103. Utopia (Lincoln Child)

Sunday, July 11, 2010
Plot summary from Lincoln Child's official website:

Rising out of the stony canyons of Nevada, Utopia is a world on the cutting edge of technology. A theme park attracting 65,000 visitors each day, its dazzling array of robots and futuristic holograms make it a worldwide sensation. But ominous mishaps are beginning to disrupt the once flawless technology. A friendly robot goes haywire, causing panic, and a popular roller coaster malfunctions, nearly killing a teenaged rider. Dr. Andrew Warne, the brilliant computer engineer who designed much of the park’s robotics, is summoned from the East Coast to get things back on track.

On the day Warne arrives, however, Utopia is caught in the grip of something far more sinister. A group of ruthless criminals has infiltrated the park’s computerized infrastructure, giving them complete access to all of Utopia’s attractions and systems. Their communication begins with a simple and dire warning: If their demands are met, none of the 65,000 people in the park that day will ever know they were there; if not, chaos will descend, and every man, woman, and child will become a target. As one of the brains behind Utopia, Warne finds himself thrust into a role he never imagined–trying to save the lives of thousands of innocent people. And as the minutes tick away, Warne’s struggle to outsmart his opponents grows ever more urgent, for his only daughter is among the unsuspecting crowds in the park.

Yet another familiar author on this blog. Like my weird taste for James Rollins' cheesy novels, I'm developing quite the taste for Lincoln Child. Not a huge fan of most of his collaborations with longtime literary partner, Douglas Preston, but his individual work keeps me entertained. When I first read a blurb about this book, it didn't mention anything about "ruthless criminals" or cyber terrorists - the hook for me was the robots gone amok. Who doesn't like a "good robot gone bad" story? Turns out, the story's not really about the robots which was disappointing, and I had a revelation half way through the book about the real identity of 'John Doe' which turned out to be all in my head (also disappointing...it would have made a great plot twist).

Child's novels seem (as do Rollins') written for the big screen - not surprising given the fact that both authors have had novels turned into feature films (or written screenplays). As usual, I'll recommend this one but I'm not going to push that anyone else reads it. I consider it thriller-fluff. No more exciting or thrilling than most of the genre out there. Mind you, that might just make it perfect summer reading. If you're heading to the beach, the cabin, or camping with friends and need something light on the old grey matter to read, pack a copy in your bag.

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