Monday, April 13, 2009

Fossil Hunter

You know how the great books are based off of "What if" premises? Well, try this on: what if Indiana Jones was a woman? What if, instead of an archaeologist, she's a paleontologist who studies ancient whales? And what if she's a Christian caught in the middle of the controversy between evolution and intelligent design?

That's Katie James, the heroine of Fossil Hunter by John Olson. Katie finds her reputation in ruins after a group of fossil poachers destroy a unique whale in Peru. Things only get worse when her demophobia disrupts a seminar and her superiors believe she's questioning evolution. When they also learn she's a Christian, her job is taken away.

But then she's offered a chance: Iraqi shepherds found another fossilized whale and Katie is given the chance to find it and redeem her academic reputation. But there's a fly in the ointment. A rival paleontologist, Nick Murad, is also after the Iraqi whale. Worse, Katie finds herself embroiled in Iraqi politics as Sunni and Shi'ite ministers bicker and argue, especially since one of them doesn't appreciate the implications of Katie's discoveries.

As usual, Olson delivers a great read, an incredible adventure through the deserts of Iraq. Katie is awesome. She has it all: brains, beauty, bravery. She's extremely memorable and, quite frankly, I'd love to see the further adventures of Katie James someday.

What I really appreciate most about this book is Olson's stance on the whole controversy surrounding evolution. I worried that this would be more propoganda, lots of posturing. But Olson really takes a great middle road stance and I appreciate his honesty. More people should read this book and think about what Olson has to say in his final notes.

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