Map of Bones is the first book I've read by James Rollins. It was well-researched, and the ideas were entertaining.
That being said, I have a few tiny nitpicks with the book.
- Rollins appears to suffer from Cool Fictitious Character Name Syndrome, to the point that I was eyerolling a bit over some of them, which I felt crossed the line into cheese. Grayson "Gray" Pierce. Rachel Verona (for the female Italian character). Logan Gregory. Painter Crowe. Monsignor Vigor. Kathryn Bryant, who was nicknamed "Kat" possibly for the primary purpose of making a little joke later about "Kat toys." As I say, it's a minor issue, and not something that would prevent me from reading another book in the series, but I did find it smirkworthy.
- Again, it's a tiny thing, and bookmarks work just fine, but I found the structure of the book a little annoying. The chapters are exceedingly long. While they do include time demarcations within them, such as "1:34 pm," it can be hard to feel like one has reached a good stopping place, particularly in an action-packed title like this one.
- There are a few minor typos, grammatical errors, and odd word choices and phrasings. Some of these may be related to formatting the e-book (there are a few places where two words are crushed together without spaces, likethis, for example).
- In my opinion, the climax suffers just a touch from deus ex machina, which I found a bit unsatisfying and vague, given all the detailed information we'd been provided along the way.
- I found both of the romances very tacked-on and ham-handed ... one of them even implausible, given events that transpire in the second half of the book. There was no real need for it, and to me, it felt squeezed-in between the numerous confrontations. Really, it seemed like the author felt obligated to include it in the hope of an eventual Hollywood movie. This is perhaps my most legitimate annoyance with the book.
- I felt that the characters overexplained things frequently: there were numerous bits of dialogue where Monsignor Vigor broke down a puzzle for another character when the reader had figured it out four pages ago. I thought the exposition got a little heavy at times, but I suppose authors these days factor in readers having to put the book down at any given moment and want to make it easy for them to pick it back up without having to flip back to figure out what's going on.
Nitpicks aside, I found the premise of this book quite engaging, and while some plot points and characters are a bit over the top (such as the villain), I think that's okay for a romp in the adventure genre. The theories related to archaelogy, religion, mysticism and alchemy are what really caught me -- for me, that was the best part of the content.
I think Map of Bones is a good choice for a vacation read, if you're looking for something that's interesting without being too mentally heavy. I'd rank it above Dan Brown and perhaps just a hair below some of Preston & Child's better work in terms of overall quality.