Deception Point

//by Dan Brown//published 2001//

download (3)A while back I read Digital Fortressmy first Dan Brown read.  I really enjoyed it and added some of his other books to the TBR.  While Deception Point was a gripping read (and Brown is now 2/2 for making me stay up until the book is finished because no matter how tired I am, I can’t stop reading), it had some very similar plot lines to Digital Fortress, which means that I wasn’t really all that surprised by the ending.  It was still an engaging read, and I enjoyed seeing how he was getting where he was going, but it lacked the complete WHOA factor that Digital Fortress had for me, leaving this one more of a 3/5.

Also, so much dying.  I really don’t like gruesome deaths, and this book had a couple.  One in particular…  not interested in hearing about someone getting torn apart by a shark, especially from the perspective of the person who is being torn apart.  Ugh.  Brown seems to get on these kicks where he kills off everyone he can find, and I find myself thinking, “Okay, just calm down.”  

So yes.  I’m bad at synopsis-ing, so here it is from the cover flap:

When a new NASA satellite spots evidence of an astonishingly rare object buried deep in the Arctic ice, the floundering space agency proclaims a  much-needed victory… a victory that has profound implications for a U.S. space policy and the impending presidential election.  With the Oval Office in the balance, the President dispatches White House Intelligence analyst Rachel Sexton to the Milne Ice Shelf to verify the authenticity of the find.  Accompanied by a team of experts, including the charismatic academic Michael Tolland, Rachel uncovers the unthinkable:  evidence of scientific trickery – a bold deception that threatens to plunge the world into controversy.

But before Rachel can contact the President, she and Michael are attacked by a deadly team of assassins controlled by a mysterious power broker who will stop at nothing to hide the truth.  Fleeing for their lives in an environment as desolate as it is lethal, their only hope for survival  is to find out who is behind this masterful ploy.  The truth, they will learn, is the most shocking deception of all.

Rachel is a great protagonist, except she’s basically exactly like Susan from Digital Fortress.  Her boss is exactly like Susan’s boss.  And several other people are exactly like other people.  It was like reading a doppelganger novel.

And, of course, the president is the good guy, the liberal Democrat who is the only one who stands between the money-hungry Republican capitalists and the complete destruction of our society as we know it, while his challenger, the conservative Republican, is the worst kind of sneaky, crafty hypocrite who sleeps around, accepts bribes, and does whatever it takes to get ahead, all while spouting conservative platitudes.  It does get a bit old to be told repeatedly that there are no truly pious people in the world – only honest atheists and hypocritical people who pretend to be religious so they can take advantage of people.

For me, the honest, forthright, I’m-here-for-the-people-not-personal-gain president was the most unbelievable character out of all of them.  You don’t get that high in politics without being a bit of a scuzzer, let’s be real.

But Brown must have something going for him, because despite all this, and despite the fact that I was already 98% confident of how this was all going to play out, I couldn’t stop reading.  I blame the short chapters.  I really have a problem with short chapters. I was also a little bit in love with the third member of the we’ve-discovered-the-truth posse (who for some reason isn’t even mentioned on the jacket cover review??  It’s definitely Rachel, Michael, and Corky running for their lives), who was funny, engaging, intelligent, and a great deal of fun.  He gave an otherwise rather  intense book some great dialogue.

Final beef – throughout, Rachel and Michael obviously have a thing, but they’re so busy running for their lives that they don’t really get into it.  Yet suddenly, the very end of the book they’re all like, “Yay, now that we’re done fleeing assassins, we can bang!  Even though we’ve still only known each other like three days!  Woot!”  It didn’t feel weird that they were going to pursue their relationship, but it did feel weird that they were just immediately sleeping together.  It didn’t jive for me.  Ah well.

So, Deception Point:  engaging read, but a little too much like Digital Fortress to really impress me.  Still, I have some other Dan Brown reads on the TBR, so we’ll see how they hold up.

