Sunday, March 2, 2014

SpiralSpiral by Paul McEuen
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The author of “Spiral”, Dr. Paul McEuen, is an eminent physicist at Cornell. He specializes in nanoscience and nanotechnology, and the list of his achievements is much longer than this review. He is the absolute tops in his area, one of the world’s best, a candidate for the Nobel Prize.

The first hundred or so pages of the novel are extremely interesting. The initial premise is fascinating. I remember thinking that this might have been the best thriller I had read in years. But then, somehow, inexplicably, the plot fizzles. The farther I read, the less interesting it got. The twists and turns became contrived and belabored. I have struggled to finish reading the book. Normally, I read about 200 pages a day. With this clunker I had to spend five days for the last 100 pages.

I could barely get past the delusional, imperial ramblings of old Kitano in Chapter 47. The whole era is past and gone, along with the Tokko soldiers and Bushido code. It is hard to believe in anything based on that. But even if we omit this stuff, the denouement is one of the most ridiculous I have ever seen in my long reading career.

Maybe people should limit themselves to do what they do best? Dr. McEuen has shown he is one of the top minds in the world. He is a genius. Writing thrillers is not what he is good at. Take, for instance, Karin Fossum of Norway. From a nano-sized seed in the plot, she is able to create a treatise on human condition. Dr. McEuen devolves a huge premise to a nano-sized payoff.

Two stars (just for the initial premise).

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