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Monday, November 03, 2003
Lincoln Child's Utopia 

Title: Utopia
Author: Lincoln Child
Genre: Action-Thriller

A book recommend by WH Smith (UK based store), I bought Utopia while waiting for a friend in a London train station. I was attracted by the synopsis of this book where it seemed to imply a techno-thriller, much like the book 'Prey' by Michael Crichton. However, I was mistaken. The story does revolves around the use of advanced technology (all thanks to the imaginative power of the author), but this is no doubt an action-thriller book.

The story is set in the world's grandest theme park, Utopia. The theme park is equipped with, and I quote from its synopsis - 'cutting edge robot technology, awe-inspiring holographics and white-knuckle thrills'. The park currently boasts of four big 'worlds', namely Camelot, Gaslight, Boardwalk, Callisto - each representing a special theme. The more I read the book the more I wished that such a theme park exist today. It was an easy read right from the start.

The main characters in this book are Dr. Andrew Warne, Sarah Boatwright, Angus Poole and John Doe. Andrew Warne is a robotics specialist and the creator of Utopia's 'Metanet' - a self-learning system designed to improve the performance of the robots used in the park. At the end of everyday, after analyses, Metanet will download new and optimised codes to these robots if it was found necessary.

Andrew Warne arrived at Utopia thinking that the park administration, lead by Sarah Boatwright, wanted to expand the role of Metanet to another new world in Utopia, called 'Atlantis'. Little did he know that the administration actually wanted him to help disassemble Metanet. Apparently various accidents has been occurring in the park in recent weeks and was caused by robots malfunctioning.

Thinking that his life's work has actually failed him, Andrew started helping another robotics specialist in Utopia, Teresa Bonifacio, to set up a plan to disassemble Metanet and the robots. To his surprise (again), actually someone has been tampering with Metanet and rogue codes have been added to its original programme. Confident that his work was not at fault, he confronted Sarah - and was met by more disturbing news.

Now, from the beginning of the book, two other separate (but connected) stories runs in parallel to the story around Andrew Warne - one around Sarah Boatwright and the second around John Doe (he's the bad guy) and his accomplices.

At this point, it's very hard for me not to provide spoilers. Safe to say, John Doe and his men later hijacked the park, and in exchange for the safety of its visitor, demanded the handover of some cutting-edge technology from the park administrators. But was this the true reason of them hijacking the park in the first place?

Half-way through the book, another character develops. Angus Poole is a visitor to the park, accompanying his cousin and family. Poole's character was a mysterious one at first and as the story unfolded his background and history became clearer. Nice character and helped the story-telling fresh. He soon got involved when he offered to help Andrew and Sarah in their desperate attempt to overcome these 'hijackers'. Do they succeed?

Plots continue to unfold throughout the book and the author tries to keep its readers guessing them. This was the theme that the author has set for this book, right from the beginning to the end.

To end my review, I quote from the comments Amazon.com has for this book, 'Die Hard in a theme park! Lincoln Child's first solo novel and is fantastic!' Well, maybe not so much 'Die Hard', but Child certainly wove a brilliant and highly imaginative story.

Do check it out! Read exerpts of the book at Amazon.com here.

Ivan  # 9:58 PM