Monthly Archives: August 2011

The Burning Wire by Jeffery Deaver

The Burning Wire by Jeffery Deaver

As Earth Day approaches, someone breaks into the power company and starts manipulating the electric grid in New York City to create “arc flashes,” 5000-degree sparks that leap from electrical outlets and kill anybody nearby. It can happen at anytime, anywhere . . . . Is it eco-terrorists, or a disgruntled employee of the utility, or some psychotic individual? Lincoln Rhyme, Amelia Sachs and the crew from the prior Rhyme books have to race against time to find and stop the killer before more people die. Meanwhile, Rhyme is working with Kathryn Dance and a police official in Mexico to find and trap his nemesis, the Watchmaker, who is in Mexico City to assassinate a businessman. And Rhyme is finally confronting the question of dangerous surgery to improve his condition.

The Burning Wire is the 9th book in this series about the quadriplegic crime scene investigator, Lincoln Rhyme. Despite the difficulties that Rhyme faces, he still has his sharpest tool, his brain, at hand to solve all the crimes presented to him. Jeffery Deaver is one of my favourite authors, I find his attention to details and vivid description of the criminal investigation process fascinating, and his Lincoln Rhyme series is a must read to me.

The murder weapon of choice in this book is electricity and the killer has some creative ways of using it to cause chaos and to kill a lot of people. Deaver clearly has done much research into electricity and keeps dropping notes on how little current it takes to kill someone. At first these notes were interesting tidbits but after a while it got a little too much and I just wished that the story would get on with it already.

On the whole this is a pretty fast moving and an entertaining read. All the expected twists and turns are in this book and you wouldn’t be disappointed if you’re a long time fan of Deaver’s writing. It’s just that everything feels a little bit too familiar, with our characters finding themselves at yet another case with yet another mastermind behind the killings. Not a great deal was done to move character development forward. Rhyme and Sach are still going strong without any changes in their relationship. Fred Dellray and the rookie Ron Pulaski faced some issues in the book but both are resolved without any real lasting effect.

To spice things up a bit Deaver did add in a different case in Mexico which I didn’t feel added to much to the story but rather it served as a distraction to keep you from figuring out who the killer is in this book. Throughout the story I knew that the killer isn’t who it’s meant to be so when the revelation came at the end I felt relieved that I was correct. However at the same time I felt cheated because besides a very minor hint, there was no other way to tell who the killer was beforehand and it seemed like Deaver just made a person as the killer because he said so.

This isn’t the best story of the series but has enough substance to satisfy my appetite for now. I hope there will be more character development in the coming books now that Rhyme has agreed to carry out further treatments for his condition.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

It’s the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place. Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets. And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world.

Somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune and power – to whoever can unlock them. Halliday’s riddles are based in the pop culture he loved – that of the late 20th century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday’s icons.

When Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle, suddenly the whole world is watching, and thousands of competitors join the hunt – among them certain powerful players who are willing to commit very real murder to beat Wade to this prize. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win. To do so, he may have to leave behind his oh-so-perfect virtual existence and face up to life – and love – in the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.

Ready Player One is one hell of a book for geeks, nerds and 80’s aficionados alike. This book was really hard to put down and on many occasions I stayed up way too late just to find out what will happen next in the story. If you love playing any sort of arcade or computer games or even classic roleplay then you will love this book.

Set in the future, the Earth has become a derelict place where people struggle everyday to find warmth and food for themselves. To escape from this living hell, the majority of the world have turned towards the last remaining sanctuary, a virtual world named OASIS. You can think of OASIS as Second Life meets Matrix. The participants have full immersive experience of the world, courtesy of a set of special gears which allows them to sense and feel everything around them and they can do whatever they want within the laws of the virtual world.

When the creator of OASIS, James Halliday died, he left a final challenge to all the players and whoever finds all the keys and completes all the tasks will inherit his entire fortune. In order to solve the riddles, the players have to study Halliday’s life and understand what he loved the most, which was everything that happened the 80s. So we follow Wade Watts, one of the egg hunters or “gunter” as he discover clues on Halliday’s riddles and complete challenges after challenges.

Maybe because this book was written for people like me, I had no trouble in getting most of the references in the book, even though I was very young in the 80s. Really, who hasn’t watched the classics that are WarGames, Blade Runner or Monty Python? I also found a strong resonance in the storyline where Wade attempts virtual dating. I made the same follies at his age because I was never good at speaking to girls. If I were in his shoes, I would do exactly the same thing.

Cline does an excellent job bringing everything great about the 80s together in a fun and thrilling ride. There are plenty of times where I would pause and search for additional information on songs or images mentioned in the book. He also has interesting commentaries on society of the future where the population cares more about leaders in a virtual world than in the real world as political leaders are incapable to solve the issues at hand and also how powerful large conglomerates can become and can easily take away people’s liberties at a moment’s notice.

I can go on and on about what makes this book great but there are just too many reasons for me to love this book. Giant robots, Ultraman, spacecrafts, basically every genre you can think of makes an appearance. As you can tell I had a great time reading it and I hope that you will too!