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Book Details

Title:   Digital Fortress
Author:   Dan Brown
Times Read:   1
Last Read:   01.16.09

Other Books Read By This Author (3)
- Deception Point
- Inferno
- The Lost Symbol

Notes History
Date Read Note
01.16.09 So... I remember back when I read the three other Dan Brown books, talking to Trapper and hearing that he - who was more of a fan of Deception Point than I was - didn't like this one too much. I took that as a sign and didn't pursue it... until it popped up at a used book store for fifty cents. "why not? It'll at least be a quick read." It was, sort of. It was also as bad as I suspected. I've never really thought of Brown as a good "writer" per se. Yes, his puzzles and descriptions of things are interesting, but his characters are paper thin and his prose is pretty tawdry. Sort of the equivalent of a Saturday morning serial... needlessly melodramatic and working very hard to keep you turning the pages as fast as you can. Now, this isn't necessarily a bad thing. In the case of Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons and even Deception Point to a certain degree, I was entertained pretty thoroughly by taking it at face value. The reason behind all three books working for me was the authenticity (or at least the perceived authenticity) of the research and the science. I'm not talking about believing the fantasy of the plot but... those statues are there and you can go look at them and let your mind wonder "what if..." and have a good time. Deception Point came off as a Michael Crichton-esque scientific romp as well with lots of science-y facts to keep my mind busy depsite the tepid mystery. Here though, it's about computers and encryption. While I don't know a lot about encryption, I do know more about it than the Vatican or Mary Magdalene or whatever. This was like a whole book's equivalent of that movie The Net. Pretty frustrating. I could almost forgive it since it was released in 1998 but with Cryptonomicon coming out just a year later I can't give it any slack. I don't really believe that nobody knew who the NSA was in 1998, or what cryptography or anti-viruses or firewalls or any of that. Maybe Brown didn't know what these things were back then but I did after reading one issue of Wired. What's more is that Brown insists on describing computer interactions like someone who never uses one. Clicking a mouse is clicking a mouse, not interfacing the screen. Password-protected screensavers are not fancy. And there is no such thing as a real-time VR of one's network security, at least not to my knowledge. So with so many technical things blowing my immersion out of the water, coupled with the same exact plot twist from Angels & Demons AND Da Vinci Code, I was way ahead of this book from page 8, so all i was left with was lurid chapter stops and unbelievable characters (in the i-can't-believe-they-are-real sense of the word, not the oh-man-thats-so-cool way). Pretty disappointing.



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