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Adrenaline    by John B. Olson order for
by John B. Olson
Order:  USA  Can
Bethany, 2003 (2003)

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* *   Reviewed by Melissa Parcel

James Parker and his sister Jenny have suffered from muscular dystrophy much of their lives. Jenny is deteriorating so rapidly that the doctors feel the end is near. James, a graduate student in biochemistry, desperately seeks a cure for the disease that is taking their health, and will ultimately take their lives. Another graduate student, Darcy Williams, has a great deal to hide, and a threat from her past appears to have tracked her down. She and Parker join forces to complete the synthesis of Adrenaline 355, the compound that is turning laboratory mice, previously debilitated with muscular dystrophy, into 'Mighty Mice.' Can they develop a cure for the disease in time to save Jenny's life? Will those who want to use the drug for evil manage to steal it?

Adrenaline is a thriller that combines medical research with heart-pounding action and adventure. Parker and Darcy's characters create a great deal of sympathy. Multiple twists and turns will make you wonder if anyone is exactly who you think they are. But a few things bothered me. It's not clear whether the book is set in the present day or in the future. Incidents that made me think it was a futuristic tale weren't explained. For example, violent criminals are drugged with something called 'glass' which makes them weak and non-threatening. Though it's a central issue to the storyline, the reader isn't enlightened. The other problem was that the author tries to trick the reader into thinking that bad people are good and vice versa so much that I became wary of all the characters.

John Olson has a PH.D in biochemistry, and deftly incorporates his knowledge into the plot, making complex ideas understandable. Readers will be challenged to think about medical ethics, research, and the power of medical breakthroughs in new ways. The chapters are short and tension is high throughout. It is difficult to put this book down because you will want to know the final outcome ... if only so you can stop holding your breath! Although this thriller is published by a Christian book publisher, there are few religious references (main characters occasionally pray for protection and deliverance). Adrenaline has wide appeal to anyone who enjoys a tightly written futuristic medical thriller.

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