on February 20, 2004
Dan Brown is rapidly becoming one of my favorite authors.
His stories are all well written and sometimes researched ( to a point).
The story is a real page turner, and his characterizations are decent but not top notch.
However, in order to enjoy Dan Brown you have to get used to the fact that Brown ignores technical details in favor of dramatic license. It can be really annoying at times. For an author who does such thorough and accurate research into meteor geology, his ignorance of simple things becomes even more grating.
Here are two examples that will not spoil the novel for any who has not read it yet: It would be impossible for a 2 man sub to manhandle an 8 ton meteroite under water or otherwise. A solid mass just does not have enough bouyancy to offset the weight. The descriptions of the pressure effects on a body are total and absolute nonsense and do not really add that much drama to the story - I was too busy laughing.
There are plenty more, but I suppose they do not take away too much for the otherwise passable novel.
I like Dan Brown and I will probably read anything he writes. He is on my "B+" list. but Dan PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE get a technical advisor!!! Call me, I will do it for free. PLEASE.
on February 9, 2004
Ok, I've read The DaVinci Code, Angels and Demons, Digital Fortress and now Deception Point since Christmas. It is hard to put anything Dan Brown writes down. The short chapter schtick works well to keep you reading just one more chapter - sort of like trying to eat that one last pretzel stick.
Now, which one was it that has the child estranged from the parent and the god-like agency head that turns out to be the villain? Which one has the university professor tweed suit type Indiana Jones hero/heroine who makes brilliant deductions from arcane minutiae to save the day in the nanosecond of time? Which one has the hero bedding the heroine on the last page after a whirlwind 24 hour adventure that would leave mere mortals in an ICU bed rather than a connubial one? Which one has the technical errors that are fingernails on the chalkboard to those who really know something about the subject?
Reading these books is like eating spaghetti, fettucine and lasagna - lots of twists and turns but at the end of the day, all you've got a belly full of pasta.
on October 31, 2003
Ok- first off... I really did enjoy this book. However, now that I have read 3 of Brown's novels, I have noticed a certain formula that Dan Brown uses.
1- Use the word "Indredulous" as often as possible.
2- The bad guy MUST be known by a term/phrase instead of a name.
3- The bad guy is double crossing the good guys... and you are NOT supposed to suspect this.
4- The novel must take place in the course of one day.
5- Your hero must wake-up and not have a clue that he will spend his entire day many miles away from home, while being chased by bad guys.
6- All good guys must be experts at something very arcane.
7- The ending must be weak.
If you follow these steps you too can write a Dan Brown novel. ORRRR you can use this formula to figure out the book you are currently reading after about 100 pages.
This is clearly a case of diminishing returns. One book is Awesome, two is fun, but by the third... you are ready to turn on the television.
This is the weakest of the three novels that I have read by Brown (the others being Da Vinci Code, Angels and Demons). The plot had more flaws, and the ending was even weaker than his other books. However, it was the third of the three, so using the FORMULA I pretty much had it figured out. Let me put it this way- this is the most forgettable of the three that I have read.
My suggestion- read the Da Vinci Code (However, remember it is still "fiction" and despite the authors claims- some of his facts are seriously flawed- for instance - "The Gospel of Mary" is hardly widely accepted as legitimate).
on August 21, 2003
Like other readers, I was disappointed after the quality of both the DaVinci Code and Angels & Demons. This book seemed forced into the Dan Brown formula: ridiculously capable people drawn into dangerous, dark situations (shades of Hitchcock) masterminded by a secretive evil genius whose identity is revealed just at the end (the evil genius seems always to be a major character, friendly with and intellectually sympathetic to the cause of the protagonist)and violent hijinx ensue. Good does win out and the book ends when the protagonist gets into the sack with whoever he/she has been thrown together with by trials and tribulations engineered by EG referred to above. All of this sprinkled with liberal doses of real fun, eyepopping mind-bending technology/history. None of this is terrible (in fact, Michael Crichton has made a fortune by hewing to his similar code), but after 3 books it gets a little dreary. The good news is that Dan Brown evidently appreciates that, and so the more recent books are better: more clever, and more reliant on ambiguous evidence rather than easily debunked factual assertions. Reading it is still more entertaining than watching TV.
on July 19, 2003
I picked this book up for a plane trip, and it was an OK page-turner with one cliff-hanger after another but was mostly disappointing, especially after The DaVinci Code, which has its flaws but overall is a superior thriller.
Books like this are fantasies, but the authors need to get some things right. Some details in Brown's book were wrong, and the atmosphere and tone were off. The impression is that Brown confined his research to the internet and maybe some books, so he picked up some details, but also got other details wrong and lacked a real sense of place. One small thing, but it was jarring: Brown has a character in a taxicab in Washington, DC, with the meter running. DC doesn't have a meter system. Fares are set by zones on a map. This makes me wonder whether Brown ever has spent much time in DC. His description of political processes in DC also is wrong in many details and doesn't show the level of understanding he would have gotten from regularly reading political news in any major US newspaper.
The most jarring thing, though, is how gullible he makes some supposedly sophisticated and smart scientists. His whole plot depends on their gullibility. I'm not a scientist, but a supposedly astonishing discovery at the start of the book drives all the action that follows. From the very beginning, there were some obvious questions about the discovery, but these world-class scientists didn't think to ask them. Real scientist are skeptical, probing, and contrarian. But not Brown's characters, and that really was inexplicable.
