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Saturday, June 16, 2007

Digital Fortress

Digital Fortress, by Dan Brown, is about Susan Fletcher who is one of the top cryptographers at the NSA. She is called in to work by her boss when he finds a piece of code in one of NSA's top computers that seems to have an impossible algorithm. Even the most advanced computer at the NSA cannot crack the code, and as the program counts down towards an unknown time, Susan Fletcher becomes more and more harried. When the creator of the program is found dead, and Susan's Fiance David is sent to investigate, the book takes on a whole new level of suspense and action. The story continues on two fronts, one with Susan trying to crack the code and dealing with a murderer in the NSA, and one with David as he tries to avoid being killed by a hit-man.

I think that Digital Fortress had a great appeal to me because it was about computer programs and cryptology, two subjects in which I am very interested in. This gave the book an added appeal that may not be present for some readers. However, the twist at the end of Digital Fortress is even more severe then is normal for Dan Brown books. The villain is not really know until the very end of the book, which can either keep you awake, or put you to sleep. So if you can deal with the constant suspense, and you enjoyed Dan Brown's other books, then Digital Fortress is a great read.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Deception Point

Deception Point, by Dan Brown, is another suspenseful novel that follows Rachel Sexton as she tries to verify the authenticity of a meteorite thought to carry extraterrestrial material by NASA. She is caught up in a plot that evolves groups from all corners of the country and from all parts of the government. You do not know who is friend and who is foe in this novel which is characteristic of Dan Brown thrillers. You are kept on the edge of your seat all the way until the book ends and you finally know who the real. enemy is

Just like all of the other Dan Brown books I really enjoyed Deception Point. Though it is overshadowed by the some of his other novels, I think that Deception Point is as good if not better than Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons. Deception Point brings in a strong female protagonist with a supporting male character. The suspense in the novel is almost too much to bear. In fact, with this book I woke up at 1 in the morning just because I could not sleep. It would not let me go to bed because I had too many unanswered questions going around my head. This is a good book if you liked the other books by Dan Brown, or if you enjoy suspenseful novels in general.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

The End of the Beginning

Its my birthday today, so the review is going to be about one of my favorite books. It will also be a little shorter than normal, no rest for the weary, but I hope you will not begrudge me a little break.

The End of the Beginning, by Avi, is a book about a snail and an ant who go off in search on adventures. As they travel the length of a branch, they meet all sorts of colorful animals. They come help a caterpillar, teach a song to a cricket, and discover a dragon in disguise. Along the way they also learn the importance of friendship.

This is one of my favorite books just because of the witty way in which it is told. It is not a hard book to read by any means, but it contains a kind of logic that makes you really think. The way that the ant and the snail see the world is very different from the way that you or I would see it, and this makes for some very interesting dialogs that really make you question the way the world really is. In the end, the book teaches you how to make even the most ordinary of days into adventures, a technique that can turn a dreary day into one of excitement and wonder. The simple way in which the ant and the snail conquer the challenges that are set before them, and the way that they think their way through with a logic that is funny but also carries wisdom will appeal to children of all ages and most adults as well. If you think that you need a break from the monotony or fast pace of daily life, The End of the Beginning offers a great way to escape from the rigors of your life. It will draw you in and leave you with a sense of wonder of your life that will transform even the simplest of tasks into pleasurable experiences.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Da Vinci Code

The Da Vinci Code, by Dan Brown, is the sequel to Angels and Demons, which I reviewed for you yesterday. It does not really matter which book you read first, I read them out of order, and reading one before the other will not ruin the story for you. Once again Robert Langdon is the protagonist, and once again he is joined by a dashing female. However, in Da Vinci code, Langdon is trying to help solve a murder, one in which he is the prime suspect. Langdon is called in to help solve the murder of a Louvre curator who is much more connected than anyone really knows. He is part of a secret organization that is made up of numerous intellectuals around the country. The church is trying to do away with this organization and Langdon is drawn in to help solve the murder.

As I discussed in my review of Angels and Demons, there were three main points that sold the Da Vinci code to me. First, there was a strong protagonist who was somewhat of a geek, but still managed to get the girl at the end. Second, the book had me on the edge of my seat the whole time I was reading it. It was incredibly suspenseful, and I had to stop myself really late at night or else I was going to pull an all-nighter just to finish. Lastly, the book contained true references to ancient cults and rituals which meant that you were learning about history without even realizing it. If you like suspenseful novels that also have a hint of puzzle solving in them, then The Da Vinci Code is good for you.

