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Golden brown, Texture like sun
Digital Fortress - Dan Brown
Member Name: ryanando
Digital Fortress - Dan Brown
Advantages: A good read to take your mind off thinking
Disadvantages: A similar read to everything else Brown has written
I currently feel like I am trapped in an old Shreddies advert. You know the ones I'm talking about. The ones where you get half way through your day then and ugly little blue monster thing starts drumming on your stomach screaming "hunger strikes". I am not hungry, however. The little blue monster thing is drumming on my head in a rather repetitive manner telling me how bored I am. I have no internet access, no petrol, no money and I still have 5 days to go till pay day. I have watched all the DVD's I own, played all the games and doodled as much as humanly possible.
What has came of my current inability to do anything? I shall tell you. Since it costs nothing to walk round to the tattooists, I now know exactly what I want for my next tattoo and that it will cost me about £500. I also know that the artist I want to do it is no longer in my city, adding travelling costs to that £500. Basically Ryan = even more depressed than he was just being bored.
In a last ditch attempt to cure my boredom I decided I would go to my shelf and pick up one of the books I had not read. Luckily for me it worked. Unfortunately, I picked it up right at the start of my weekend. It is now the end of my weekend and I can't actually remember doing anything but sitting in my bed reading, which is brilliant and everything...but now I'm finished it and I'm bored again. So I figure I shall review it.
---A bowl full of fun---
For my Christmas a few years ago I was given three books by Dan Brown. From the shameless self promotion plastered over the first and last four or five pages of each of the books, I noticed there were in fact four Dan Brown books out there. Since I also got a book token that Christmas, I decided I might as well finish the collection so I bought Digital Fortress for a £6.99 (paperback). It's probably much cheaper on E-bay now, but I can't confirm that since I am writing with no net to check my facts. Grr.
After reading the Da Vinci Code, Deception Point and Angels and Demons (all in the wrong order, I might add, since the shameless promotion failed to supply me with the order in which they were written) I picked up Digital Fortress. Having enjoyed the previous three books, I assumed I'd get right into this one. Then a funny thing happened. I read the first page and threw the book down in what I can only describe as disgust, never to pick it up again for a good couple of years. Till the other day.
---A wheat-a-bix a day...---
We begin in Spain with the death of Ensei Tankado. We do not know how he died, or who he is. Only that he has made a terrible mistake. He is holding out his hand, trying to give a message to the people he is around but no one understands.
Next we meet Susan Fletcher and David Becker. They are engaged and about to have their weekend get away totally ruined by work. But its ok, they are both incredibly hot and very smart. They deserve to have a couple of problems thrown at them.
Susan Fletcher is a top Code Breaker for the NSA and David Becker is a Teacher. A very good teacher though. Yay for him. The both of them are about to be thrown head first into a race against time. A seemingly unbreakable code has been found and is about to be published worldwide. So what? That was my first response. Brown soon gets across the devastating impact this could have.
What follows is the usual web of lies, high speed chases and murder left right and centre. Trust no one and all that. I don't sound too enthusiastic do I? Read on, I shall explain why.
---Are you a crunchy nut?---
Digital Fortress is another suspense + codes + action = yay type novel from Dan Brown. My original disgust stemmed from the fact that Dan Brown who is constantly hailed as being original (or so the many pages of compliments from various sources tells me) is far from it. By the time I opened up his fourth book, I had picked up on the fact that the stories he had furnished me with were, in fact, all the same. Ok, so he had changed the names and the places, but the very basics of it were all the same. Start off with a mysterious death, bring in some person (or people) who, rather inevitably, are stunningly gorgeous (and decidedly heterosexual) and don't really want to be involved in the plot, throw them around a bit, make them solve a few puzzles, then turn it all on its head near the end making sure the bad guy is the one you've spent the whole story bigging up. Ensure that you almost kill the love interest then forget to mention them for a few pages near the end. Mix in a giant vat of "oh bugger off" near the end when you reunite the living love interest and bake till golden Dan Brown.
Mr Brown also has a bad habit of changing his mind about characters near the end of the book, presumably to facilitate a few more pages of "suspense". Digital fortress in particular goes through the whole story confirming time after time how brilliantly intelligent the characters are and that they are the best code breakers on the planet. Then at the end of the story, one last code was to be broken. I could have told you how to break it. My gran could have googled the answer and she doesn't even know how to work the toaster at the best of times. Then we come to a room full of great minds. Great minds who are absolutely stumped. Great minds who find it amazing that some of the words in the code have...wait for it... more than one meaning!!! We get a few pages of the characters reading over the code, taking the completely wrong meaning from it. Meanwhile you will be sat there wondering how on gods green earth this bunch of amazing intellectuals have managed to skipped right past the most simple meaning and went right for the most absurd. Ask my flatmate, I was shouting. I was shouting AT A BOOK. Frustrating, no?
It becomes more frustrating considering Brown treats you more like you have a brain for the best part of the story then just uses goo goo ga ga noises at you to finish the story. Not wise, but another trademark of Mr Brown.
Brown constantly receives criticism from some rather intellectual people for not being the best writer out there. Stephen Fry (comedian, writer and my future husband) spits on his name constantly and rather amusingly. Nick Hornby (my favourite author and future husband) also has some harsh words to say about Mr Brown if you peruse his polysyllabic spree. As much as it pains me to say it and as much as I just had a rampant bitch about Mr Brown, I would have to spurn both of my husbands points of view. I do actually think that Mr Brown is a rather good writer, just not one with a terribly wide scope.
The stories he writes are engaging, well planned, full of information and descriptions that could rival that of the best authors out there. His downfall is always that he doesn't venture out of his genre but isn't smart enough to have a recurring character. At least if he did, it would come as less of a betrayal when you pick up the next book and find it relies so obviously on the same formula as the previous ones that are not linked in the slightest. The only reason I was able to sail through Da Vinci code and Angels and Demons was due to them being linked by the character. Deception point was brilliant, but I noted the similarities. Digital Fortress was just a step too far in the same old direction.
---Nothing but the good stuff---
I shall try and focus now on the good points of the book. As usual with Mr Brown, the story is far fetched but still very believable. The reason for this is the meticulous attention to detail Mr Brown seems to pay. A lot of fact is incorporated into his stories, woven carefully through the fiction to give it an edge. It also gives a good little glimpse at code breaking methods which may (or may not) draw you in further.
Cover wise, it fits in perfectly with the rest of his stories so they will look perfectly pretty, if not slightly obsessive sitting on your bookshelf.
Overall, it is a still very well written and captivating story. Just not in the usual way. It's a bit of fun. A book to read on holiday. The textual equivalent of watching a run of the mill action flick.
I would have to suggest you DO give Digital Fortress some of your time though. As long as you don't read it with the others, you should be fine. Don't expect to go away feeling enlightened about the world. Just embrace it for what it is. A nice little distraction from reality with a very slightly higher I.Q. than Eastenders.
Summary: Another Dan Brown book. Oh yay.