So I made it to the end of this book, but never really managed to suspend disbelief.
on June 26, 2003
...Delta Force (who plays a big role in the book) was not really used in an accurate way. For one thing they would not keep messing up their missions like they did in the book. I read a book by Eric Haney (that is very good) called Inside Delta Force. Eric Haney is a founding member of Delta Force, and after reading Haney's book I found it very hard to believe that Delta Force would behave the way they did out on the ice flow or when they targeted the ship (later on in the book). Dan Brown kind of makes them look a little stupid leaving his main characters a chance to escape in a James Bond type of way. I would also find it hard to believe that Delta Force would be used to target innocent people (I guess that could be another debate). I think that the book could have come off better if the bad guys were someone else other than Delta Force (maybe like some I.R.S. agents... just kidding)... Other times the characters would really be in trouble, and of course something really convenient would happen to give them a chance to escape, or they just acted in the nick of time.... In any event, the book does move fast, and it has some really interesting parts. I have read the Da Vinci Code which was just ok (some of the factual information in that book was really stretched, and in some cases not true at all), but I still plan to read all of his books. Even though I might have problems with his books here and there they seem to move fast and are good at holding the reader's attention.
on May 8, 2003
Overall, an interesting book. I have several complaints, one occurring fairly early and the second later in the book. There were other inconsistencies but I've forgotten them. You would think a book striving for realism and facts, a book going as far as to state the factual authenticity of the contents at the opening of the book, would not contain these errors. The first was the misspelling of Navy Seals, Seals being an acronym in this case, therefore it should've been SEALs (SEa, Air, Land). The second is also petty and perhaps false, but it bothered me anyway. Brown says the Delta Force operator is, in addition to being one of the most highly trained ground warriors in the history of mankind, a helicopter pilot. Pilots, as far as I know, are too highly trained to be infantrymen and are not even considered for the positions. One would have to assume the reverse is true, as the possibility of a supersoldier suddenly dropping everything to become a pilot of a high-tech chopper, a craft taking years to master, is downright stupid. Or I am. Anyway, these simple mistakes had me questioning where else he was wrong.
on May 1, 2003
Dan Brown gets high marks from some enthusiastic reviewers as a researcher. But, a little objectivity shows that if you stacked Dan Brown's research against the likes of Stephen Coonts, James H. Cobb, Tom Clancy, or even Dale Brown he would be a C minus student.
Open the book to the first page of the Prologue and we find a character quickly tuning his handheld transmitter to 100 KHz. Sorry, but that just doesn't happen. But, if you happened to have some sort of super wide frequency radio, the minimum effective antenna at 100 KHz would be about 2500 feet. Obviously, some researcher had a 3x5 card on LF radio and knew it could penetrate water and ice. But, the antenna length was an inconvenience, so it was ignored.
Okay, that blooper was for convenience, but how about plain old ignorant bloopers? On page 168 a key character explains that the film "Top Gun" was ... "like a advertisement for the U.S. Air Force." If you don't know what's wrong with that thought, then this review really isn't for you. (Hint: Tom Cruise flew an F-14). There wasn't a single researcher, fact checker, or editor in the production chain who had seen the movie? Do these folks really care about serious readers?
There are dozens of other faults of technical research. Personally, I also object to making the Delta Force into cold blooded superhuman killers. Mr. Brown could have invented some "Omega Force" instead of impugning the real troopers.
On the plus side, the idea that NASA is hanging on well past its time is valid. The Earth science is interesting. The characters are okay -although showing so many paranoid rascals in positions of ultimate power raises flags.
Somehow, when I look at Dan Brown's work in "Deception Point", it rings hollow.
on April 21, 2003
After the first few chapters of Deception Point, I imagined a reworking of the Preston/Child idea used in their techno adventure "Ice Limit". As in 'Ice Limit', there is a meteor, a team of scientists, and an odyessy where things go wrong because of misguided yet fiercely intense men and women whose behind-the-scene personal agendas leave the rest of humanity something to be desired. But 'Deception Point' departs from 'Ice Limit' at this point and carries the meteor story into the political backyard of the presidency, an inscrupulous candidate and Washington's aggressive internal mechanism of disclosing information to the public at highly critical and crucial moments to gain the most spin and clout available.
Using short chapters and multiple points of third person point of view narration, Brown weaves an interesting story that albeit formula, still keeps the reader engaged. His characters are merely conduits for the fast action story, so don't expect any masterful renderings in this department. Do, however, enjoy Brown's skill in seeding his purely imaginative story with enough of today's politics and headlines to satisfy and refuel even the most die-hard conspiracy theory disbelievers. Sadly, I see this novel becoming a movie of the week thriller with less than believable characters attempting to flesh out Brown's already thin creations---hopefully this will not happen--this genre like Preston and Child's works should remain within the pages of a fast-paced novel where it works best.
Recommend for all those who want a fast read that will engage during a day at the beach or a long plane flight.
on February 11, 2004
I'm a fan of Dan Brown's, and the bottom line is that he is a very good thriller writer (except for some of the dialog, which can be *really* strained at times). However, while the plotting of some of his other books such as The Davinci Code is just on the right side of the line between believable and fantasy, Deception Point is simply ridiculous. It's one thing for conspiracy writer like Ludlum to posit dark shadowy meta-conspiracies with a very few people doing simple but far-reaching things. Deception Point, though, goes the other direction and has scads of people putatively involved in something that could never in a zillion years have been kept secret for more than three minutes. Frankly, I found the whole premise so unbelievable that I had trouble enjoying Brown's as-usual good pacing and decent characterization. So, my advice on this one is borrow a friend's copy to take to the beach, but don't shell out for the hardcover. Dan, you can do better!