Utopia: A Thriller Hardcover – Dec 24 2002
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It takes a lot of chutzpah to give your novel the same title as one of the most famous novels in the history of English-language literature, even if the original novel didn't spawn a literary field or two (utopian and dystopian fiction) or become an everyday term for the perfect place to live on Earth. Yet there's a postmodern appropriateness to applying the title Utopia to a novel set in a theme park that uses cutting-edge technology to create Earth's most desirable fantasy place to visit. Like Westworld and Jurassic Park, Lincoln Child's Utopia is a near-future theme-park thriller, and like Michael Crichton, Child delivers an abundance of white-knuckle thrills, chills, and shocks.
Despite its remote location in the Nevada desert, the Utopia theme park receives 65,000 visitors daily. They never dream their lives may be in any real danger. However, some of the self-programming robots are becoming erratic, so park administrators quietly bring the robots' brilliant creator from the East Coast to fix the problem before it gets any worse. Dr. Andrew Warne brings his daughter, for he doesn't believe there is anything wrong with his creations. But on the day of their arrival, a mysterious band of ruthless criminals infiltrates not only the park, but its computerized systems. The unknown terrorists appear to control everything, from the simplest robot to the most dangerous ride. And if their demands aren't met, thousands of innocent park-goers will be killed. --Cynthia Ward
From Publishers Weekly
A fantastic near-future amusement park is the setting for this techno-thriller by Child (coauthor with Douglas Preston of the Preston/Child bestsellers) in his first solo outing. Utopia, a Nevada amusement park extraordinaire, features several elaborate holographic theme worlds (like Camelot and Gaslight, which meticulously recreates Victorian England), all run by an ultrasophisticated computer system and serviced by robots. When a series of fluke accidents culminates in the near death of a boy on a Gaslight roller coaster, the Utopia brain trust calls in the original computer engineer, Dr. Andrew Warne. Warne arrives with his bristly 14-year-old daughter, Georgia, and sets to work solving the Gaslight problem, though he can't believe that the system is willfully malfunctioning, as the evidence seems to indicate. To complicate matters, Utopia's manager, Sarah Boatwright, is Warne's ex-girlfriend, and an obvious mutual attraction exists between Warne and Utopia systems controller Teresa Bonifacio. Just as Warne gets to work, violent attacks erupt all over the park, masterminded by an impassive psychopath known as John Doe and carried out by his cadre of henchmen, including a computer genius and a crack marksman. For three hours, Doe holds the park hostage, and Warne, Boatwright and Bonifacio race against the clock to foil his plans. Child creates a convincingly self-contained world, populated by amusing creations like a cyber-dog called Wingnut and clever descriptions of futuristic amusement park rides. Sluggish prose and an overload of technical detail slow the pace, but Child proves he is capable of fireworks (literally) at the rousing conclusion.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top Customer Reviews
The story takes place during one day. The park is running smoothly, when terrorists quietly let themselves be known to the big-wigs, making demands or causing terror. Dr. Andrew "Drew" Warne, a robotics expert from Carnegie-Mellen University, visiting the park as an external-specialist, finds himself doing more than what was expected, but instead leading the way to saving the park and it's visitors.
Utopia is a beautifully written book, sometimes the descriptions and thoughts written within the story will remind you of a good-piece of fast moving literature. I very much enjoyed reading this, and found it exceptionally hard to put down and I actually cared about the characters. Even some of the terrorists were intellectual and fun to read about.
There were just a few problems with the book, however. The character of Georgia, Warne's daughter, seems, for 14 years old, to act both too young and too old. Also I truly hated Sarah Boatwright, the Chief of Operations of the park, and past girlfriend of Warne. She was just an egotistical, annoying and irresponsible person, and I have no idea how someone like Warne would have ever loved her.
