My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The year is 2066. A Caltech intern inadvertently notices an anomaly from a space telescope—something is approaching Saturn, and decelerating. Space objects don’t decelerate. Spaceships do.
A flurry of top-level government meetings produces the inescapable conclusion: Whatever built that ship is at least one hundred years ahead in hard and soft technology, and whoever can get their hands on it exclusively and bring it back will have an advantage so large, no other nation can compete. A conclusion the Chinese definitely agree with when they find out.
The race is on, and an remarkable adventure begins—an epic tale of courage, treachery, resourcefulness, secrets, surprises, and astonishing human and technological discovery, as the members of a hastily thrown-together crew find their strength and wits tested against adversaries both of this earth and beyond. What happens is nothing like you expect—and everything you could want from one of the world’s greatest masters of suspense.
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A great book, no doubt about it, and probably one of the more "solid" novels that I've read in years. By that, I mean that it kept my attention firmly from beginning to end and left me feeling satisfied. It's a combination of techno-thriller and hard sci-fi and, while I know that could sound rather heavy, it actually works well and flows superbly. I reckon that if Larry Niven and Tom Clancy were to have collaborated on a book it would've come out something like this. The sci-fi elements (which are almost space-opera in flavor) were nothing outstanding but solid nonetheless, and from this I get the feeling that this book is aimed more at a general audience rather than the dedicated sci-fi crowd. In general, there's not a whole lot to criticize, the subject matter and plot are great, it's written very well and the story moves about from scene to scene seamlessly. The characters are excellent as is the dialogue, and there's no shortage of all of the good stuff including a fair dose humor along the way as well, which was actually one of my favorite aspects of the book. The only reason that I didn't give it the fifth star was that I was expecting a big and surprising twist which never eventuated. As I said, I still felt satisfied with the end, but it felt like it was building up to something bigger. That should not put anyone who enjoys a good thriller from reading it, and I reckon it's not likely to disappoint.
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