Claudia's Reviews > Freedom™

Freedom™ by Daniel Suarez
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's review
May 29, 2012

liked it

I liked it, but it definitely falls into the category I think of as "poli sci disguised as science fiction." That's not necessarily a slam (I think of Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy the same way, and I really enjoyed that), but it does leave the author vulnerable to the trap of clunky exposition, and here Suarez fell in, face first. He didn't have nearly as much of that problem in the first book, interestingly enough, but this book really does have scenes with somebody saying, "Okay, explain X to me."

Coincidentally, I just attended a reading by a completely different author, John Lanchester, and he addressed this very issue. Explaining why he'd written a nonfiction book about the financial crisis while also writing a novel about it, he said that he thought fiction is pretty much a crap vehicle for explaining things, so it was much better to get it out of his system with nonfiction. He's right, of course; there's a reason people make fun of novels with big, undigested wodges of explanation in them.

In fairness, I think this was perhaps more noticeable to me in Suarez's book because he happened to be explaining things I actually know a little bit about. Then again, I liked that; it was very interesting seeing how he linked so many current political and social issues together, from food policy to energy to games.

However, reading this back to back with Ernest Cline's Ready Player One was probably a mistake on my part, because they are structurally a bit too similar (billionaire computer/video game genius creates quest for people to fulfill upon his death). Kline's book isn't as serious-minded, and I think that's a bit of an advantage for him. It's just a bit jarring to have battle scenes in which characters you care about are dying, the US political system is collapsing, and one of the main characters is talking about how he's an 11th-level Rogue with such-and-such powers. It took me aback, and out of the story a bit.

I still like this Suarez guy, though. I'm looking forward to his next book.

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