Saturday, January 4, 2014

Cretaceous Sea by Will Hubbell (2002)

Cover blurb

Fasten your seatbelts and remain seated. We’re about to land at the beginning of time.

Paleontology student Rick Clements has been offered a chance to study prehistoric specimens in their natural habitat - not genetically engineered, not state-of-the-art computer generated. They’re real. The most startling breakthrough in science is ready. It’s a time-warp machine that offers the ultimate travel experience for a privileged few - a return to the Cretaceous Period when dinosaurs ruled the earth.

Welcome to Montana Isle, untouched, unspoiled, and unknown.

A group of travelers has arrived at the most astounding resort in history. But their exploration of the past is about to be cut short. The meteor that will turn this paradise of sapphire seas into a wasteland is nearing. And their only chance to make it out alive is somehow survive the disaster that ended the age of the dinosaurs…

My thoughts

Constance Greighton’s father is a jerk, but he is rich jerk, and that has attracted the attention of the mysterious Peter Green. Green, you see, has a time machine, and he wants the elder Greighton to finance his plan to open a luxury resort in late Cretaceous North America.

To sell the businessman on the idea, Green takes Greighton and his daughter back in time to Montana Isle, a small island in the inland sea that once divided the continent. Joining them is Rick Clements, a paleontology student hired for his expertise about the time period. Things go smoothly at first, but what none of the time travelers realize is that the asteroid that ended the Age of Dinosaurs is only a few days away. When it comes crashing down, all hell will break loose.

Cretaceous Sea is a novel with a good idea driving its plot, but the book never really lives up to its potential. One problem is Hubbell doesn’t spend much time fleshing out the Cretaceous world – this is a dinosaur novel with a surprising lack of dinosaurs. Another is that not a whole lot happens within the book’s 340 pages. A good editor could have easily trimmed the novel by 100 pages, which would have resolved many of the book’s pacing problems.

The novel’s two protagonists, Constance Greighton and Rick Clements, are not particularly deep characters, but they are human enough that you care about their plight. And I did enjoy the disaster scenes following the asteroid impact. Cretaceous Sea is not a bad book, it’s just not a particularly memorable one. If anything, it is worth reading for background to its superior sequel, Sea of Time.


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