Rich's Reviews > Directive 51

Directive 51 by John Barnes
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Oct 29, 11


How not to do an end of the world book.

This book was bizarre. Part end of the world thriller, part end of the world political theorizing on what kind of government will survive, it blends sci-fi with futurism and gets none right. First, the goal of the eco-terrorists are never really explained (other than they want to "start over") Some of the positive reviews confuse the idea with the execution. The idea of such a group is intriguing, but the author never examines the ramifications of their decision despite having one of the eco-terrorist be a point of view character. The character never considers the effects of his actions, and whether millions dying for his actions weigh on his soul. In fact, by the end, it seems he has a pretty sweet deal, which is morally ambiguous. Even when people find out he was one of the ones that collapsed society, they are pretty blase about it. I would think it would be more interesting if people were actually pissed. (ya think) This lack of reflection ruined the book for me. There is no examination of these people, they are not righteous, religous, or guilty, its just "hey we killed millions of people, might have sucked, but I have a sweet deal, so it doesn't suck too bad" huh? What is the point of this character if you aren't going to examine his motivations and whether he feels guilty?

The internet explanation of system artifacts is gobbledygook and even after a lengthy explanation and exposition, I still didn't get it and it became boring. Unlike a movie that cuts exposition, a book should be able to explain its concepts (author has all the time and pages he and his editor wants) and the explanation left me saying "huh?".

The second half of the book devolves into a political thriller of who gets to be president, and its boring and really doesn't connect well to the first half. The characters in the second half are one dimensional to the extremes. One president seems to be Mr. Pork, which is absurd under the circumstances. Millions are dying and the world is going to hell, but he wants contracts for his district..right. There may be a political point the author is trying to make, but this wasn't the story to make it. It came off as ridiculous anyone would really act like this.

Finally, alot of the action happens bizarrely "off screen" millions are starving and dying and its conveyed by reports in Washington..wow exciting. I get the author wants to concentrate on the political intrigue and the whole directive 51 thing, but its being told instead of being shown or described, which is not exciting.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Christopher Clark "The idea of such a group is intriguing, but the author never examines the ramifications of their decision despite having one of the eco-terrorist be a point of view character. "

Uh, I think you missed the whole point Barnes was trying to make. The point is they didn't think it through, just did it! He shows that when, right after their part of Daybreak, they lament for a strong President, etc.


Robert 'Rev. Bob' "It came off as ridiculous anyone would act like this."

Have you been watching politics lately? There's a lot of what I would call clinical insanity going on in Washington; I easily bought the notion that one out-of-touch lifelong politician couldn't fathom the idea of dropping election-style politics in favor of statesmanship.


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