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on January 12, 2010
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )|Verified Purchase
Freedom is Daniel Suarez's follow up to his 2008/2009 surprise best seller, Daemon. Last year I was blown away by Daemon. Suarez managed to write a compelling thriller around some big ideas. I have been a huge fan of Michael Crichton for years but I always felt his characterizations were weak and the big ideas were shoe horned into a thriller plot. Suarez stays true to the big idea and manages to weave a realistic plot with fully fleshed out characters and situations. This isn't some made-for-movie screenplay, this is a fully realized thriller with deep ideas and a compelling story. I was sucked in from the first page and devoured the first book and left gasping at the end for the follow up. Freedom, just released, doesn't disappoint (except maybe I was hoping for a trilogy). Freedom is a different kind of book to Daemon, the plot continuation is smooth, but the atmosphere of Freedom is very different. While Daemon was a techno thriller, Freedom morphs into a hero's quest/mythological story. The technological ideas are still there and actually they are fully realized in Freedom. Suarez manages to flesh out the technological vision he alluded to Daemon. The convergence of life and augmented reality are smoothly juxtaposed to provide a glimpse of a near future. Suarez is a technologist and it shows. His use of current technology to create his vision is accurate and realistic. He explores the implications of social network theory, augmented reality, game design and ad-hoc network topologies to form a backdrop for a dystopian future. Even his underlying message of governments gone amuck are well researched and realistic; if a little paranoid.

Bottom line: Freedom is a solid sequel to Deamon and together they form a compelling thriller. For those that like big ideas and technological innovations you are in for a treat. No longer are big ideas and fully realized stories mutually exclusive. This is Michael Crichton meets Michael Chabon meets Joseph Campbell - ideas meets characters meets mythology. You do have to read Daemon first, but together they are a fun, intellectually stimulating joy ride through the near future.

Note: If you like the big ideas and technology behind the book, definitely check out Suarez's talk at the Long Now Foundation - Daniel Suarez: Daemon: Bot-mediated Reality.
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on July 2, 2010
The sequel (or more correctly "conclusion") to Daemon is entertaining and exciting, but it has two problems that are very common to sequels, particularly in the sci-fi genre. First, in the process of expanding the scope of the story and showing the consequences of the first story, it loses one of the primary things that made the first book so compelling - the feeling of connection and relatability to the characters. Second, the author moves outside of his area of expertise, and it affects both the believability of the story and the easy flow of the writing.

The Dune saga is a perfect example of the first kind of failure, if that's not too strong of a word. In the original novel Dune, you are personally invested in Paul's story because he is experiencing the same feelings in his situation as you would - being overwhelmed, amazed, excited, repulsed, etc. You create an emotional connection to the character because you recognize in his nature the same things that are in your own. However, by the time you get to the fourth book in the series, God Emperor of Dune, the story has moved to such a level of abstraction and - literally - galactic scope that it becomes difficult to personally care about the outcome.

This book doesn't go to that extreme, but I did end up losing a lot of the emotional connection I had to the first part of the story in Daemon. So much time is spent in trying to explain the nature of the worldwide societal changes that the individuals experiencing them tend to get a bit lost in the shuffle. I appreciate that it is extremely difficult to expand a story to a global scale without losing a feeling of personal connection, but it's not impossible, even for a popular fiction writer; I'd say that Steven King was able to manage it in most, if not all, of his Dark Tower series. Plus, an author should be sure of his ability to chew what he has bitten off, so to speak.

The issue of an author moving too far from his area of expertise is extremely common across all genres. When an author is deeply familiar and passionate about his subject matter, there is a natural feeling to the writing that is very compelling. Daniel Suarez is obviously an expert in the field of computer technology, particularly on the inner workings of corporate level distributed networks and the vulnerabilities of technological homogeneity, and his passion for the subjects comes across clearly and compellingly in the first book, Daemon. He is far less of an expert on psychology and social dynamics, and unfortunately that comes across in the feel of this book. He obviously educated himself on the subjects, and is writing from an informed position, but those aspects of the story feel simplistic. They lack the nuance and subtlety that come from true expertise, and they are the primary focus of this book. While it is laudable to try and push your artistic boundaries, there is something to be said for sticking to your strengths.

