Matthew Sobol, self made millionaire and creator of the world’s most popular online computer games, has died. After a long struggle with cancer his body finally gave up, but his mind will effect the world for much, much longer. Before his death he created a Daemon, a computer program, so smart that it can pick away any defences and cause havoc on a global scale. When Sobol’s obituary is posted on the internet the Daemon is activated, setting a series of events into motion that will change everything.
Originally self published in 2006 before gaining widespread readership and being picked up by Dutton Adult in the US, Daemon is an ambitious and action packed novel. Taking the one thing that almost everyone in western culture rely upon – computers – and effectively turned the day to day life of everyone into a time bomb has lifted Daemon above many novels. It may be fiction, but it is so thoroughly grounded in today’s world that the realism Daniel Suarez projects from these pages is startling in its clarity.
There is a good cast of characters in Daemon, each with their own unique voice and all are easily readable and enjoyable each time they show up on page. Although the Daemon/Matthew Sobol is the central character throughout, we have a good mix of others: Detective Pete Sebeck, investigating the murder of an employee from Sobol’s company whose destiny them becomes entwined with the Daemon; Jon Ross, a computer and Sobol expert who is not the person he seems; Brian Gragg, a computer hacker/identity stealer whose obsession leads down a dangerous road; Anji Anderson, a sacked reporter that suddenly gets a very powerful new ally. We also follow other characters that are all equally fascinating and contribute to a really interesting story – even the one off appearances feel right and have a depth to them that you really wouldn’t expect.
Although Daemon is full of techno babble, cutting edge technology and geeky online games, the combination of such an interesting plot, extremely good characters and a fully believable environment make one of the most action packed techno-thrillers I’ve ever read. Although it appears to stray a little into the more science fictional rather than science fact, I’m hard pushed not to believe any of this – it seems extremely likely that this sort of thing could actually happen, and God help everyone if it did!
I don’t have any criticism of Daemon – Daniel Suarez has written a superb novel that takes your expectations and turns them on their head while giving a masterful plot with some much surprising twists and turns. Excellent stuff that makes the sequel even more appealing than ever – especially with the ending we’re left with.