Freedom by Daniel Suarez

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Freedom by Daniel Suarez

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Category: Crime
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Iain Wear
Reviewed by Iain Wear
Summary: Another fast-paced thriller from Suarez, with some nice ideas. It does get a little repetitive in parts, but acts as a decent counterpoint to his previous novel.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 358 Date: May 2011
Publisher: Quercus
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0857381224

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A short while ago, I read Daniel Suarez's debut novel Daemon, which was a gripping technological thriller. It may not have been a terribly original idea, but it was well written if a little lacking in character building and it did seem to end a little abruptly. The reason for this abrupt end now becomes clear, as there is now a sequel, Freedom™.

The computer daemon unleashed by Matthew Sobol in Daemon has expanded into a whole darknet community. Whole towns are now part of the darknet and are building and working in ways suggested by the daemon, seeking true independence from the Government and any influence outside the darknet. They are assisted by Loki and his army of razorbacks, who are seeking those who most want to destroy the daemon.

Meanwhile, the Government is not happy with the increasing influence of the daemon. Agent Phillips is still trying to crack the code that will destroy it and The Major is looking to destroy the communities with more violent means. Meanwhile Jon Ross has become part of the darknet and Pete Sebeck is on a daemon inspired quest to see if humanity needs to be saved inside the daemon, or if it could possibly have the same quality of life without it.

Once again, this is a very fast moving novel, switching from darknet to those trying to stop it with sometimes dizzying frequency, but keeping both sides of the story going well enough to want to keep reading. With much of the background to the daemon covered in the earlier novel, there is no need for story or character building here and Suarez concentrates solely on the action side of things. Whilst this does mean this works less effectively as a standalone novel, it does keep the pace high.

This does have a slight downside in that some aspects that could have done with more detail did get skimmed over a little. Personally, I would have liked to have known more about how the darknet communities came into being, in much the same way as Daemon showed how the people who were originally called to serve the daemon came to their calling. There were several mentions of the use of a function Magnetic Resonance Imaging technique which, although shown once, was mentioned rather than explored.

The high pace did seem to take some of the novelty of the ideas away. Loki spends most of his time hunting down The Major and when he thinks he's found him, he sends in a squadron of specially converted motorbikes called razorbacks. When these first appeared at the end of Daemon, they were a great and novel idea, but here they appear so often that they soon get a little boring.

That is not to say that Suarez has run out of idea completely. Some of the tricks that The Major use to try and infiltrate the darknet and capture senior members of it are quite clever. The ways they obtain certain things from these people are inventive, if a little disturbing at points. The whole character of Roy Merritt this time around is also a superb piece of imagination, as are some of the new darknet items of weaponry.

It was perhaps slightly naive of me to think that the level of amazement and invention Daniel Suarez showed in Daemon could be continued into Freedom™. However, there is still room for plenty of ideas here and the two books work together very well and the story arc is perfectly set over the two books. On balance, I preferred the first book of the two, but this still has enough about it to be well worth a read, especially for fans of technical thrillers and Suarez's debut in particular.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

For more techno-thriller books, check out Halting State by Charles Stross, which uses similar ideas.

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