The only major thing that I didn't like about the story is it didn't seem to me that the Metanet really had much of a purpose at all, except to bring Warne into the story. And the bad guys seemed so concerned with Warne, when they had absolutely no reason to be. Even the things that he discoveered about them could have easily been discovered by Terri or anyone else, and even though Warne dd figure things out, the bad guys had no way of knowing that he did, and therefore shouldn't have been any more concerned with him than anyone else. Actually, Poole seemed to make a bigger difference as far as being a random element interfering with thir plans.
Finally, the ending of this story just seemed to grow more ridiculous by the page. I realize that this is the case with a lot of thrillers to keep you on the edge of your seat, but some of the things in this story were just too much. There were also too many things where a convenient solution was just written in with no logical explanation as to why these solutions would be available.
I enjoyed the book, and it was interesting the entire time, but be prepared for some silly situations.
My only major problem was how almost everything was based on coincidence. Certain people and things in the park, coupled with their function and circumstances are used to keep the story going in an almost unbelievable fashion. Guns jam at inopportune moments, witnesses to events happen to be ex-military, in a park with no weapons an alternative is presented that on any other day would not be available, etc. The book is good fun and the ending makes up for most of its' problems but the story is so reliant on contrivance it gets damn silly by the end.
Still it's a good summer read but in this rare case I think a movie version would be more fulfilling.
The plot of Utopia is much too simple. This is Die Hard meets Jurassic Park, without the suspense and without the thrilling characters. The plot is so simple that you'll guess every twist and turn dozens of pages before they actually occur. There are very few surprises in Utopia, which completely destroys the type of suspense the book is striving to achieve.
Even the characters are paper-thin and stereotypical. You have the average-joe computer wiz who will become the Rambo-like savior, and his young daughter, who will become the target. You have the parc's director, a woman who's so ambitious that she can't see a problem when it slaps her right in the face. And finally, you have the inside man, the traitor who initiated the whole thing (and you'll easily guess who that is within the first fifty pages or so!).
Imagine yourself on a roller coaster ride. You're all hyped up because it's about to start. When it does, you get all excited. Then the ride stops. Then starts again. Then stops. Then starts again. That's how I felt while reading Utopia.
As a matter of fact, the books reads more like the outline for the next big special effects summer film than an actual novel. And that's too bad, because the core idea behind the book is somewhat interesting. Child goes through great lengths to create this amazing theme parc and he easily puts us right in there with the characters (although he can babble a bit too much about computers and modern technology). But that's pretty much the only thing to find thrilling about this book.
Most recent customer reviews
Hard to rate this book, honestly, especially without half stars.
I disagree greatly with several of the reviews here. Read more
The story of this book is good, but the desciptions of Utopia sounded so familiar to me until it dawned on me that it sounds a lot like Disney World. Read morePublished on June 13 2004 by Kristy Lee
I usually tear through a good book in a day--it took me three weeks to get through Utopia. It was a great story idea and I wanted to like it--didn't want to give up on it because... Read morePublished on April 15 2004
I bought this book simply by the description but I thouroughly enjoyed it!
This is an inventive world that the author places you in w/ engaging characters. Read more
If you are old enough, you may remember a movie named Westworld as well as the sequel. In the movie, a theme park had been created allowing park visitors to experience the past... Read morePublished on March 2 2004 by Kevin Tipple
Utopia is one of the most advanced and realistic theme parks in the world. It has four separate divisions each offering their own thrills as patrons are immersed into the future,... Read morePublished on March 2 2004 by Larry
I have only read one other book by Lincoln Child, and that was his collaboration with Douglas Preston, "Relic," which I thought was okay. Read morePublished on Feb. 11 2004 by Eric S. Bauman
Because I can't stand to travel without reading material, I had to stop at the Orlando airport before the flight back to Portland and find a paperback "just in case" I... Read morePublished on Feb. 6 2004 by Thomas Duff
Just finished reading Utopia written by Lincoln Child, 1/2 of the co-writing team (the other one being Douglas Preston) that brought us the excellent horror novel Relic (one of my... Read morePublished on Jan. 30 2004 by Terrence H. Seamon