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on Sep. 04, 2010 :
With some serious editing, this book would make a good movie. The plot is consistent with some of the action/adventure thrillers gracing the screen, and the concept is original, and one I haven't quite seen before.
That being said, this book needs a lot of work. The author uses a lot of descriptive language, and some of it is quite nice. However, those phrases are thrown into a mix of run-on sentences filled with grammar errors, and noticeably lacking proper punctuation (I'm not sure there is a comma anywhere). Quite a few times, I found myself giggling aloud...at parts I am pretty sure were not meant to be funny. Many chapter divisions seem to come in the wrong place, throwing off the cadence of the book. The dialogue is awkward, and there seems to be only two ways people talk, one of which is "yelling." At times I felt like the author thought of a few cool ways to say something, couldn't decide which one to use, then put them all in. I think good editing would make for a more succinct and engaging storyline. There are also a lot of strange transitions, confusing action scenes, and extraneous events that detract from the storyline. Less is more.
As I started reading, I wanted to give this book at least three stars. Then I kept reading and wanted to give it one star. Just by virtue of actually wanting to finish it (which I did by doing a fair amount of skimming so I wouldn't be distracted so much by the writing), I gave it two stars.
I found the topic interesting, and I wanted to like the book. After some serious editing and revising, perhaps I could.
(reviewed long after purchase)
Anthony A. Policastro
on Jan. 11, 2010 :
When planes start dropping out of the sky and when people and their electronic equipment - computers and cellular phones - are baked and fried from a deadly energy pulse, the CIA, FBI, Homeland Security, and the President of the United States discover they are helpless against their own technology, which has been commandeered by a group of terrorists and turned against them. Without any plausible way for the government to prevent the terrorists from destroying the lives of millions of people on the East Coast - unless the government meets their demands - Dan Riker, a family man and an IT Security Expert, finds himself in the middle of a technological war that will remind the reader of the many patriotic exploits of Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan. If you like Jack Ryan, you’ll love Dan Riker.
Policastro’s second novel, Dark End of the Spectrum, is a blockbuster of a story, with nonstop action that will keep you turning the pages. You will be swept away not only by the nonstop action that is typical of such authors as Tom Clancy, James Rollins, and Harlan Coben, you’ll be captivated by Dan Riker’s wife, Amelia, and his daughter, Kaileigh, who are abducted and held hostage by the terrorists to prevent Riker from helping the government. You will be reminded of one of the more classical and memorable lines of Bogart when he says to Bergman at the end of Casablanca: “The problem of three little people don’t mount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.” And this is significant because Bogart expresses the same sentiments Riker feels throughout the story, especially when he is forced to choose between saving the lives of millions of unsuspecting people or saving the lives of his beloved wife and daughter. Since reading Dark End of the Spectrum, I’ve often asked myself how would I respond if I woke up one morning and found myself facing a similar, undesirable situation or predicament as Dan Riker.
Creating fascinating prose, a wrenching human drama, and nonstop action is not an easy feat for any writer to accomplish, but Policastro succeeds superbly. He manages to explicate in layman terms the intricate workings behind modern technology, including PDAs, ultra wide band frequencies, heat seeking projectiles, direct energy weapons, direct energy pulses, global positioning systems, eye scans, computer chips with artificial intelligence, cellular phone technology, and the Internet. You will be more than a little fascinated by the workings of the neural bracelet that Riker and Takara wear on their wrists to communicate without the help of words their inner thoughts, emotions, and desires to one another over distance.
Dan Riker will find his way out of several interesting and deadly situations. For instance, Policastro will have him trapped in a buried school bus with Jake Stone, a former CIA agent and IT expert who will help Riker escape from the terrorists. Riker is also sent on a 150-mile trek across North Carolina to Wilmington in search of his wife and daughter, and falls into another trap. Your heart will be racing and pumping adrenaline as Riker narrowly escapes heat seeking projectiles, and cellular phones that are used by the terrorists to deliver deadly energy pulses.
Policastro portrays Riker as a well-rounded American male, whose life may be described as normal, serene, and unchallenging. However, all of this changes when his family is abducted and he becomes obsessed with the idea of revenge and doing whatever it takes to get his wife and daughter safely back home. While driving back to Raleigh from Wilmington, he recalls how he had argued with Amelia at the end of what had begun as a pleasant day-trip to the beach, and he feels both guilt and remorse, as he looks across at the empty seat where Amelia would’ve been sitting if she hadn’t been abducted and if he hadn’t thought he was the only man who could stop the terrorist and save his country.
