Review

Freedom™

by Daniel Suarez

When Daniel Suarez burst onto the thriller fiction scene last
year with the release of his bestseller, DAEMON, he came across
like a scary hybrid of Michael Crichton and Bill Gates. His new
novel, FREEDOM™, is not so much a sequel as it is a straight
follow-up, picking up right where his debut left off.

Not since George Orwell posed the concept of “Big
Brother” has a novelist so captured the fear of the human
race losing control of their thoughts and, in this case,
technological freedom than the nightmarish premise Daniel Suarez
has devised. Anyone in the “techie” community knows
that Daemons are out there as operating systems that seamlessly
exist behind the technology and programming we use each and every
day. Suarez himself admits that software bots are already running
the modern world. So what would happen if a technological genius
should use his last dying act to create a Daemon that would take
over the cyberworld and attempt to construct a new world order in
the resulting chaos? Such is the premise of Suarez’s
novels.

FREEDOM™ begins with the Daemon already holding the modern
world firmly in its grip --- and we are seemingly powerless to stop
it. A cross-functional team made up of members of several U.S. and
global organizations (NSA, Homeland Security, FBI, CIA, etc.) bands
together to fight the creation of late software and computer wizard
Matthew Sobol. Sobol’s Daemon is all but unstoppable --- and
the Daemon’s will is given human form in the presence of
thousands of techie acolytes who were previously the outcasts of
“modern” society and now do the Daemon’s bidding
and help facilitate its designated agenda.

Being labeled the “darknet”, or the encrypted
wireless network that Sobol created, what may have begun as good
intentions has turned dangerously evil. Where DAEMON merely set the
table for this techno-thriller, FREEDOM™ runs on
full-throttle power with a non-stop narrative filled with horrific
acts of violence and amazing stories of bravery in the face of
world domination. The heroes of the first novel are still in place
here (Jon Ross, Natalie Phillips and the resurrected Pete Sebeck).
Sebeck has found a sort of rebellion taking place in the middle
part of the U.S. whereby bands of enlightened freedom fighters are
taking this technological holocaust to be a cause for alarm,
forcing people once again to discover methods of survival long
considered primitive --- family, living off the land, community and
love. Can this “Corn Rebellion” have any impact in the
face of the Daemon’s darknet community?

Simultaneously, NSA cryptanalyst Natalie Phillips has discovered
big business industrialists, scientists and techies working on
Operation Exorcist --- the search for a way to secretly exorcise
the Daemon and destroy the darknet while reclaiming control of the
electronic world. With the cost of oil spinning out of control,
Wall Street brought to its knees and unemployment at record highs,
Suarez’s premise for these novels seem to come directly from
today’s headlines, and it gives the reader more than a few
minutes to ponder deeply and take serious pause. There is one
particular moment in which I found levity: a super-sorcerer from
the darknet nicknamed Loki gets angry when a rude patron cuts him
on line at a store and proceeds to use his super-technological
powers the Daemon has granted him to “destroy” this
perpetrator by bankrupting him, ruining his credit and getting a
warrant posted for all of his unpaid parking tickets. There has
been more than one occasion where I would love to have had
Loki’s abilities!

The bottom line to FREEDOM™ is the fact that darknet is no
different from any other social system. The powerful ignore the
weak, and the hopeless seek to buy into the new world order if
there’s something in it for them. Is Sobol’s tale
really that demented, or is it merely an answer to the corrupt
world we have already allowed to grow around us and control
everything? Daniel Suarez has created a vision that makes Aldous
Huxley’s BRAVE NEW WORLD seem like a child’s fairy
tale. A true horror story for the technological age.

Reviewed by Ray Palen on January 22, 2011

Freedom™
by Daniel Suarez

  • Publication Date: January 4, 2011
  • Genres: Fiction, Thriller
  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Signet
  • ISBN-10: 0451231899
  • ISBN-13: 9780451231895