Thursday, April 9, 2009


Title: Daemon
Author: Daniel Suarez
Genre: Techno thriller
Published: 2009

Recommendation: Good action, plenty of technology, but I wouldn't spend money on it.
Rating: 6/10

Summary: When Matthew Sobol dies, a daemon is unleashed upon the world. It's a distributed program Matthew Sobol wrote that now takes charge of the world and makes the protagonists play a role in its game.

Reactions: I have mixed feelings about this book. On one hand, the premise of the story is pretty interesting. Daemon is a distributed program that reads news and reacts to real life events to achieve its goals. It's able to manipulate people, events, and other technology in complex ways. There are many ways to go with that premise. Unfortunately, I feel the author took his ideas to extremes and lost me in the process. There were too many stretches in what Daemon could do, particularly in the second half of the book.

In a previous post, I shared my opinion that Daniel Suarez is looking down on sci-fi when he claimed this book not to be sci-fi. That was premature judgment on my part as the book is indeed a lot more of a detective/thriller novel than sci-fi. But that is what made the technology stretches stand out so much for me. The setting is very realistic, gritty, down to earth. It sets expectations and then breaks them. That just didn't work very well for me.

On the positive, the book is very well plotted. The pace is very good, the ratio of descriptions to action and dialogue was handled well. The novel nicely changed focus between different characters. And yet it took me a really long time to finish this book. While I felt entertained when I was reading, when I put the book down I didn't feel the pull to get back to it.

At least part of the reason I didn't feel the need to return to the book are the characters. I just didn't particularly care for any of them. Matthew Sobol's complete disregard for human life made me dislike him. Pete Sebek, the detective investigating Daemon, was mostly getting my pity. And most of Daemon's operatives were quite off-putting (intentionally, but still). The character that I feel I should have liked the most, Dr. Natalie Philips, a very smart NSA operative, was much too arrogant to be likable. I have to say Roy Merritt is probably my favourite character. He kicked ass. A lot. Sadly he is a fairly minor character.

Now to the technology aspect of the book. Daniel Suarez certainly gets props for knowing technology. At least for the first half of the book, he mentions methods and exploits that are very realistic. No one hacks into FBI in under 60 seconds while getting a blow job in this book. On the other hand, I felt there were too many technology segments present that did not actually need to be described. I knew what Suarez was talking about and I didn't care, so I don't see why people who have no idea what an SQL injection attack is would care that Gragg entered ' or 1=1 -- into the password box. On the other hand, maybe it's more fun when you are learning something new. I just found the excessive detail unnecessary to the story.

Overall, it was a decent read but it wasn't quite my style and I don't think I am likely to pick up the next book in the series.

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