Policastro skillfully breaks up the pacing and rhythm of the action by introducing comic relief at crucial moments in the characters of Jeanine Braggloisi and Gary Stakhower. You will find their repartee to be comedic, delightful, and promising. It is a wonderful touch to a fast-paced story.
The author also brings into discussion major themes and conflicts that keenly differentiate between old and new technology, and human and artificial intelligence. Happily for mankind, the author creates a world in which human intelligence with all its flaws still has the mental wherewithal to outsmart the artificial intelligence it strove to create through computer silicon chips. It is the old technology of radio vacuum tubes and the courage of Hildy Grummenweurkes that eventually outsmarts the artificial intelligence of the computer chip that was growing exponentially stronger or more intelligent with the passing of each day. The scale representing human intelligence on one side and artificial intelligence on the other side is shifting. Riker, Friedheld, Sanchez, Motega, Bastille, Braggloisi, Stakhower, Taraka, Grummenweurkes and others are able to thwart or slow down the shift in balance, keeping it, for the moment, in favor of humanity. But, the author has made us aware that a shift in balance is occurring, and that a day might arrive when the balance of power might shift in favor of artificial intelligence. If this should occur, will humanity becomes slaves of machines with higher artificial intelligence? I don’t know. But, I am thankful that we have authors like Anthony Samuel Policastro who raise our awareness to these possibilities, and create interesting characters like Dan Riker who will strive to keep the balance of power in favor of humanity.
(reviewed the day of purchase)
on Jan. 09, 2010 :
Unfortunately, this book is a waste of time. I had great expectations, and the plot had so much potential. But the way the story is being told is just horrible. Action scenes are confusing and don't make sense, the author forgets things he set up and ignores them as he goes on, everyone is omnipotent and clairvoyant, no escalation before things get hectic ... half the time you're just wondering if this book is a rough draft that inadvertently got released.
I had to put it down after about a third. I could not continue despite my urge to see how things turn out.
Then again, I'm just an average reader with no literary skills, and other people seem to love it, so maybe it's just me.
(reviewed long after purchase)
on Aug. 26, 2009 :
A great technological read and most of it is plausible. The author has to resort to science fiction to solve the problem he had created but other than that the technology is solid. Most importantly, the book is a real page turner. Once I started I could not finish.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)
on Aug. 24, 2009 :
I'd like to do 3 1/2 stars. It was a little choppy and disjointed at times.. yet I still had to see what the outcome was.
(reviewed long after purchase)
on Aug. 19, 2009 :
Enthralling book with an interesting plot that makes you read and read till the end.
The plot involves the latest communications technology and some futuristic inventions mixed with the worries and the day by day of a family man that becomes involved in a nightmare where thousands of people die and terrorists threaten the whole country.
He's a key man to defeat them.
(reviewed within a week of purchase)
on June 09, 2009 :
At 468 pages, Dark End of the Spectrum, by Anthony S. Policastro, felt rather long to me, but the pages turned quickly, even on a computer, and by the time the CIA arrived to take Dan away from his family on a sunny day off I was thoroughly hooked. I’m not sure what I’d have done then if my cell-phone had rung.
The author understands technology. He talks about Ultra Wide Band transmissions and 512 bit encryption, and I wonder how out of date I am. But he’s plausible and convincing when he describes the danger of secure networks being compromised by wireless devices. It’s certainly interesting to see how we might sacrifice security for simplicity, and then to be sideswiped by the idea that we might have sacrificed security in the name of avoiding terrorism too.
But the novel isn’t just about technology gone wild. Dan has a wife and child and a home life too, and the up-down relationship of a marriage strained by work grounds the tale very realistically. The author writes convincing dialog, and Amelia’s sudden anger as Dan leaves to help the CIA saddened me because of its plausibility. It did disappoint me that Dan so easily attributes her outburst to her period. But then…
Well, then the story really takes off. DEWs and HSPs and other acronyms abound, but the reader soon learns to speak the same language. Dan runs for his life, not knowing who to trust, while the whole world falls apart. Cars, helicopters and houses are destroyed. People die, spectacularly. And, when the whole country is held to ransom, even the President gets involved.
Descriptive details and discussions slowed the story down at times, but not enough to distract me from reading on. I stayed hunched over the computer late at night, wishing I had a paperback to carry to bed, but unable to stop reading. This is certainly a thrilling book for anyone who likes technology, conspiracy, action and disaster; one to read when you’ve plenty of time to spare because you’ll not want to put it down. Your computer had better not be acting up and your cell-phone not be on the blink. And you’d better hope no one hacks into the power grid.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)