The premise is fascinating and the author devotes a great deal of time and energy to imagining how advances in computer technology might influence society. So much that he seems to have neglected fundamentals of a good story like plot, character development, etc. For all its imagination the story felt flat to me. The characters were wooden undeveloped stereotypes, exposition of the technology dragged the storyline down, all this overlaying a conventional, unoriginal plot.
Also, Vinge has made the classic sci-fi mistake of overestimating the pace of technological development. The story seems to take place in the early 2030's, but much of the technology that forms the backbone of the story, particularly in the field of human regeneration, seems to have advanced much further than could be expected in a few decades.
Dan Brown has a deserved reputation for melding fact and fiction in such a way as to convince the reader that the story she or he is reading could actually have happened. Unfortunately, his command of the "facts" underlying this book is so weak as to completely undermine this illusion. From his exposition of the laws of physics to his misinterpretation of the rules and practices of the Roman Catholic Church, his plot devices are so full of holes that anyone with even a passing acquaintance with these matters will squirm with exasperation. Just to give one example, [POSSIBLE SPOILER] the central plot device involves an "antimatter bomb" hidden somewhere in the Vatican along with a video camera which constantly transmits a real-time image of the bomb. This bomb defies all the best efforts of the Swiss Guards to find it, despite the fact that it would have been child's play for anyone with even a moderate knowledge of wireless transmissions to quickly pinpoint its location through triangulation. People familiar with the geography of Rome, another important key to the plot, say that he's way off here, too.
This having been said, like Brown's other books this one is well paced and the force of the narrative tends to pull the reader through. If you can ignore the factual holes, you might find this book exciting. I couldn't.
This book is billed as a coming-of-age novel, which makes the ending seem quite odd. It is really about dogs and the the complexity of the relationship between dogs and their owners (or at least the people who think they own them). I've never had any interest in dog training, but found the descriptions of the techniques dog trainers use to be fascinating. The story is elegantly written and the characters (both human and canine) are rich and fully fleshed out. It also contains a strong element of the supernatural. I agree with other reviewers who were disappointed by the ending, I also found it jarring and feel it to some extent ruined my overall experience of what was until then an engrossing book.
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