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VINE VOICEon 9 August 2004
I bought this, Dan Brown's first novel, on the strength of reading The Da Vinci Code. It's not as strong or as indepth as The Da Vinci Code but nevertheless I found it an excellent read.
It centres around code breaking and computing - there is no art history or religion in sight this time. Originally published in 1998 the computing and technology side of the book will no doubt date with time but six years on it is not too dated although I am sure experts will no doubt pick holes in some of it.
The book centres around a couple searching for a key for a newly developed code. The woman, and main character, is in her place of work, a highly secure NSA building dedicated to code breaking. Her partner is in Europe tracking down a second copy of the key which is held inside a ring.
The book is fast paced and I read it within 24 hours. I found it thoroughly ejoyable and although some of the story was a bit predictable there were enough twists to it to make it page turner.
It's not as good as The Da Vinci code but it brought to me a similar excitement when reading it. A great debut 9/10.
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on 9 August 2004
Having read 'The Da Vinci Code' and 'Deception Point', both of which I thoroughly enjoyed, It is difficult to believe this is Dan Brown and not a 'Bay Watch' script writer trying to make a few quid on the side.
Unlike the rest of his books, the plot here is paper thin (close to none existent) and the pace is incredibly slow (up until the last couple of chapters). What really kills it is the obviously poor research into IT, Computers, Viruses and Encryption - I cringed the whole way through the book.
If you like Dan Brown because you've read his other books, do yourself a favour and avoid reading this one as it will only spoil your opinion of the author.
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on 8 April 2005
When Dan Brown wrote the Da Vinci code he had had three previous books as 'practice'. This is his first book and it shows. The plot is reasonable, but nothing like as compelling or page turning as say Angels and Demons. The characters are skeletal versions of characters in subsequent books and I read through it with a nagging feeling that all the jargon and constant reminders of just how brilliant the main characters are was merely covering a lack of substance and real interesting ideas. There are the charactaristic Dan Brown twists but little else.
About twenty pages before the end I began to wonder "is this it or is he saving the best for the final few pages. It was, and he wasn't.
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on 28 June 2004
I saw the book in the airport and thought it would make a good holiday read. I was very disappointed.
So predictable and obviously written by somebody who knows nothing about computers. I admit I am in IT but. People do not crawl under computer consoles with soldering irons (30 years ago may be). Since when did you spend a billion dollars on a computer and if it was working hard, it over heated, took all the power from the building, turned the lights off and stopped the doors working. I would fire the designer and the hundreds of people it would have taken to design it. Has nobody heard of Health and Safety in the USA. It was careless plot devices like this which turned it from an average thriller to pathetic.
I cetainly do not feel the need to read any other of his books.
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on 29 July 2004
Well, had high hopes for this one having read the Da Vince code, but this turned out to be a complete load of rubbish. The technical details are appaling - my 2 year old son would probably do better at writing something about Internet security - and the plot was so thin it was a complete joke. It could have been good because there were some good ideas there that could have worked, but why the publisher allowed trees to die for this is beyond me!
Avoid at all costs!
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on 6 July 2004
This is the 1st book from Dan Brown (Deception Point, Angels and Demons, and the Da Vinci Code) and easily his worst, at least in terms of style. The first page of all his books proclaims how he taught English and a creative writing course - well, if I'd been a student I would have demanded a new lecturer if this was the rubbish that I produced. The style is reminiscent of what a talented 12-year-old produces (albeit a few hundred pages longer).
Style aside, it's a fun book to read, although the constant references to technology now make the book seem terribly dated (it was written in 96). It's also quite clear that Dan Brown has (or at least had) no idea of how the Internet really works. But these are moot points. Like the books that were to come later, this is very engaging, and written in a way that is reminiscent of watching a film - all of his books are screaming out to be made into films.
Despite the style, I can easily recommend this book, and if you don't get put off by the outdated technology, you'll surely love it.
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on 28 November 2004
Most people will be reading this book because they read The Da Vinci code, liked it, and thought they would try the other Dan Brown novels - that's what I did. Of all 4 books he's written I have to admit that this is not as good as the other 3 (my favorite being Deception Point), however that doesn't make it a bad book. I think it suffers because the Da Vinci Code has been so successful that everyone expects this to be on the same level. It's still good though and despite what a number of other reviewers have said, I'm glad I read it.
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Now if you are wondering whether or not you should buy this, you have probably read "the Da Vinci code" and possibly "Angels and Demons" with enjoyment. Well, this one isn't in the same league as either of those. If you've only read one of the above, then read the other before thinking about this one.
Having said all that, I quite enjoyed this. We are still loosely in the realm of codes and code-breaking here. In fact, probably the most significant use of code-breaking today is in the encryption of communications to ensure that these remain confidential in the digital age.
The action in this novel shifts between the NSA headquarters and Seville. It appears that an unbreakable code "Digital Fortress" has been developed, which, if it were to become widely available would remove the ability of the US government to intercept communications. The race is on to make sure that no-one gets their hands on "Digital Fortress"!
Like other Dan Brown novels, the action takes place over a short space of time, and is fast-moving. The plot is a bit unlikely, but then you are probably not looking for gritty realism if you are considering this as a purchase. Having said that though, Dan Brown is able to raise questions in this book about to what extent (if at all) it is acceptable for governments to be able to intrude on private communications, and rationales for doing so.
This was a good summer read. Pacey, entertaining and good fun.
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on 28 March 2005
I have to say with half of the back cover and the first three pages dedicated to acclaim for "The Da Vinci Code", the alarm bells were ringing before I started "Digital Fortress". And praise for THIS novel? It's obviously a little harder to find. Having read the book I now know why. DF is irritating for a number of reasons. Firstly, 'staring you in the face' clues abound yet the myriad of super smart characters are perfectly oblivious to them. Susan Fletcher may be billed as extraordinarily intelligent yet she can't crack a ridiculously simple anagram. Secondly, while I appreciate that with the central theme being a code-breaking computer tecchy references are necessary, it all gets very tedious. Unputdownable it is not. Thirdly, Dan Brown's portrayal of Spain smacks of stereotype. I was offended FOR the Spanish! Or in the words of Mr Brown, "offended in the way only a Spaniard can be offended". Oh, please! What on earth does that mean? Have you ever set foot in Spain? Despite this book's flaws the plot's not bad, and it touches on the interesting theme of personal privacy and how much goverments need to know.
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on 25 March 2006
Having read the Da Vinci Code I decided to see what some of Dan Brown's earlier work was like. Oh dear. At least this is encouragement to new authors that you can write a poor first book and still make a fortune!
Characterisation is very two-dimensional, and Brown makes Spain look a very backward 3rd world type of place, which might have been true in the 1970s but certainly wasn't in the late 1990s - did no-one tell him that Seville was thoroughly spruced-up for Expo 1992? The final denouement was quite literally incredible - unbelieveable - I simply cannot credit that a roomful of the NSA's brightest, from the Director down, couldn't work out what the passphrase was once the clue was revealed -- even a relative ignoramus like myself knew instantly what the passphrase was, yet these characters took another fifteen minutes to figure it out!
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