Tag: John Barnes

Directive 51

Directive 51 by John BarnesWell, now that I’ve recovered from the post-election jitters, I have four words, followed by about 400 words:

This. Book. Terrified. Me.

Directive 51 is a grim near-future science fiction thriller charting the disintegration of modern civilization, which segues into a tale of how pockets of survivors in the US draw together and how these new-born factions see their role in rebuilding the US, and what kind of a US they have to look forward to. Honestly, reading this in the early stages of the 2016 election probably made it particularly depressing, but I definitely am taking a break from thrillers and grim stories and tales of disintegration for a while. On the other hand, I greatly enjoyed this book, as uncomfortable a vision as it portrays, and hope to read the next two books in the series someday as well, partly because I want to know how it turns out on the political struggle level, and partly because I want to see how human civilization adapts technologically and societally to the post-Daybreak world.

The book is a series of scenes from many different viewpoints, both from the perspective of Daybreakers and the government agents trying to stop them. At first this was jarring, especially because the first few scenes are introductions that don’t establish a whole lot, but after each character had had a few scenes I had settled into it.

One thing that was very interesting is the depth that Barnes has put into Daybreak and their tactics, strategy, and technology. Daybreak is a fairly interesting concept for a terrorist organization, and the strategy behind it and the general strategy of the Daybreak master plan was very interesting for me. The biological science and engineering practices behind the Daybreak nanoswarm and biotes is also really interesting, and terrifying because it seems so plausible. And in general, the story has a lot of warnings about the dangers a modern globalized capitalistic society poses when it falls.

The title of the book is a little misleading, honestly. You might expect the drama to be about Directive 51 itself. In reality, most of the first half of the book is about Daybreak itself as it is enacted, the middle is about how things disintegrate, and only the very endgame of the book is about the consequences of Directive 51. Additionally, the book can be hard to stick with, as often scenes stretch on for longer than I would like. Definitely read a few pages before picking it up.

Cover Art Review: Honestly, not a huge fan. It’s very washed out, does not convey a sense of place, and it’s not entirely clear which character that is or what moment that is. But it does convey the mood of the book very well, which I suppose is the most important thing.