I can’t help but compare Davis Bunn’s “Rare Earth” to its precursor- “Lion of Babylon.” If you read the first book and enjoyed it, then you will like “Rare Earth” – and you’ll probably like it more. If you’re familiar with Bunn’s work, then you know he is skilled at depicting believable settings; the reader can almost feel the oppressive heat and the bleak hopelessness of a Kenyan refugee camp or city slum, where most of the story plays out. The plotline is engaging and keeps you reading; covert operative Marc Royce sets out to find a missing aid worker and in doing so uncovers a hidden international scheme to monopolize rare minerals used in advanced technologies. He also falls in love along the way, though the romance is pretty weakly developed. As with “Lion of Babylon”, this book is not so suspenseful that it will keep you up at night, but it is action-packed, contemporary, and entertaining. Also like “Lion of Babylon”, “Rare Earth” is weak on character development. Though you would not need to read the first book to understand and enjoy this one, you will be left with no mental picture of Marc Royce, the main character (you wouldn’t have found it in the first book either), and you will not get any introduction or background about him…you’ll simply have to accept that he’s amazingly capable, indeed, divinely anointed, in all he does. I find myself frequently picturing a Christian version of some action movie spy hero, say Jason Bourne or Jack Bauer, for lack of any character description or introduction. I think this is why, in general, I don’t feel any real connection with Bunn’s characters- you don’t really get to know them, you simply read about them. The true book lover will know what I mean by that!
Ultimately, “Rare Earth” is a better book than “Lion of Babylon”. The conflict is better, and not so effortlessly resolved, making it more believable and slightly more suspenseful. Without a doubt there will be a third book and I’ll read it when it comes, if only because they seem to keep getting better every time. Despite some weaknesses, Bunn is a strong writer when it comes to plot and setting, and for that reason I really enjoy his writing.
I received a complimentary copy of this book for review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.