Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Double Dexter

Double Dexter by Jeff Lindsay
(Dexter series #6)

Dexter, devoid of human feelings, deliverer of deserving death to the detritus of society, and now disguised as a devoted dad, has apparently been on display. While dispatching a man who moonlights as a clown-for-hire in order to prey on young children, Dexter becomes aware that he's being watched. He tries to catch his unwelcomed spectator, but is only able to catch a glimpse of  an old Honda with a dangling taillight as it tears away from the scene.

That, along with some unwanted notoriety in the press has got Dexter decidedly disturbed. He needs to identify and eliminate this person who is now following him around and sending him threatening emails before his fabricated image as a normal member of society comes crashing down.

Double Dexter is the sixth installment in Jeff Lindsay's fantastic series, and I think it's one of the best. Dexter is one of the best characters around and in this one, he doesn't disappoint. It's good to see that he's still active and kicking, even if those who he decides deserve his personal level of justice aren't.

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Reamde by Neal Stephenson

Reamde is the first book by Neal Stephenson that I've read. I had considered reading others of his books before but until now, I hadn't. I think it was due to a sense of intimidation. First of all, his books are long, (Reamde is 1,000+ pages) which means they're a commitment. Also, From the little I knew about his books, I was pretty sure most of it would go right over my head. I had heard that Stephenson is a very cerebral author and his books usually involve a lot of mathematics or cryptography, or that they require an MIT graduate's understanding of computers to understand. I thought, if I couldn't follow either of the TRON movies, then there'd be no way to follow one of his books. Finally, I once posted a question on a book blog asking for a recommendation on which Stephenson book was the best and received a response from a fan who's response made me question the mental stability of his readers.

That being said, I kept coming across reviews of Reamde and every one of them said that the book was great, so I decided to take the plunge. The title of the book is derived from the common subject line "Read Me" that usually accompanies an email that's going to infect your computer with a virus. Reamde, as the virus becomes known as in the book, is a computer virus that infects T'Rain, a multiplayer online role-playing game. It has millions of players all over the world and Reamde encrypts its users' computer files and holds them hostage until the user pays a ransom to unencrypt them. With as many players as there are in T'Rain, very quickly after the virus is released it impacts the files of some dangerous people.

The Russian mob, along with the world's most dangerous terrorist become involved in an action-packed chase that jumps from the Pacific Northwest to China, the Philippeans, British Colombia, and other places along the 49th parallel. The characters are well developed (as they should be, given the size of the book) and the plot is captivating. The book moves at a very fast pace which gives it the feel of a book half its size and not once did I feel like any of it was going over my head. Either my preconceived impression I had of Stephenson was incorrect, or I'm brighter than I gave myself credit for being. Either way, I really enjoyed it a lot and am sure it won't be the last book by Stephenson I read.

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Machine Man

Machine Man by Max Barry

Back in 2009, Max Barry undertook a literary experiment. He attempted to write a book through email. he would write a single page of a story every day and then send that page to his readers. By doing so, the story his readers received was going to be in a pretty raw state. The pace he set for himself didn't allow for much editing or polishing. It wasn't like he had a story already written and was just going to type up one page of it in an email and send it out every day. Instead, every day he had to come up with that day's portion of the story, write it, and then put it out there for as many people as wanted to to read it, praise it, offer up ideas about characters, plot, etc. That story was the genesis of Machine Man.

Charles Neumann is not a people person. He's a scientific engineer at Better Future, a high-tech research and development company that develops and tests cutting-edge technologies and products, and he's more comfortable interacting with things containing a hard drive and power source than he is with things containing a brain and heart.

One day at work, in a moment of inattention, Charlie loses his leg when he gets too close to a hydraulic clamp moments before it shuts. The prosthetics he has to choose from leave a lot to be desired by his standards of efficiency and functionality, so he sets out to design and build a better leg. The leg he develops is far superior to even the best currently available to amputees, but he soon realizes that he will always be limited, not by his artificial leg anymore, but by his biological one. But that's a problem he can fix.

The book is pretty good. It has elements of my favorite genres: science fiction, horror, and thriller in it and Barry uses dark humor to counterbalance the implausibility of Charlie's gradual transformation. Machine Man isn't as good as the other book of his I read Company, but it's still a worthwhile read.

Book Trailer

★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