Saturday, August 9

"Digital Fortress" - Dan Brown

"When the National Security Agency's "invincible" code-breaking machine encounters a mysterious code it cannot break, the agency calls in its head cryptographer, Susan Fletcher, a brilliant, beautiful mathematician. What she uncovers send shock waved through the corridors of power. The NSA is being held hostage - not by guns or bombs, but by a code so complex that if released it would cripple US intelligence.
Caught in an accelerating tempest of secrecy and lies, Fletcher battles to save the agency she believes in. Betrayed on all sides she finds herself fighting not only for her country but for her life, and in the end, for the man she loves..."
I was about halfway through this book when Mum came and knocked at my bedroom door, telling me that she was going downstairs to watch the Beijing Olympics Opening Ceremony, which - as we'd seen on the news - promised to be absolutely amazing (we'd recorded it). Did I want to see it?
I glanced from the book, back to her. "I'll be down in a few minutes," I said.
The next time I saw Mum, she was again standing in my bedroom door, telling me how spectacular it was, and that I would have loved it. Meanwhile, I'd made it to within the last couple of pages of the book.
This is how utterly engrossed I was in "Digital Fortress". The pace was absolutely unrelentless, the plot irresistably compelling, and it held my attention completely for an entire afternoon and evening, with the exception of mealtimes and helping to hold our cat while she was given a pill.
I love thrillers, pure and simple. But my favourite kind are the 'chase thrillers' - yeah, there's plenty of them, and often they all feature the same basic elements, but they are my absolute favourite kind of story, whether in print or on a movie or TV screen. Give me someone being chased and running for their life, and all the action scenes this scenario promises, and I'm hooked. That is exactly what this slightly exhausting book delivered.
In addition, I liked the 'geeky' touches; brilliant computer hackers always make a good plot device. In this case, someone threatening to compromise the computer that holds all the secrets of the United States. Sound familiar? Yeah, I thought so too, but what the heck - if something works, stick with it.
The entire book felt like a rollercoaster ride - for the first few chapters, it was that moment of anticipation as the cars are being slowly tugged to the top of the track, and the ride hasn't started yet. Then you get to the top, and the cars are released from whatever mechanism had been hauling them up to the peak of the ride, and it's just one big screaming adrenalin rush down to the bottom.
And if I say any more, I'll just end up using even worse cliches.
Yay for nerds! An exhilarating ride from start to finish. 5 STARS

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