Digital Fortress

Digital-Fortress

by Dan Brown

published 1998

First off, I just want to take a moment to say you all of you beautiful WordPress people – I love you.  All of you are so friendly and encouraging, and even when we disagree we have such good conversations.  You all make me love book blogging.  I post all of these same posts over on my old book blog on tumblr, and yesterday’s Harry Potter post caused another tumblrer to go a bit ballistic on me – they created a counter-post explaining how everything I said was wrong, and they did it all while calling me names and using clever gifs to point out how stupid I am, and how I’ve obviously never actually read the Harry Potter books (because I have so much spare time to make posts about books I haven’t read!).  And, you know, it’s the internet so that was their prerogative, but still.  It just felt like we could have had a really engaging conversation about our two differing opinions, but instead the other poster started out by telling me that I’m a “f*ing idiot” who has never read the books and who is stupid and couldn’t understand the books even if I did read them.  When I created a post (because actually this wasn’t the only person to respond, they were just the most virulent) simply saying that it’s my blog and I can have my opinion, and others are welcome to disagree but shouldn’t expect me to engage with them if they start out by name-calling, they reposted it and said that I was just a whiny whiner who expects people to kiss my ass and only listen to opinions the same as mine.  All of this has made me feel very sad about book blogging today.

So anyway, the point is, I love hearing from all of you, and love hearing what you think, even when you disagree.  And I especially love the way that we can have great conversations without calling each other stupid idiots.  Thanks for listening to me whine.  You guys are great.

Okay!  Digital Fortress!  This book was actually reviewed by my blogging friend Sophie a while back.  Here’s the ironic thing – I wrote it down when she reviewed it, but I can’t remember anything she said about – I can’t even remember whether or not she liked it!  So I’m going to write my review, and then read hers before closing to see if there is anything awesome I missed!

I’ve never read a book by Dan Brown, and it was actually mildly funny to me that I got this book and it says that it’s the author of The Da Vinci Code, which I’ve never gotten around to reading (whoops).  So I came into this book without any real preconceived ideas of what to expect, especially since I couldn’t remember what it was in Sophie’s review that made me want to read it in the first place!

The book, set in its current time (so late 90’s), is actually about a top-secret and little-known branch of the American government…  the NSA.  (It was actually quite intriguing to read a story from before 9/11, before Snowden, before anyone really know what the NSA was all about.)  Susan is a cryptographer, and she works in a secret-secret department with a huge computer that reads every email, deciphering codes as it goes.  Our story begins because someone has created an unbreakable code, which could destroy the NSA’s ability to uncover secret information before it happens.

There was a lot going on in this book.  The story was gripping and fast-paced.  Such a delight to read a third-person narrative!  Susan is a fantastic protagonist.  She’s incredibly intelligent, brilliant at her job, and a complex individual. She’s also deeply in love with her fiancee, David, who spends most of the book overseas trying to find another piece to the unbreakable code.

Cons for me –

  • lot of killing.  Nothing dreadfully gruesome, but, let’s face it, lots of people die.  Almost everyone, really.  I’m not really a big fan of bloodbaths, and some of the people were killed for fairly minor reasons.  It was hard to get emotionally attached to anyone when I was afraid they would be dead in the next chapter.
  • While I loved the third-person narrative, Brown tends to jump perspectives a lot, and without really any warning.  So at one point we could be following one person’s thoughts, and then we switch to another person in the next sentence.  At times, it made the narrative a bit disjointed because of that little jolt that comes when you find yourself thinking, “Wait, who is ‘he’ exactly??”
  • Language/a bit of sex – nothing crazy, and nothing that really detracted from the reading for me, but I’m throwing it out there.  One scene in particular with a prostitute getting it on with her customer…  all just a set-up so we could kill them in the next scene…  it felt weird.  Definitely not a G-rated book.

Pros –

  • Short chapters.  I have a serious love/hate relationship with short chapters, because I can’t resist them.  Some of Brown’s chapters were only a paragraph or two long.  It’s like candy.  I couldn’t stop.
  • Susan.  I just really liked her.  I liked how she was strong, independent, and intelligent, but still very womanly.
  • PLOT TWISTS oh my gosh this was a great book for suddenly flipping everything upside-down.  Loved it.

All in all, this was a great read.  It was fast, exciting, and engaging.  It was the first book in a long time that I stayed up past midnight, elbowing my husband to make him stop snoring, just to finish it.  I literally could not go to sleep until I found out what happened.  An easy 4/5, and I’ll be looking for some more works by Dan Brown soon.

And hey – I just reread Sophie’s review (so much more coherent than mine lol) – and she liked it, too. So that’s two opinions – you definitely should give it a whirl.  ;-)