Monday, 3 May 2010

Book Review: Deception Point, by Dan Brown (2001)

A huge 300-year-old meteorite is found buried in the Arctic ice, and it carries a shocking scientific discovery. But when the dark stains of a massive deception start to reveal themselves, NASA, the White House, an ambitious Senator, an intelligence operative, and several civilian scientists quickly become embroiled in a deadly game where the high stakes involve no less than the Presidency of the United States and the future of space exploration.

Dan Brown's third novel, after Digital Fortress and Angels & Demons but before The Da Vinci Code, is notable for its staggering pace. Once Deception Point gets going, which does not take long, the story is simply relentless. Most of the action takes place within 24 hours, and the 700 pages of the book just swoosh by -- it is almost impossible to put the book down.

Deception Point mixes science with technology in accessible language, and reaches a couple of thrilling climaxes. It says a lot about Brown's abilities as a storyteller that one of the highlights is a White House Presidential press conference that takes place approximately halfway through the book. Brown stacks enough tension into each main character to transform a press conference into an emotional roller-coaster.

While there is no doubting the excitement that the book offers, it also clear that creating well-rounded characters is not a Dan Brown strength. The intelligence officer Rachel Sexton; the ambitious and corrupt Senator Sedgewick Sexton; the celebrity Oceanographer Mike Tolland; President Zach Herney; his senior advisor Marjorie Tench; and the National Reconnaissance Office Director William Pickering are all memorable and have major roles in the book, but they are all strictly one dimensional. Gabrielle Ashe as the assistant to Senator Sexton emerges as the most interesting character with the most significant decisions to make as the story unfolds.

And Brown will not avoid any accusations of going over the top. The final climax at sea involves massive currents, a large number of sharks, two helicopters, one submarine, one powerboat, three Delta Force assassins, and just for fun, an exploding seabed that creates a massive black-hole in the ocean.

But whatever Deception Point lacks in polish and subtlety, it makes up for in pure thrilling fun.

Published in paperback by Pocket Books / Simon & Schuster.
736 pages.

The Ace Black Blog Book Review No. 41.

The Ace Black Blog Book Review Index is here.

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