Lydia's Reviews > The Fear Index

The Fear Index by Robert   Harris
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's review
Jul 29, 2012

did not like it

I don't think I could ever give a thriller of this kind more than 3 stars - I'm just too fond of good prose and character development. But this book was just plain bad.

First of all, how did Harris ever expect me to understand all the jargon and stock market talk? I tried to ignore it in the beginning, realised half-way that it wasn't important anyway, then got angry at him for putting it there in the first place.

Secondly, this book had many loose ends - something that is not allowed to happen in a thriller. The Fear Index was supposed to be a story centered around fear. An algorithm starts acting on its own (something I don't understand but that's probably just my lack of computer knowledge) and decides to scare the crap out of its creator by sending him a book, sending someone to kill him, buying the entire art collection of his wife, etc. Exactly WHY this machine/computer/algorithm/whatever does this, remains a mystery until the very end.

Finally the book was just plain unbelievable. I've read Pompeii by the same author, which was great. This ending left me with a Dan Brown kind of feeling: How the heck does the author think for even a second that I'm going to get creeped out by this if it's so bloody unrealistic?

I read this book in one sitting and I'm glad I didn't waste any more time on it.
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message 1: by JS (new)

JS Found Because the book is about hedge funds so he has to include them for the story to work. And I think he explained it fine. Spoilers: The reason the algo persecutes Hoffman is because he would have shut it down once he realized it's become alive and is trading on its own. The program wants Quarry who loves money to be in charge. Hoffman did not love money and was a moral character so he had to go. The book is filled with Darwin quotes and we are meant to believe that the computer program is alive and acting to survive and propagate. It's sci-fi: of course it's unrealistic, but I didn't find it so. We are trading billions in seconds and using computers to do it. Harris is cautioning us on how to use technology when we use it for bad, all too human ends like greed.

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