There are a lot of thrillers these days using environmental issues as the potential threat to the world. It makes a lot of sense that screwing with the balance of nature has some interesting potential when it comes to the villain of the piece as it could be anybody, and the motive is nearly always a power / money grab which is extremely believable.
THE ALO RELEASE tackles the question of genetically modified seeds. Combining as it does technology that is difficult to understand, high stakes corruption and media manipulation, with people behaving very badly, it's the sort of scenario designed to raise the hair on the back of your neck instantly.
Characterisations on both the good and the bad side in this novel are pretty good - the likelihood of an every day small group being the only people able to circumvent disaster is believable, and the bad guys nicely menacing without resorting to over the top antics. Taking the action to New Zealand (the author's home country) happens seamlessly and allows the author to intertwine some nice messaging about that country, to say nothing of a bit of a travelogue along the way.
The only downside is possibly that it does get a little too "here we go again" at points. Once everyone arrives in New Zealand there is a feeling of "new chapter" / "new challenge" that the good group must overcome which has a sense of repetition or expectedness to it that jars a little. A little too processional, it came across as a spot of over-egging in what is otherwise a darn good mix of character and action, place and time which works in an unexpected setting for a big world-wide threat set-up.
It's great to see something as topical as genetic modification of food crops set in somewhere that's not normally known as a big threat / big risk location. Cleverly done, THE ALO RELEASE is a thriller with a message at it's heart, and well worth a read regardless of where you are in the world.