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Directive 51 (Daybreak Novels) Mass Market Paperback – 22 Feb 2011


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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 497 pages
  • Publisher: Ace Books; Reprint edition (22 Feb. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0441020410
  • ISBN-13: 978-0441020416
  • Product Dimensions: 10.6 x 2.7 x 17.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 732,967 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Dan224 on 5 May 2011
Format: Hardcover
Directive 51 is in essence an example of that old cautionary tale of being careful for what you wish for packaged as a techno thriller / post apocalypse hybrid set primarily in a near future America where a global non alliance (you'll have to read the book to understand my choice of terminology!) of radical environmentalists, terrorist groups, the disaffected young (and not so young), and others, known collectively as "Daybreakers", who decide to take down "the system" and what happens in the aftermath; in short extreme idealists act like petulant children who want their own way and don't fully think through the consequences until it's way to late. I think the average reader will see many of the probable outcomes before some of the Daybreakers; this is not a critiscism of the writing or the plot, in fact I would argue that it is one of the strengths of the first part of the novel that we the readers can see the consequences but like the "good guys" are unable to alter the outcome.
Being a non American I did not understand the significance of the title but Barnes helpfully provides an explanation; Directive 51 in effect gives a single person, should the US administration fall, absolute power; if I had known that before reading the novel it might have suggested (at least to me) a particular narrative - I'm glad to say that I would have been proven wrong, this is not merely a survivalist's SOP for how to rebuild society in their image though as with all tales set within this genre there has to be an element of that.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Sherlocked of Wales on 11 Aug. 2011
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
I really loved this book, full of those gritty details I crave in an ' End of the world' book' . Starts off before Daybreak Day with all the different characters and groups being introduced, all with their various beliefs and reasons, all the techie stuff I love on how things work or will not work. The book hits Daybreak Day and everything gathers speed like a runaway train, a cascade of things going wrong... Love it love it! If you're a fan of S M Stirling's Dies the Fire series you'll love thi...moreI really loved this book, full of those gritty details I crave in an ' End of the world' book' . Starts off before Daybreak Day with all the different characters and groups being introduced, all with their various beliefs and reasons, all the techie stuff I love on how things work or will not work. The book hits Daybreak Day and everything gathers speed like a runaway train, a cascade of things going wrong... Love it love it! If you're a fan of S M Stirling's Dies the Fire series you'll love this book. Luckily I haven't got to wait long for the 1st sequel, bought both at the same time , can highly recommend Directive 51
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 68 reviews
60 of 69 people found the following review helpful
How to make the end of western civilization unexciting 12 April 2010
By E. Botsford - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
WARNING: Mild spoilers ahead

I was really looking forward to reading Directive 51 after it was mentioned in the Atlantic's article re: cyberwarfare. I'm a sucker for end-of-the-world scenarios and I'm usually profoundly disappointed with their execution (2012, I'm looking at you). This book, sad to say, was no different.

The premise is interesting and had real potential for making a gripping novel about the end of the modern era and how people would cope with a disaster that wiped out everything we relied upon for the functioning of our society. Unfortunately, the characters you have access to are emerge relatively unscathed from the disaster and you are therefore not really exposed to the breadth and depth of the horror.

The book focuses almost exclusively on the members of the federal government charged with forecasting future threats, who then become the heads of state when the disaster takes hold. As such, they aren't really affected by the loss of power, of food, of clean water, of all modern conveniences. The book references entire cities burning to the ground, millions dying of starvation during the winter, thousands freezing to death while fleeing cities... but those events are presented when the main characters present "reports from the field" to other members of the government. You get no on-the-ground experiences of what it's like for people actually living through the event. The members of the government are cloistered in protected compounds with supplies of power, food and water. You're totally detached from the "reality" of the situation for 99.999% of the Earth's population and, as such, it's snooze-ville for disaster enthusiasts.

In addition, the plot itself suffers from a lot of weak spots. The connection between the main saboteurs and the Islamic terrorists is weakly explained and eventually just left for dead. The ability of hobby enthusiasts to resurrect dead trades and get museum-piece locomotives working seemed a bit too convenient and easy. And then, just when you think it can't get more implausible, the author throws in EMP bombs assembled by self-assembled robots on the moon and launched back to Earth... out of the blue, without much explanation at all of how they got there in the first place, who was involved with that segment of the conspiracy or really any explanation. It was the last straw for me.

To add insult to injury, the author falls back upon just about every tired end-of-the-world trope in this book. Sure, the main characters are an overweight redhead and a disabled man, instead of the usual pretty people that populate these books, but the author still gives us the same old romance between the two protagonists.