I don't want it to sound as if I didn't like this book, because I did. I just don't feel like it lives up to the standard that Mr. Suarez set for himself in the first novel. That said, I can't imagine not reading Freedom after finishing Daemon, and I don't feel disappointed by it as a conclusion to the story, I just feel like it was flawed in very understandable ways.
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on May 13, 2013
After reading both Daemon (book 1) and Freedom (book 2) I'm more convinced than ever that this a) should have been a single book, and b) should have been edited much more critically.

Freedom starts more or less where Daemon ended, and in some ways solves some of the insanely glaring problems of Daemon. In the first book there was no one to root for - the "good guys" were all mind-numbingly stupid, and the "bad guys" were murderous psychopaths. The only character who escaped either of these characterizations was double/triple agent, the completely bland "Jon Ross", and he was only notable for being completely neutral and dull, and therefore the only character you didn't dislike by the end of the book because he didn't really do anything.

The sole female character from Daemon, who was first introduced as an intelligent woman but was quickly debased with stupidity, mooney eyed romance and bad judgment, was re-introduced in the sequel as a love-struck idiot who runs from high-powered, life or death, top-secret government meetings to weep in a bathroom stall in romantic angst over a man she barely knows. Her character stays that way for the remainder of the book.

The rest of the characters were reintroduced as slightly different characters than we left them in Book 1, apparently from a severe course correction by the author who may have realized that there was no point to a Book 2 if the readers didn't care who lived or died. In what could have been an interesting move, he therefore flipped the good guys and bad guys from Book 1 by exaggerating the stupidity and moral blankness of the "good" government agents, now characterizing their stupidity as a form of evil - and by adding an entire undergroup of hardworking "everyman" type folks who find a way to use the formerly-evil Daemon network to live better, more productive lives.

This is where the author borrowed shamelessly from the plot of 'Atlas Shrugged'. One by one, people are being drawn away from the former social hierarchy and going "off the grid", joining the Daemon network called the "Darknet" and, exactly as in Atlas Shrugged, forming new communities based on inventing new energy sources and new farming methods and new technologies, and waiting for the former World social and political structure to completely fall apart, at which point they would then take over the world and live more productive lives. The government, as in Atlas Shrugged, is interested only in power and money without wanting to produce anything, and they spend a great deal of pages thwarting and actively fighting against the only people who can accomplish anything.

The now-stupid female character (Natalie Philips) plays the role of Dagny by being the last holdout who still thinks she can change the government from the inside, and decides to fight her former allies to save the dregs of the government, which pretty much kidnaps her to use her for her supposed "brains" while they destroy everything she believes in. And she willingly goes along with this, and the bad guys forget she exists, which leaves her helpless, useless self open to being saved by a man, as she was in the last book.

The book chugs along by alternating three literary devices:

1. About 80% of the book is a detailed description of torture, dismemberment, decapitations, delimbings, victims begging for mercy as body parts are ripped or sawed off, humiliation, sadism and more and more and more blood splattering off various blades and woodchippers. No detail is spared, and no detail is too gory not to repeat in the next torture/murder scene, and the next, and the next. You will read about the "razorbacks" cutting people open probably 10 different times. To the author, this never gets old. Me, I skimmed after a while, mentally checking off "blood" "intestine" "blades" etc. as cues that the torture scene was still going on and on, and then finally reading the standard "and that was the last thing he ever saw!" as my cue that the most recent death scene was concluding.

2. About 10% of the book was the introduction of characters you will never meet again, whose sole purpose in the book seems to be to exposit what I'm assuming is the author's sociopolitical philosophy. Sometimes it's an old man, sometimes a young guy, sometimes a passing female - they all step out of the story to voice the same ideas using the same words and same slogans, then they are gone from the narrative, never to bee seen again.

3. About 10% of the book is the plot advancing. Sometimes the plot advances in an interesting direction, but then is interrupted by yet another 20 pages of blood bath, and the next plot advancement goes in a completely different direction. Too many times a character is brought in, described in excruciating detail and then never appears in the story again. Sometimes the plot advances in a way that appears to be set up starting in Book 1 and continuing in Book 2, but fizzles out completely.

