This book had a lot of promising ideas and showed a potential face of terrorism (and counter-terrorism) in our near future. The first half of the book...moreThis book had a lot of promising ideas and showed a potential face of terrorism (and counter-terrorism) in our near future. The first half of the book is quite good and manages to keep you turning the pages to find out what happens. It introduces intriguing characters, technologies and sets up the basic backdrop of the world quite well.
The back half starts to devolve into politics and random events. The main characters seem to be lose life and dimension and become players in the authors game of chess. A game which I stopped caring about long before the endgame. In fact, I fell asleep two nights in a row reading it when I had less than 50 pages to go. (less)
A good read for fans of the Starcraft universe and good backstory for Starcraft II. No spoilers for Starcraft II as this book is set prior to the firs...moreA good read for fans of the Starcraft universe and good backstory for Starcraft II. No spoilers for Starcraft II as this book is set prior to the first game.(less)
A few years after the Zombie plague nearly wiped out all of humanity, an analyst interviews a number of the survivors to get the human story.
My main c...moreA few years after the Zombie plague nearly wiped out all of humanity, an analyst interviews a number of the survivors to get the human story.
My main concern going into this book was that there would be no tension. After all, every interview is with a survivor so we know they aren't going to die. Strangely I found that this didn't matter too much. In one particularly memorable scene a teenage girl with the mind of a four year old tells of how her church was overrun. The idea of sitting in the room listening to her mimic the shouts and cries of the defenders is incredibly chilling. I hope that particular interview makes it into the upcoming film (the interview itself, not just the scene of the church being overrun).
The interviews themselves flow quite well, telling the larger story of the war through the very personal stories is great. Some of the people being interviewed were warriors, some were just survivors. Some of them have seen way too much by the time they are interviewed and we feel their depression quite clearly. Its amazing how little space is needed for the author to get you to feel for each character. Most you only stay with for 4-5 pages and then never revisit.
As with many Zombie works, this one really shines when it focuses on the reactions of the survivors and the zombies themselves fade into a background threat. Some people start out nice and have to harden themselves against ever more desperate neighbors and some start out a bit shady and help bring mankind together to face the threat.
My only complaint was that the end is a little weak. The war kind of peters out and the last section of the book is fairly upbeat.(less)
There are so many elements that should have made me love this book. It's got hackers and war, cryptography and espionage, conspiracies and early compu...moreThere are so many elements that should have made me love this book. It's got hackers and war, cryptography and espionage, conspiracies and early computers. It has Alan Turing (a personal hero).
And yet, somehow, this book failed to impress me overall. This is a shame because some characters and many plot points were really, really good.
Some specific complaints:
* several characters back-stories are very heavily explored. These are great characters but their effect on the overall plot is tangential at best. On the other hand, some characters who are pretty important get almost no treatment at all and whole parts of their story are missing. * there is a secret society mentioned which apparently has just the one member and is not further explored. * there is a key conspiracy that fails utterly to achieve what they were attempting * the details seem to peter out towards the end of the book. It's like the author started with a long outline and began by fleshing out each point into about 50-60 pages. After doing this for a while the author seems to get bored and the page count for each point gets smaller and smaller until it turns into a series of "and this happens" moments. * the key villain keeps changing. To the point where I expect some sort of bad-ass Acts of Vengeance style team-up at the end which is never forthcoming
Having said all of that there were passages in this book that kept me turning pages.
Amy is hot Doug and Bobby are tough as a crate of GI Joes which have been compressed into a single GI Joe Avi, Randy and co are non-entities (along with most people in this timeline apparently) Root is odd (and therefore cool) Lawrence is so out of touch with reality that he may as well not be there except for moments of bizarre clarity and insight which lead him to apparently do nothing at all.
Read it if you really like Stephenson. Otherwise avoid. It's too long for the good bits to make it worth wading through and the pay-off is too small. (less)