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D.E.M.: Deus Ex Machina Kindle Edition
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The first thing that struck me about Deus Ex Machina is its eyecatching cover which, I learned, is also the work of Lee Ness. It's a great image.
This novel doesn't waste any time with scene setting in its early pages, instead leaping straight into the action as we meet our heroine, Rachel, working her cybermagic to entrap a child abductor. I liked Rachel very much. She is witty and skilled at her occupation, doesn't play the docile female, and also has realistic flaws. Her relationship with Cam was always believable, although I did think their banter was overdone. Practically every remark contained an innuendo making it more Carry On than 24. (A lot of films and tv series' get namechecked which is fun to spot.) I feel that this is just as much a book for female readers as male, primarily due to the well-drawn female characters.
I don't have much idea how accurately the actual hacking was portrayed so just happily took everything at face value and went along with the thrilling ride. Deus Ex Machina has great pace throughout, only slowed a little by the political arguments and this was vital to the plot so excusable. Supporting character Dave adds a nice edge, particularly in the second half.
There were quite a few typos etc. which distracted my attention and I think I would have liked to have more time to 'meet' Rachel initially. Light descriptions meant my impressions of locations were always generic, rather than specific to this tale, and the concluding scenes felt rushed. However, I enjoyed the book and would read more books by Ness.
The author wastes no time creating an interesting situation for the main character and pulling the reader into the story. From the beginning I could identify with the main character, although we don't learn much about her until later in the book.
I thought her background and the way the author connected it to the story was really well planned and I liked all of the unexpected twists in this story. Try as you might, you won't be able to figure this one out until the very end.
The descriptions of the procedures the hackers used were interesting and kept me wanting to find out more, and the relationships between the characters grew more intense throughout the story. This is the kind of book where you are never sure who to trust and that makes in an exciting journey.
Overall, I thought this was a great book and would encourage other readers to give it a try.
Although an interesting story it does not seem to be very plausible. It starts very well but after that the tasks given to the main character seem so far from her ability that this is where you have to really suspend belief. There are twists and turns to the plot and you wonder who the good and the bad guys are. In the end I am still not sure and there is plenty left over for more in the series.
I liked the way the characters and locations were described except strangely enough the central character Rachel who I had trouble visualising. The mystery caller seemed obvious to me from early on in the book but some of the other plot twists came as a surprise.
In all a good light read.
The topic is very much to my liking so I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.
My only criticism would be that, what I expected to discover at the end of the book was revealed in the middle. What is it? Well… you should read the book to find out. ;)
Having read and admired Lee's non-fiction books - ones that are especially inspiring to athletes, students, teachers, parents - it is a welcome surprise that he is such a [polished fiction writer. D.E.M.: DEUS EX MACHINA is a thriller and a suspense story that is very much a picture of today - the influence of the internet on the may we manipulate our lives and are manipulated by others whose input is not always constructive.
Style he has, and the courage to terrify us in his opening paragraphs: ` The screen filled with a CCTV recording that she watched without breathing. Over and over the scene played, as it burnt itself on her consciousness. The mother stood just outside the train station toilets, browsing at the shop displays. The child exits the toilets and spots mum a few metres away. As he takes a step in her direction, a man emerges from the toilets and grabs him from behind, covering his mouth and sweeps him away in the opposite direction. The scene cuts to a composite of the mother glancing around then disappearing into the toilets and back out again. At the same time, a grainier CCTV picture shows the boy being bundled into the back of a van. Rachel stopped the loop and sat back in the chair, old experiences and memories overwhelming her. This was too close to home in more ways than one. This was her neighbourhood! How could this happen? The mother's face was frozen on the screen, with all the emotions that it entailed like ghosts in the static of the image. Guilt, terror, anger, hope.'
And so we have abruptly met Rachel and according to the plot, when Rachel is spurred to use her computing skills to find an abducted boy, she has no idea that it will bring her to the attention of an anonymous vigilante. Is the vigilante what he seems and what does he want with Rachel? Rachel is coerced by the mysterious D.E.M. to carry out hacking on seemingly innocuous companies, helped by her friends Deborah, Cam and Cam's ill-tempered boss, Dave. As she gets drawn deeper into their world, she tries to find out more, only to put herself and her friends in grave danger. When she finally realizes that the mysterious D.E.M. isn't a vigilante at all, Rachel is in a race against time to save her friends and prevent an escalation in the war between Israel and Palestine.'
More story than that would be difficult to condense into a novel of just over 300 pages, but Lee's economical writing style manages to pull the reader through this series of dilemmas and intrigues that the book is over in what seems under an hour! Lee Ness has created and enviable position in being able to teach through his non-fiction books and enthrall through his fiction. He has a heady career blossoming. Grady Harp, April 15
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