By Daniel Suarez
|Value for money||8/10|
|Did it do what it said on the box?||8/10|
Enjoyable romp, but largely familiar plot
Daniel Suarez is billed as the new Michael Crichton. While a few of his novels have come onto my radar, this is the first I have read. Based on this showing there’s a great deal of promise, but the fairly derivative nature of the plot suggests that at least for now the pure inventiveness of Crichton has yet to be matched.
The basic precept is this: imagine that many of the key inventions we have been patiently awaiting for the last 50 years – controlled fusion, quantum computing, reliable cloning, a generic cure for cancer – have actually been found, but are hidden from the world at large. What warped power and societal structures would that drive? It’s a great precept, although here it’s turned into a recognisable and predictable plot, with a heroic inventor on the run, while dark forces try to suppress inventions on behalf of the status quo. In some ways it’s reminiscent of Chain Reaction, and by pure coincidence I had also just read Catalyst by Boyd Morrison, which while markedly less futuristic tells a similar tale.
My other slight gripe is that this suffers in a few places from “techno-babble”, short sections which appear to just be a dumping-ground for a large number of technical terms, which just about boil down to “magic”. I know the author is trying to establish the BTC’s technological superiority, but that’s adequately done by the more detailed examples in the main flow of the text.
That said, this is a clever piece, challenging preconceptions and frequently, even literally, turning them on their heads. As a techno-thriller it’s well written, keeping the reader’s attention fully engaged from the first page, and I will certainly be reading more of Suarez’s books.