This book is like a pinwheel in a way. The center is the idea of the Darknet and Sobol, and there are a hundred blind alleys of directions the author tries to take it. None ever take hold. None really work.

Jon Ross's: asian connections, secret identity, willingness to join the darknet, escape from Russia, previous identity thefts, etc... all go nowhere. Each time he's given a story line, it fizzles. He's a completely bland character at all times, and at first I thought that was deliberate - he's a double agent, a triple agent, a man with a secret past and therefore "Jon Ross" is bland because he doesn't exist. Then we find out his secret past in about 2 sentences and it's boring and bland and adds nothing to the plot. The real human under the bland Jon Ross cover is equally bland.

The Burning Man, Roy Merritt: I really liked where the author was going with this one - a "good guy" fighting against the Daemon network who is so tough and honest that he gains the respect of the (previous) "bad guys" and becomes a legend, a folk hero, a model for the kind of character they would like to have. This was really neat stuff. This was something I was really interested in seeing expanded upon, but by the end they turned the "Roy Merritt" avatar into nothing more than a Darknet RoboCop. What a fizzle.

And speaking of fizzle is the end. It's as limp an ending as they come. I'm assuming there's supposed to be a third book, since we had to read a full chapter of the ultimate bad guy Gragg (aka Loki) making a complicated deal with the Devil, a Hitleresque gaming character who can by some unspecified means be brought into a different level of life like an evil genie in a bottle, and like a good genie will fulfill 20 wishes before taking off on his own, his debt repaid. We read page after page after page of Loki (not really) struggling with his choice to bring the evil German guy into D-space, and he reappeared only twice after that and who knows what ever happened to their deal or why we had to read so much about someone who had no other point in the story.

I actually thought it was kind of humorous how after ten zillion pages of spilling blood and guts all over the reader, the good-guy-turned-bad-guy "the Major" got the fizzliest ending possible. It was so limp. But it did leave open an avenue for Book 3, which was probably the point.

All told this is a tangle of a book that could use a good combing out. The storyline is so snarled in pointless dead ends and blood baths, it's almost like looking at a plot through a murky lens. Books 1 and 2 could have easily been combined (and edited heavily - where was the editor, anyway?) into one pretty interesting book. As it is, it's more of a rushed, self-published feeling mess of a sequel.
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on October 17, 2014
This is the sequel to Suarez' book "Daemon." While the first book began with very plausible science "faction" (to borrow from T. Leary), as the story evolved into "Freedom," the tech advanced to become very advanced. That's fine of course, and I thought that the evolution of the tech was in itself interesting.

Also interesting is the overall theme of the two books, namely, the erosion of democracy in the face of wealth and influence. It's a theme that seems to be attracting many authors these days. Right or wrong, it's a sign of our times that the concept has worked its way into the consciousness of so many writers.

"Freedom" was violent in places, and the level of graphic violence can be off-putting. At the same time, the book is essentially a war story, and so the violence is reasonable. I never had the sense the violence was gratuitous, however. One cool detail was how Suarez put a sociopath on both sides of the conflict. Although sociopaths, by their nature, are sort of "flat" characters, I found it interesting that, in at least a couple of instances, one of the sociopaths saved the day for the good guys.

In general, the rest of the characters were sufficiently vivid, though few of them resonated deeply with me. That happens a lot in science fiction -- there's so much plot & action that there's not enough bandwidth left for nuanced, sympathetic characters. That doesn't detract from the story too much in this case, however. I enjoyed both books enough to read them twice.
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on May 14, 2015
Daemon was a 5-star unexpected delight and I was certain that Freedom would not disappoint, no matter how far the story might stray from its original course. But I was wrong. This is a totally different book.

I had several problems with Freedom. First there is the reversal of the heroes and villains in the first book. That would not have been a dealbreaker except I didn't buy into the author's apparent rationale. All the brutal killings from the first book as well as the further terrorist acts in this book are glossed over and presented as a necessary evil in order to save humanity. But it really was never clearly stated what humanity is being saved from. I think Matthew Sobel's soliloquies from beyond the grave are meant to explain it all in Yoda-like fashion, but fail to make a compelling or clear case. Corporations and government are the real bad guys now apparently, the misunderstood daemon is really just an agent for sustainability, and most people don't have a problem with joining a group that murders thousands of people it sees as an obstacle to its goals for society and a green earth. The boobytrap mansion, death machines and wizard-tech are much more believable than the actions of the characters in this book.

