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Decent Premise, Bad Writing

  • Mar 7, 2009
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My first encounter with Dan Brown came with the infamous "Da Vinci Code" which is apparently one of the biggest selling books in history. I read it and I loved it; I didn't see the criticisms that I had heard about Dan's writing and in fact defended it at every opportunity. I was blinded. Blinded by the hype and the sheer ferocity of the media spotlight, I adored this book before even reading it. Now, two years later and I decided to give one of Dan Browns other books a go thinking it would be equally as brilliant. The difference between then and now being, I have now regained my sight and see the criticisms for what they are; the truth.

I don't usually like being patronised. In reality if anyone in person were to deliberately or unintentionally patronise me I would disapprove and tell them so. Unfortunately I can't tell Dan Brown personally, but I can touch upon it in my review. When we read a book we expect the writer to be subtle in their approach and allow the reader to pick up on the important bits as they go along.

Most books I have read do this perfectly; they gradually release information about a characters history, appearance and personality. That in my world is good writing and treats the reader equally to themselves in regards to intelligence and character recognition. Dan Brown doesn't do this, he doesn't see his readers as able to pick up subtleties, therefore decides to dedicate almost entire chapters to each characters description. The worst thing about it is in regards to personality, this does not stay consistent to each character which becomes quite frustrating.

He also thinks that the overuse of similes and random use of what some would consider "long" or "complicated" words are a way of heightening his novel to a higher level of academic fiction. The introductions of these words are used in my view quite magniloquently. He presents these words in a way of "look at me and my vocabulary" which I see as just absurd.

The funniest thing about this book is the front and back cover. Why? Well on the copy I have it has on the front a praising comment from fellow author Nelson Demille which states "Pure genius... Dan Brown has to be one of the best, smartest and most accomplished writers in the country." This is the only quote we see endorsing this book and we're not even sure it's in reference to this particular novel. On the back, however, are very funnily comments praising "Da Vinci Code." Forgive me if I'm confused here but isn't this book called "Digital Fortress?" No positive media reviews for this book it seems, and the trend is continued.

The story itself is OK, nothing overly brilliant and I must say it did keep me entertained to a degree. I just wouldn't recommend it, and that's a shame as I was hoping for more.

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March 07, 2009
I read Da Vinci Code and then decided to try Digital Fortress but couldn't finish it. My mom and sister loved it, but I think the only reason I liked Da Vinci Code in the first place is because much of it takes place in France and I've visited a lot of the sites he mentions. Beyond that, I can't say I enjoyed it too much. But after reading your review, I no longer feel guilty about not having finished Digital Fortress!
March 07, 2009
I read "The Da Vinci Code" and "Angels & Demons," but could not get through "Digital Fortress" at all. Nothing original out there. I'd recommend "Angels & Demons" as the best one if you haven't read it, especially if you liked "The Da Vinci Code."
More Digital Fortress reviews
Quick Tip by . August 23, 2010
This is my favorite book by Dan Brown, even though it is a bit simpler than some of the others. It is definitely a good "starter" book into the writings of Dan Brown. I would absolutely recommend this novel.
Quick Tip by . August 08, 2010
A thriller. Moves with movie-like pacing. Not a lot of deeper things from the characters, but an interesting chunk of the world of security and cryptography.
Quick Tip by . June 29, 2010
Dan Brown books are satirical, easy to read, and worth the time as far as popular books go. This is a suspense thriller and government control of the internet, in terms of privacy of the end user. He questions the extent to which security concerns face off with the privacy of computer users and goverment ability to monitor anyone person usage of it.
Quick Tip by . July 19, 2010
Just like "deception point", this will definitely catch your thoughts.
Quick Tip by . July 15, 2010
Excellent book for begginers. When you don`t like to read and want to read some action that have nothing to add to your life, read this book.
Quick Tip by . July 03, 2010
a little slower than his other ones, but still a pretty good read.
Quick Tip by . June 23, 2010
Excellent book, I would really recommend reading this.
Quick Tip by . June 22, 2010
Least favorite Dan Brown novel, but still awesome.
review by . May 06, 2009
This is the third Brown book I have read (Deception Point & Da Vinci Code are the prior books). Brown has an uncanny ability in all his books to bring the reader in at the beginning and put you on a roller coaster ride that you can't get off. This book is no exception. Brown seems to like codes and puzzles, which permeate all his books. In this one, a programmer appears to write a cryptographic algorithm that even the NSA's most powerful computer cannot crack. This most powerful computer, TRANSLTR, …
review by . March 17, 2005
As a computer professional and a citizen concerned with data privacy, I found a great deal of this story interesting. It is fast-paced, sometimes almost too much so, and builds to a dramatic climax. Like all good mysteries, there are several possible perpetrators, and as you read it, your mental finger of guilt occasionally points to all of them.    The main premise is that the National Security Agency (NSA) has a supercomputer that is capable of cracking all encryption codes in a matter …
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Steven Stewart ()
Ranked #95
Currently studying Law at University, my main interests revolve around Politics. I read quite a lot and love learning about History. Not just the history of a specific time, place and person, but I'm … more
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About this book


In most thrillers, "hardware" consists of big guns, airplanes, military vehicles, and weapons that make things explode. Dan Brown has written a thriller for those of us who like our hardware with disc drives and who rate our heroes by big brainpower rather than big firepower. It's an Internet user's spy novel where the good guys and bad guys struggle over secrets somewhat more intellectual than just where the secret formula is hidden--they have to gain understanding of what the secret formula actually is.

In this case, the secret formula is a new means of encryption, capable of changing the balance of international power. Part of the fun is that the book takes the reader along into an understanding of encryption technologies. You'll find yourself better understanding the political battles over such real-life technologies as the Clipper Chip and PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) software even though the book looks at the issues through the eyes of fiction.

Although there's enough globehopping in this book for James Bond, the real battleground is cyberspace, because that's where the "bomb" (or rather, the new encryption algorithm) will explode. Yes, there are a few flaws in the plot if you look too closely, but the cleverness and the sheer fun of it all more than make up for them. There are enough twists and turns to keep you guessing and a lot of high, gee-whiz-level information about encryption, code breaking, and the role they play in ...

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ISBN-10: 0552151696
ISBN-13: 978-0552151696
Author: Dan Brown
Genre: Science Fiction, Techno-Thriller, Mystery & Thrillers
Publisher: St. Martins Press
Date Published: 1998
Format: Paperback
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