Review: The Ovum Factor, by Marvin L. Zimmerman

Title: The Ovum Factor
Author: Marvin L. Zimmerman
Original Publication: 2008
This edition: 2008
ISBN: 9781933538990 / 1933538996

I was initially a little sceptical about this book. “Eco-thriller?” I thought (sceptically). But what the hey, it was free, and so I waited for my copy to arrive in the mail, received it, and eventually read it. Now I’m writing a review. Amazing, isn’t it?

Here’s what the back of the book says:

Destruction of Earth’s ecology threatens the survival of humanity. With time ticking away, a clandestine think tank of leading scientists and world leaders has identified our last hope — the controversial research of a Nobel Prize-winning professor aimed at unleashing the power of a unique molecule that can alter the course of human history.

When David Rose, a young investment banker from New York, is assigned to evaluate the professor’s research, he soon becomes swept up in a whirlwind of international espionage, assassination, and sabotage. David finds himself on a journey that takes him to the unexplored depths of the Amazon in order to fulfill [sic] two ancient prophecies for saving mankind and at the same time to realize his own destiny.

From New York to California, from China to the slums of Rio de Janeiro, and into the Amazon, the search for the mysterious source of this rare molecule will take you into the heart of the unknown and unseen forces of nature.

More or less, this is what happens. I say more or less because, as we know, book jackets aren’t always particularly good at giving accurate assessments of book contents. Jacket blurbs are there to sell books, after all. But this is a fairly accurate descriptor.

The Ovum Factor is a fast-paced and enjoyable read, full of all of the promised intrigue and drama. It’s got all the requirements: science, secret societies, explosions, adultery, secret jungle missions, kidnapping, exotic locales … and you get the picture. It’s fun.

One downside is that the ecological message — OH NOES we are KILLING the EARTH — is pretty heavy-handed, at least in the beginning chapters. It gets toned down as the action takes over, which is a good thing.

I mentioned already how fast-paced this book is. Even the chapters are over quickly; the book is 383 pages long and has 78 chapters. For those of you who are too lazy to do the math (it’s okay; I usually am too), that gives us an average chapter length of just under five pages. Most are actually shorter than that. Chapter twenty-five, for example, is less than a page long. This was a little weird for me — I tend to read lots of giant books with novel-length chapters (Dickens, this means you) — but it does help to keep the action moving. The quick scene changes make this novel seem almost ready to become a screenplay.

Oh, and the book website has pictures.