The writing itself is entertaining which is why I gave it three stars. Unfortunately the characters I enjoyed in the first book are different people in the book, Freedom, which was the biggest disappointment for me.
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on April 22, 2015
I'm a distributed systems expert, so this was right up my alley. The tech was basically solid, though in reality unworkable. Suspending disbelief is generally pretty easy for me, so I was enjoying the ride. The character development was weak, but I blame the complexity of the story line for that. This book reads more like a movie than a book.

I think if the author returns to the theme after developing his writing skills this could be a truly amazing work. For now, it's fun and a great beach read. Or commuter read. Whatever. I recommend the read to anyone who enjoys Neal Asher, William Gibson, or Neal Stephenson. This is a fairly accessible read from my perspective but I am not sure how it will play for a neophyte in the technology world.

So four stars. Enjoyed the read, will keep an eye on the author. Even took the time to write a review.
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Excellent sequel to "Daemon." In fact, I strongly urge readers to read Daemon first before taking on this book.This book picks up right where its predecessor left off, not skipping a beat. Most of the "near-at-hand scifi" in this book is actually becoming an active part of modern society at this time. Are you interested in the possibility potentials of merging computer science with human physiology and converting it to Artificial/Robotic/Intelligence, then throwing it all out on the internet? This book will provide you with some eerie perspectives on what the future could look like. At the same time, the "creepy" main characters in this book are frighteningly realistic.
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on September 7, 2012
Daemon is still one of the absolutely most thrilling books I've read. Almost impossible to lay down to sleep (or work or do other unimportant stuff). Up until the final chapter, which sort of blew the steam out of the story. Freedom (tm) chugs along, searching for the possibility of human ethics in a technocratical world. It very well may be that a cybernetic dictatorship will be in a sense more democratic and freedom-enabling form of rule than the current capitalist-plutocracy. But I'm not convinced. The book is needed for closure of the saga, but it is weaker than the tour-de-force of its predecessor.
Buy both!
But be prepared that the the first third of the work is the genious part. The rest is OK, but not more than that.
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on May 26, 2011
At another's recommendation, I read and enjoyed Suarez's first novel, Daemon, so I picked up Freedom as well, and could only get through the first third or so.

It seems like Suarez was making his critique of modern society more explicit in this volume, as exhibited by the following paraphrased sequence that seems to occur on almost every other page.

Wise Character: And so the Daemon does this, we do that, and then the other thing happens.
Naive Character: But isn't that [stealing, murder, cheating, or some other crime]!?
Wise Character: Really, Naive Character, is that so different from [insert feature of modern society with which we have grown accustomed]?

By the 10th or so time this sequence played out, I had had enough. I get it -- what the Daemon is doing isn't any worse than what plutocrats, etc. are already doing, only it isn't phony about it.

Maybe the end of the book has a higher action/hectoring ratio, but I decided my life was to short to read through more lectures.
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on March 31, 2010
I thought "Daemon" was pretty good, although my criticisms of "Freedom" are much the same as of "Daemon". I was less tolerant of the problems this time around, though. There is far too much violence and not enough exploration of the core issues.

"Freedom" explores the idea of a virtual society introduced in "Daemon" and adds some body to it. We get to understand how this virtual society could lay on top of and co-exist with the real one, and how your peer-evaluated reputation within the community may determine your influence. This part is interesting.

But, I found the majority of the book tedious.

I tried to manufacture interest in the pyrotechnics at the beginning but after I reached the halfway point, I started skimming a lot. I just don't see the point in page after page of descriptions of violence and explosions. I struggled toward the end and didn't care about the conclusion.

The IT-driven society was very interesting but was not explored at a level of detail that would have made this a much better book. The book seems like it could have been a short story (or "Daemon" and "Freedom" could have been a single novel) without the repetitive, unnecessary physical conflicts, and could still have improved upon the core issues.
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