did well and James Rollins found himself with the task of translating the story to novel format.

The novelisation of the film actually holds up very well. Indy is no stranger to the written medium, LucasFilm having themselves licensed several adventures of the famed archaeologist back in the 90s, telling his tales in the 20s leading up to the events of the film. But taking a story like Crystal Skull and changing it for the printed page is not that easy a task. First off, Indy is much older and his perspective and rash bullheadedness have mellowed a little. Plus, add in the already formed perceptions of fans. Luckily, Rollins manages to capture the essence of the hero quite well, making allusions to previous adventures but definitely setting him in the 50s. Perhaps more so than the film, this novel manages to convey the Red Scare and fear of government that permeated those days. It's very clear that this is no longer the 30s, the world is changing and Indy is trying to hold his own against it.

The story flows incredibly well, from the initial revelation of Area 51, to a much more humorous Lost Ark cameo. The trip through the countries and Indy's friendship with Mutt Williams are nicely fleshed out. Plus Dr. Irina Spalko becomes a much more three dimensional character. Dovchenko, her muscle-bound henchman gets quite a lot of inner monologue, bringing him out as a much more interesting character and George 'Mac' McHale is given a bit more back-story, and some better redemption than came across on screen.

As the DVD prepares to hit shelves, now is a good to time pick up the novel and get a little more insight into the story, maybe even looking at it from a different angle. If you're an Indy-phile, this book is a necessity for the collection. But even if you're just a fan, it's a fun action adventure romp, with a hero who is familiar as an old pair of shoes… or a battered fedora.

Copyright © 2008 David Maddox

David Maddox
Science fiction enthusiast David Maddox has been many things, including Star Trek characters and the Riddler in a Batman stunt show. He holds a degree in Cinema from San Francisco State University, and has written several articles for various SF sites as well as the Star Wars Insider and the Star Trek Communicator. He spends his time working on screenplays and stories, acting on stage and screen and giving tours at Universal Studios Hollywood.

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