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The Machine (An Ethan Stone Thriller Book 1) by [Aston, Tom]
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The Machine (An Ethan Stone Thriller Book 1) Kindle Edition

4.6 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Length: 368 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 941 KB
  • Print Length: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Pigeon Park Press (14 Jun. 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B008BUHC1Q
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #223,549 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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4.6 out of 5 stars
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
You can see this is a five star review so, I guess, what I ought to do is justify giving Tom Aston's first novel the same rating I would give to the best works by Tom Clancy, Robert Ludlum or Len Deighton (three authors Tom Aston bears serious comparison to). Well, here goes...

The Machine is a techno-thriller, falling between the two stools of contemporary thriller and science fiction. It is absolutely a book of the now but bears shades of a real future that we may already be living in. References to Afghanistan, the freedom and corruption of the press and the machinations of modern China sit alongside nanotechnology, robots and the eponymous machine. Given the long process from writing to publication, it's scary and impressive to think that Tom Aston must have been writing this in the weeks and months before the scandals involving Julian Assange, Rupert Murdoch and Bo Xilai hit our TV screens. Either this guy is psychic, incredibly lucky or has his finger firmly on the pulse of what's going on and what matters.

Oh, yeah, the machine of the title. I'm not going to tell you what the machine is. That would ruin one of the many twists. What I will say is that the machine is not just a MacGuffin. It's the coolest MacGuffin to appear in contemporary fiction. Tom Aston could have built an entire novel around the premise of the machine but he's got so much going on in this book that we must take what we can and be happy.

The plot is intricate but the characters and the urgency of the pace keep the reader on board at all times. Much of the focus is on Steven Semyonov, the computer billionaire who gives up his fortune to defect to China and work on building his future.
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I am a big fan of the Michael Crichton genre of science based action novels and The Machine certainly hit the spot for me. The pace is breathtaking and the short chapters make the book compulsive reading, I read it in 2 days and my wife who normally prefers "other" genres read it in 3 days. The author must certainly have a both a very vivid imagination and good grasp of modern science to have developed some of the concepts in the book. Also the descriptions of today's China are wonderful and really add depth to the story without distracting from the pace of the story. For £1.99 it is a steal and I thoroughly recommend it.
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By Bob TOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 15 July 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
This book was supplied free to review.
As this is an "Ethan Stone Thriller" it is obviously part of a series however it stands well alone. It is one of the best thrillers I have read this year. It is an action packed book which retains an interesting plot. All of the characters are well described with enough, but not too much, detail to be able to visualise them. I was amused that the central character "Ethan Stone" was someone described as always alert but seemed to have been surprised too easily. Unlike a lot of books almost all of the characters were individual and stood out rather than put in to make up the numbers. I particularly liked "Steven Semyonov" the genius and the enigmatic "Ying Ning" and "Virginia Carlisle" the reporter. Although you have to suspend disbelief as there is everything from miniature killer robots to Buddhist monks the plot holds up throughout all this. I liked the way that the internet was embedded into the story and how public perception can be influenced by the media. Eventually the mystery of the "machine" in the title is revealed.
In summary a great book if you like fast paced but thoughtful thrillers.
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I got this when at the bargain price of £0.00 in the Kindle store. It's the best £0.00 I've ever spent. Now I'm going to have to part with real money to buy the rest of this author's books.
The plot is set in China and you're led on a rollercoaster ride through Hong Kong to the mountains near Tibet. The tantalizing question of what The Machine is keeps the pages turning. The characters are vivid and believable. One thing this author does particularly well is avoiding unnecessary gore. Yes, there is violence, but it is described in such a way that you get the sense and suspense of the situation, but it's not gratuitous; just enough to fit in with the plot.
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If you're a fan of fast-paced action then you might enjoy this book. Unfortunately I found the characters a bit OTT and cliched. Also some elements of the story were a bit implausible (such as the Chinese factory full of wonder robot monkey workers that no one had really noticed!)
But what really lets this book down is bad editing. The first third is fine but it progressively deteriorates. Some of it is forgivable but some is really sloppy - like the sentence with the word 'ut' instead of 'but'. Just running the MS through a spellchecker would have sorted that out.
Personally, I think three stars is generous.
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Read this and initially thought it would hold my attention throughout, but sadly found the story 'flagging' a little as it progressed.
Perhaps would appeal more to others.
Would not necessarily be rushing to buy more of this author
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Really brilliant and unique story line. Just when you think you have a handle on where the book is going it throws in another plot twist. I would recommend anyone read this for the excellent plot, interesting characters and it being really well written. A bargain for under £2!
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