Book Review: Directive 51

Directive 51 (Daybreak, #1)Directive 51 by John Barnes

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Interesting enough to keep me plodding along, but also not interesting enough to really rouse any deep-seated excitement or interest. I personally thought the underlying premise of how the “Daybreak” organization was supposed to function as more than a bit implausible, particularly given what they were able to accomplish. And the idea of “biotes” and whatnot as destroyers of modern technology have also been done with far more originality in The Martian General’s Daughter, which explored many of the same ideas as this work.


But, again, having said all of the preceding, I kept coming back to the well, and I suppose I possibly might even take a stab at the whole trilogy. (Which is a possibility I specifically discounted in my one comment while in the midst of reading the book.) However, what would put me off such a course is that this book just seemed to go on and on and on, often like a six year old’s shaggy dog story, meandering back and forth, as though the author had never heard of editing, or that he’s somehow being paid by the pound. But then abruptly at around Page 425, there’s this rather iffy plot twist that I had a rather difficult time swallowing. Particularly the way in which the two antagonists seem to have this “sort of” epiphany from a meeting of three or four hours. Won’t say exactly what it is, but I will mark this review as containing a “spoiler,” since I am mentioning this, even if in only general terms. Almost like Barnes was bumping up against a deadline or a publisher imposed limit of around five hundred pages, and he had to grab at a deux ex machina solution to meet this demand.

Perhaps this will be one of those books that “grows” on me; I can think of at least one case off the top of my head where I wrote a very harsh two-star review…but have kept thinking about the story off and on since then, and do plan on re-reading it at some point. I can’t imagine that if my review had reflected my true feelings I’d have done anything but forgotten about it as quickly as possible after the fact. And I’ve not. But…mitigating against that here is the sort of literary “Bataan Death March” I felt myself upon as characters ping-ponged around from place to place rather mindlessly.

So, I didn’t hate it, but can’t say I really liked it, other than to note that, yes, there was enough here to keep me turning pages. And since it is a pet peeve of mine when people write some “X.5 stars” in a review, there’s absolutely no way I could ever take such a cowardly way out/do that (show some frickin’ backbone, people); 3 stars here giving the benefit of the doubt to the text.

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