One quick note as well, I would recommend reading the book before the movie just so the suspense in the book is not ruined. It is just not the same if you know what is going to happen, and the book builds to the climax much better than the movie.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Angels and Demons

Angels and Demons, by Dan Brown, is about Robert Langdon the professor that was the main character of the novel The Da Vinci Code. Angels and Demons was actually written before The Da Vinci Code, but it did not become very popular until after The Da Vinci Code came out. Robert Langdon is the protagonist who is trying to stop a time bomb in Rome from going off. The book is characteristic of Dan Brown novels, with characters with hidden motives, a suspenseful plot line, and a beautiful female heroine. Robert Langdon goes from place to place following clues in hopes that they will lead him to the bomb which he can disarm and save the Vatican from destruction.

Though the plot was rather less than believable, I enjoyed Angels and Demons for the same basic reasons that I enjoyed the Da Vinci Code. Angels and Demons had a strong but unsure protagonist who gains confidence and ultimately gets the girl. It also featured ancient cults and true historical references which gave the story a life that is hard to find in other suspense novels. But the most important reason is that the twist at the end is incredibly shocking. For those who read the Da Vinci code, or saw the movie, you know how unpredictable the real villain was in the story. I will tell you that in Angels and Demons, the villain is even less predictable. You think you know who it is, but you really do not have a clue. Leaving you with that cliff-hanger, I would recommend Angels and Demons to those who liked the DaVinci code or those who like suspenseful novels. If you did not like the Da Vinci code then you might want to steer away from Angels and Demons as well.

Monday, June 11, 2007

The House of the Scorpion

The House of the Scorpion, by Nancy Farmer, is a book about a young boy named Matt who is a clone of a mafia godfather like figure named El Patron. The book is set in a futuristic world where Mexico and the United States have been separated by a country called Dreamland. El Patron is one of the leaders of dreamland, and an opium baron. The book is split into parts by different time periods in Matt's life. As Matt grows up, he learns more about what it means to be a clone, and with the help of a girl named Maria, Matt discovers a horrible truth about his relationship with El Patron. Told with very little violence in a way that makes you forget you are reading a science fiction book, The House of the Scorpion is a great choice for younger science fiction readers.

I enjoyed House of the Scorpion because as the story progressed, Matt learned more and more about what it really means to be a clone. As he comes closer to the horrible truth, the book becomes more and more suspenseful, which is something that I like in my science fiction books. I also enjoyed the way the author could take a dire situation, and infuse enough charm in it to make it seem as though it were not as dire. This lead to a feeling of suspense with out the deep worry about what would happen to your favorite characters. Overall, The House of the Scorpion is great for new science fiction readers who are in elementary and middle school, and who want a fairly long read to tide them over the summer.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Bronx Masquerade

Bronx Masquerade, by Nikki Grimes, is a story about an inner-city school where on teacher is striving to make a difference in a way that seems contradictory to the setting where the story takes place. The teacher, Mr. Ward, is trying to get his students to travel the path of self revelation by writing poetry, a medium in which none of his students are very well versed in. The book follows a few of Mr. Ward's Students as they go about their daily lives. Each chapter about the kids is followed by a short poem, written by a student. The book continues like this, and you can see the subtle, but powerful, change that is worked within each of Mr. Ward's students. The book is a powerful testimony to the changing power of words.

Though Bronx Masquerade was a book that deviated from the normal type of book that I was reading at the time, it still kept me entertained as I read it. I would say that I liked it, even if it was not my favorite book of all time. I think the poetry within the chapters was what threw me, but the story kept me coming back for more. By the end of the book I had come to terms with the poetry, and I was not just skipping over it. The poetry in the book is half the story, so if you think that you are going to skip over most of it, then this probably is not the book for you. The story and the poetry are well written, and the individual tones of the students gives the book a charm that is hard to find in many books about inner city life. This book portrays life in the Bronx as difficult but engaging, and the way that Nikki Grimes writes really brings out the best in each of the characters. If you are a fan of poetry, or if you can stand some poetry along with a story, then Bronx Masquerade is a good choice for a high school reader.

Also a quick question. I am going to be away at camp from June 21st to July 14th and will need some reviews for the blog. I wanted to know whether any of the readers would like to submit a review that would be published? If you are interested drop me a line on my email: alagaesia00@gmail.com.


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