The Machine: An Ethan Stone Thriller Paperback – 22 Oct 2012
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
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.
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.
Perhaps would appeal more to others.
Would not necessarily be rushing to buy more of this author
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Interesting, thrilling, quite technical at times, but necessarily so for the story. I am a Stella Rimington fan, The Machine has a similar feel.Published 21 months ago by Amazon Customer
This would not be the first genre of novel that I would choose to read, but I was intrigued by the cover, and I was not disappointed. Read morePublished on 17 July 2013 by DebbieA
Well written, fast paced book. Loved the short chapters as it kept me intrigued and wanting more. In the genre of Tom Clancy, thoroughly enjoyed it!Published on 14 July 2013 by Krager
Tom Aston's The Machine has all the potential of Jo Nesbo's Harry Hole detective series. The pace is swift, the characters intriguing and the suspense is sustained throughout. Read morePublished on 29 Mar. 2013 by Amazon Customer
A really enjoyable book but the poor grammar and missing words make it very distracting to read.
I'd still highly recommend it, though!