My verdict: Give it a miss, or wait for the inevitably bad movie.
24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
Read it for the ideas 2 July 2010
By Ivanhoe - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
John Barnes' novels have a tendency to tackle big ideas. It's hard enough to tackle one big idea in a novel (e.g., Vernor Vinge's "zones of thought" in A Fire Upon The Deep, or the nature of reality in Greg Egan's "Permutation City"), but Directive 51 takes on three: how the Internet can amplify emergent behavior to a level never before seen in civilization, even developing self-reinforcing mechanisms (this is a variant of the Meme War idea in some of his earlier books); a new take on the perils of technology (there are some very scary "what ifs" here); and an interesting take on continuity of American government and the fragility (or ultimate stability) of our Constitution. He does a fine job in teeing up these ideas and exploring them, but it seems almost too much for a single book, with the result (as other reviewers have noticed) that the characters lose out. I found that there were only a few whom I actually cared about (hint: they were not the Daybreakers), yet they got insufficient page count to really flesh them out. If this book is the first of several, then it may come off better as an introduction to the subsequent novels than standalone.

Despite the flaws, I found it an enjoyable (albeit scary) read precisely because of the ideas.
22 of 28 people found the following review helpful
A big, sprawling mess of a book 11 April 2010
By Bryan - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
In Directive 51, the author raises some really interesting ideas but they're buried in a bog of uninteresting and redundant back-and-forth about constitutional and line-of-succession questions. There's a lot of what feels like filler here- perhaps that's because this is apparently the first installment in a trilogy. The reader is left feeling at a curious distance from the action; yes, tens of millions of people die, but it mostly happens "off-screen" and the whole catastrophe seems rather clinical. As I said, John Barnes does get at some provocative issues, such as the possibility that our line-of-succession process could leave us with an incompetent, elderly senator as our President. There are hints that the Daybreak event may have been engineered by forces not of this Earth- guess we'll have to wait for the sequel to see if that's the case. Would I buy Book 2 in hardback ? Nope- not unless Barnes avails himself of the services of an excellent editor first.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Too much dialogue 3 Feb. 2011
By august1229 - Published on Amazon.com
Used for exposition. None of the conversations sound natural at all. They are always explaining. Boring scientific-like explanations of what was going on.

Yet I admit I could not put this down and read it in two days. But that's because you can skim it. There is little in the way of substance.

There are moments where it is interesting enough to keep you hooked. But no follow through. Then too much drama. I was ready for the resolution to begin when the EMP thing came up. Just too much. Start to resolve things already.

With Graham as the 50th President, and it is 2024, I got distracted by how many Presidents there were and noticed that the author made sure Obama was not re-elected in 2012 (must have been if Graham was the 49th President, 50th is you can Shuansten, or whatever his name was).

Unmemorable characters. Did not care about any of them or what happened to them or even what happened to the world. So much disaster you'd think that to write this, you'd have to really hate the world and especially the US.

The whole word was attacked and disposed of, except Australia, totally forgotten - until the last few pages when the silly EMP destroyed radio in Perth. But the author forgot about that continent before that, and so modern civilization would still have survived there.

The high points were some interesting points about the Constitution and the secession. Only Democrats handled it, and badly, of course. I would have been more interested in President Norcross, who inexplicably became all perfect and dropped his right wing Christian nation stuff. I thought it would have been more interesting had had been allowed to remain President and then turned out to be that Jesus freak after all - trying to impose a theocracy. Oh well.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Political Thriller/Post-Apocalyptic Vision/Sci-Fi Eco-Terrorism 6 Feb. 2013
By S. Sokoll - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
John Barnes books are difficult to pigeonhole - the bookstores have decided that the closest genre is sci-fi, so that is where you will find the book on the shelf. These are not books for those expecting a nice tidy story, a love interest, witty dialogue or memorable characters. With that said, you may ask why should I read this book? I love this author's choice of topics and the expanse of his reach in presenting new ideas. It doesn't hurt to have a little disaster mentality included in the mix.

About halfway through this book I realized it was actually closer to Allen Drury's Advise and Consent than The Day after Tomorrow. One of the recurring tropes is the nature of our democratic society and what is necessary to preserve it. Also how easy it is in the right circumstances to subvert it. Knowing that there is actually a Presidential directive on succession planning (and probably every company/department/town in America has provided one for their organization in this post 9/11 world) the political crisis emerging out of the chaotic technological crisis becomes the focus of the last half of the book.

This obviously is not a book seeking a safe niche - but it does offer a very good read and some extraordinary ideas couched within its sometimes turgid prose. Give the book a chance - it will grab you about 1/3 of the way through and become a real page-turner.
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