Michelle's Reviews > Digital Fortress

Digital Fortress by Dan Brown
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's review
Aug 28, 2011

it was ok
bookshelves: thriller, adult-fiction

You know how some days you just feel like eating candy? And then more candy, maybe topped off with ice cream, cookies, cake? Some days that is okay. Until you get to about eight o'clock at night, and your body has reached a point that is beyond satiation. And then you think to yourself, just one last cookie. Your stomach is telling you don't do it. It's gurgling and protesting the hours of abuse it has already taken, but you keep thinking about how good that cookie is going to taste. So you do it. You eat it, and you find yourself regretting it almost immediately. You realize, in the end, that it didn't taste that good. In fact, you realized it was far too much, and you wish you could take it back because now, well now you have a full blown case of the stomach aches. And you completely regret your gluttonous behavior.

That is what Digital Fortress feels like...gluttony for your brain. It was strangely addicting, completely entertaining, but had no substance whatsoever. And I think my brain is probably a little dumber for having read it. Maybe it was because I had just read Brown's Deception Point, and the last thing I needed to do was chase it with more mind numbing ridiculousness. Maybe it was because this is Brown's freshman go...his first novel. And I should give it one star. I know I should. But because it was entertaining, I had to give the guy some credit.

However, when you set up a main character to be a genius...and I quote, "His eyes fell the length of her sleder torso - to her white blouse with the bra barely visible beneath, to her knee-length khaki skirt, and finally to her legs...Susan Fletcher's legs. Hard to imagine they support a 170 IQ, he mused." I'm not going to parse the whole thing. I'm willing to accept that stock thrillers such as this are rife with hackneyed descriptions of people, in particular women, such as Brown's "sexy" depiction of Fletcher. I don't read these books because I'm expecting F. Scott Fitzgerald. I read them because they are entertaining, period. BUT...notice that Fletcher has an IQ of 170. 1.7.0!!! Is that even possible? I don't know.

The point is that she's this genius decoder, right? Super smart and totally able to decode some of the most complicated cipher. And yet there are very extremely completely obvious "ciphers" right in front of her face that she does not get. Really? I'm no genius. But I got them right away. So I thought that really wasn't so great. And you are this completely smart and perfectly beautiful woman, and you know when all these various men are totally into you. But the crazy one, who is so obviously into you, you don't see? Even when it's in front of your face all the time? It reminded me too much of that one Patricia Cornwell novel with this one Kay Scarpetta character who is supposed to be a genius as well. But she does some really ill advised...STUPID...things. Um, not sure I understand how someone is a genius and then suddenly isn't a genius. So that was annoying.

I also think Brown cleaned up his act when it comes to sex after this novel. This bordered on a Harelquin Romance extravaganza! The feminist in me screams out in protest at such garbage. I'm all for chemistry and attraction. But I revolt at silly depictions of the perfect woman and the perfect man falling in love. They are both just sooooooooo attractive and sooooooooo smart. And they have the most perfect jobs and perfect lives. Ugh! There wasn't anything really graphic. It just felt cliche and empty.

And finally, the climax. It just went on and on and on. Oh dear me, just get to the point already. It was no longer exciting when all the brainiacs in the NSA couldn't solve the freaking mystery which was right in front of their faces! And the whole thing was going to blow up, and of course the perfect couple can save the day in the end. Because they are perfect and that is what they do!!! I just couldn't suspend my disbelief anymore, so there were some serious sighs. Some eye rolling. Some straight out laughs. It was far too melodramatic.

Now to be fair to Brown, I have now read all of his books, and I've obviously enjoyed them, mostly. And I think now that he's written a few thrillers, that his writing has improved. He's no longer focused on sexual liasons between characters. And while his stories are completely unbelievable, they are also entertaining. The guy isn't proclaiming that he's the next Hemingway, after all. He's selling a product. I just think that from now on, I'll take my gluttony in smaller doses.
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Comments (showing 1-7 of 7) (7 new)

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message 1: by Jami (new)

Jami Loved the review, Michelle! Now if only that first paragraph didn't sound so very familiar . . .

Michelle Haha...but it is what reading this felt like. I just over did it with Dan Brown. I know now that I have to take him in smaller doses!

message 3: by Jami (new)

Jami I've done that with Jodi Picoult, too. Her stuff is total escapism, in my opinion, but I like to read it once in a while, as long as I don't read more than one at a time. Too much of the same thing, you know?

Michelle Oh I know. I like these writers enough...and I would include Jodi Picoult on that list. But once in a while...NOT all at once!

message 5: by Laura (new)

Laura Yes, I'm drowning myself in YA fiction lately. I do it in the name of knowing what my kids are reading, but let's face it. It's fun. :-) I totally know what you mean.

Annie This is probably the best review of a Dan Brown book I've ever read. I feel like I'm sitting down to meal of White Castle. I know I'm going to regret it but it's really good right now.

Michelle Annie wrote: "This is probably the best review of a Dan Brown book I've ever read. I feel like I'm sitting down to meal of White Castle. I know I'm going to regret it but it's really good right now."

Thanks Annie! And I totally agree. The crap tastes good when I'm craving it, but I go overboard, and regret it! Every time!

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