Most helpful critical review
53 of 70 people found the following review helpful
Very well-written with great code examples/exercises. Not very "real-world" though and needed more depth.
on September 21, 2013
I respect this book for being jam packed with lots of info and no filler. It's very well-written, well-organized, and having authored many documents myself, I can tell you that I couldn't have done a better job! All that aside, I gave it 3 stars (instead of 5) because I had some significant issues with the content. I'd recommend skimming/ignoring everything in this book but the code examples. The code examples/exercises are where you'll find the most value in this book.
If you're interested in my personal issues with the content, read on:
1. The author presents her claims as if she's worldy, having worked for Microsoft, Google, et al. I simply didn't feel this book was very "real-world". I've been consulting for nearly 2 decades, have interviewed dozens of people, and have thus been on both sides of the interview many, many times. In all that time, I never witnessed some of the experiences/conditions that this book pretty much guantees you'll encounter. Some of her advice is simply illogical and makes no sense. I'm not saying she's giving bad info, and the material is presented very well. I'm simply recommending you take what she says with a grain of salt.
2. The code style isn't the best. I hesitate to judge here because, not only have I seen SO much worse, but because well-written code doesn't always fit nicely into books. Sometimes everything gets crammed into tight, hard to read, crappy code statements with poor formatting. However, this is THE book (if there ever was a case to be made) that should have made space. EIther that or the author simply doesn't care about code style. Then again, she may thing her code looks wonderful. It's all perspective. Just wanted to include a warning that, given 2 candidates and one write clean code vs. the code in this book, I'd probably pass on hiring this author.
3. The code exercises are good. My problem is that the material is basic. Any (good) programmer will already understand everything in this book by the time they get their degree (or equivalent experience). Sure, sorting and searching algorithms are fun. We all live for bit shifting and implementing our own stacks. That said, I can't recall every seeing that come up in an interview. Surely, it can come up and probably does. You may be asked lots of basic, technical questions. The issues is that, while some interviews are easier than others and you should definitely know this stuff, it's really not what I think companies care about. I've seen brilliant people fall flat on their face when approached with a real-world problem. I see morons write better code than PhDs on average. Skills are very, very important...but getting the work done (right and on time) is critical.
The material in this book only goes so far. Coding is only a part of what's covered in the interview. I'm not saying the book promised something it didn't deliver. It IS named "Cracking the Coding Interview" and not "Cracking the Interview". However, the author opened up that can of worms when she addressed issues beyond code in this book. I just wish it had more depth to it.