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A dissapointment compared with the trilogy
on May 24, 2013
I am amazed at the reviews that led me to believe that this book was similar to the first three. The Jericho Sanction was one of the best novels I have ever read, even when read by itself without the other two.
This novel, however, was a grave disappointment, perhaps because I am so impressed with the trilogy. This book does not even belong in the "set," in my opinion.
Based on the raving reviews, I could not wait for this book to arrive. I quickly discovered, though, that this novel simply is not very interesting! The entire book is written as expository fiction--telling the tale rather than developing the setting and characters to let them tell the story. Case in point: at one place, Mr. North dedicated at least two pages to a technical message (all caps, etc.), and then for two more pages explains the exact contents of the message through dialogue, effectively repeating and what the message said. I suppose his readers are assumed to be too daft to figure it out themselves?
The dialogue gaffes continue. There is one crazy exchange between James Newman and his father's friend, a Senator. Here, James oddly details, most graphically, how he got his wife pregnant. I can't imagine such a thing like this actually happening!
Then the plot issues abound. There is the kidnapped retired-admiral-turned-inventor that can endure extremes of hurricane-tossed lifeboats and sweltering jungle heat, but cannot seem to overcome a single captor on a derelict tanker when waves are about to wash the villain overboard anyway? In many places the plot just simply does not make sense!
There is endless dialogue in this book when compared with the more action-packed trilogy. Dialogue covers plans in detail that either end up not happening, or happening according to plan (so you read it again!). Why not have sufficient plot and plot development to let the plot tell the story--I don't need to read everything twice!
I would have rather seen the repetitious pages dedicated to North's view of the future. Alas, here he seems to lack vision as well. He sees almost no advance in technology happening over the next twenty years: from touch panel thin televisions to the V-22, P-8, RFIDs, PIDs, and magnetic resonance power transfer--all these are already here! Concerning the governmental state of the US in twenty years, I would suspect that things will either be far better or far worse than North describes--he picks an unsatisfying middle-of-the-road approach, in my opinion. Perhaps this was the biggest risk in North's futuristic novel--it is a departure from the more timely (but now outdated) trilogy. I would place this novel at around 2020 at the latest.
Another thing worth mentioning is the departure from the trilogy in profanity. This novel contains token profanity and crudity that was eliminated from the other books. Many will laugh at this critique, but I have always considered it a mark of an exceptional author who can write without profanity, graphic sex, and violence, and yet tell a convincing story. In this case, the token profanity is another mark of the decline in excellent authorship.
Sadly, this book became such a chore to read that I no longer cared how the story would end. I became convinced that Mr. North either wrote this book himself, or used a different ghost writer; it's just that different from the trilogy! I would hope that Mr. North will return to writing excellent novels in the future.