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Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Increment: A Novel. by David Ignatius

David Ignatius
It started out so strong but...

The Increment started out so strong, the characters were so strong, the plot was crisp and the whole thing just felt right.

The plot centers around two characters. One is an Iranian nuclear scientist that is disillusioned with the Iranian regime. The other character is a veteran CIA chief - the head of the Iranian desk.

Like I said, the book starts out very strong. I was intrigued by the characters, the situation and the back story of the two main characters.

By the end of the first page I was convinced I was reading a 5 star book.

But, the characters started to change. They started acting differently. For example, the head of the CIA is a retired Admiral. He comes off as a principled, with-it kind of leader who is just out of his element when he's not commanding a ship. Fine. Later on, he has multiple scenes in which he just plays with toy ships rather than making decisions. He goes from being a leader to being a little boy. Other characters make similar shifts.

So, for the 2nd 100 pages I had determined that this was probably a 4 star book. Good, but not great.

Throw in the goofy technology (you cannot realistically power an electronic device through radio waves, folks, if we could your cell phone would never run out of power. This book has a device being powered by a hand held device hidden under a robe beaming signals through the walls of a hardened nuclear facility - fun stuff but more sci-fi than reality), the satellite system that literally takes dozens of photos of ALL of Iran, including dumpy little towns that aren't even on the map (we photograph every square inch all day long and we don't know what's going on?), and the skimpy treatment of the special unit that the book is named after and...

well, the book degenerated to a 3 star piece of pulp fiction. Nothing special. It's a good airplane ride read.

Reviewed on May 20, 2009.

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