Author: Daniel Suarez
Publisher: Dutton Adult
Notes: first book in a series, followed by Freedom.
Intriguing and Exciting Beginning; Story Comes Off the Track at the Midway Point - 3 stars - a book review
Daemon has an irresistible premise: upon the death of computer mastermind, Matthew Sobol, a computer virus type is released that wreaks havoc on the technology based world. Spread out (unknowingly) over thousands of computers, Sobol's Daemon is constantly checking online news websites for key words and phrases which, when triggered, unleash a new plague of technological insanity including stealing stocks and major business' money, recruiting members to his cause, and releasing alternative media. With Sobol already dead, it becomes increasingly impossible to stop the mayhem as everything is already in motion and nobody is directly controlling the direction of the Daemon.
The first half of the book is a wonderful techno thriller. During this early stage of the book, Suarez gives sufficient pertinent information about the inner working of the Daemon searching news sites and the logical progression of what terror is unleashed. The reader has full knowledge of each step of the Daemon's "thought process" and, although some suspension of belief is necessary, everything makes sense. Unfortunately, once the Daemon becomes so big and powerful; and a chunk of time elapses without any information provided to the reader, the book becomes much more of suspension of all belief. Whereas the first part of the book the reader feels like he/she is in control and knows everything that is going on, the last half of the book there is so much going on behind the scenes with only minor (and insignificant) views of Sobol's "army" doing things they don't even know why they are doing them. Each person in Sobol's "army" has no clue what he or she is doing, only a brief piece of the puzzle (i.e. take this mechanized part to location X). While this story telling mechanism works to push the story, it loses emphasis with the reader as to the power of the Daemon brainchild Sobol. At the beginning of the book I thought Sobol was a pure mastermind supervillian genius. By the end of the book, I really did not care much for the dead architect as the story shifted dramatically from a techno thriller to a simple action adventure story of nearly impossible proportions.
The characters in Daemon are unique and suffer many trials and tribulations. The best characters were the ones who thought they were in control and making headway towards stopping Sobol's Daemon only later to find out they were only a pawn in the master plan. The emotional responses in these characters were written well, and the characters had my full empathy.
Daemon, for the most part, is a tightly written techno thriller. I may be a bit too critical because I recognize how difficult it can be to accurately and completely write about the exponentially expanding influence of the Daemon; I only wish the entire book was a solid as the beginning. If you are looking for a solid techno thriller from beginning to end you might look elsewhere; however, if you like techno thrillers and action adventure you have come to the right place.
You might also check out Peacemaker, by Dan Ronco, for a similar techno thriller on the doomsday scenario with technology leading to societal downfall.
Plants and Books