Sunday, January 24, 2010

Book Review: Brain Thief

Brain Thief

By: Alexander Jablokov

Publisher: Tor

Publish Date: January 2010

Format: Hardcover, 383 pages

Genre: Science Fiction

Series: Stand alone (I believe)

Recommendation: If you like mystery and science fiction, read this. There is lots of mystery solving in this one.

Book Synopsis:
Bernal Haydon-Rumi, executive assistant to a funder of eccentric projects, drops by his boss's house on the way home from a business trip. By the next morning, he's been knocked out, his wealthy socialite boss, Muriel, has stolen a car and vanished, and the AI designed for planetary exploration that she's been funding turns out to be odder than it should be. In figuring out what's going on, Bernal has to deal with an anti-AI activist toting a hand-made electronic arsenal, a local serial killer, a drug dealer with a business problem, a cryonic therapist stalked by past mistakes - and someone who specifically wants Bernal dead.

First Sentence:
For Bernal, the message in the cowboy boot finally confirmed that something was wrong.

My Review and Summary:
The mystery starts right away when Bernal is just coming home from a business trip stopping by to see his boss. He gets the feeling something's not right. You start to see, as well, something is askew. Chasing his boss as she runs away and steals a car to get away. What is going on? Muriel, Bernals boss, leaves hints and messages to help steer him on the right path to help him with the mystery of Hesketh. Hesketh is an artificial intelligence that is on a sample run through the hillsides before it is actually sent into space.

I have to say I understood what was going on at the beginning of the book. Then there were a lot of strange things mentioned in which I got confused on. There was talk of Hesketh, Hess Corp - who worked on Hesketh before Madeline and Muriel took on the project with Muriels money, and Long Voyage - a cryobank for people wanting to wake up in the future. The confusion was not that I didn't completely understand what I was reading but mostly that I didn't believe what I was reading. I couldn't figure out if I was reading and comprehending it properly. (This being part of the mystery stuff.) I started to tally all the information I was getting separately in my head then piecing it together to see where the book was going. I was just a little ahead of the author, as just as I was doing this he then started to do it in the book. At around 150 pages into the book Bernal started to piece the puzzle together as well. Which when I hit this point I was so proud of myself as I was coming right up at the same lines as the main character. Hurray for me to understand and put it together! Then there was new information added nicely from this point to include in solving the mystery.

Part of the best part of the book that kept me going was wondering who was leaving the messages and who was dead or alive, who was the serial killer, and what was going on with Hesketh (if it really worked). In the end I got the answers I was looking for. The mystery element was what kept me going in the book.

The characters unfold nicely as the book goes. There are a few characters you really don't truly meet and follow through but they feel as they are main characters by the way they are talked about, described, and messages passed on. I liked this angle as I really felt I got to know these characters and they really came through. In the end I really enjoyed most of the characters.

There were just a few minor unfavored points: There were a few spots that when things were brought up or thought, it almost felt like it didn't really flow or blend with what was going on. Almost like the information was needed and had to be told somewhere, but there were only a small few of these. Then there was the main character Bernal. I felt like I really didn't get to know him as well as the other characters. I mean I did get to know him but for some reason I didn't feel the connection as much with him as all the other characters. I liked him but that was all. He did do a great job of solving the mystery at hand and sticking to his guns on his ideas.

This has been a wonderful mystery with the science fiction element added in. Many of the characters have parallel characteristics which could point to them as the possible killer behind all of this. But there is one that fits all the pieces very well. Can you figure it out?

This book qualifies for my reads in the challenge of Speculative Fiction at Book Chick City.


  1. Sounds interesting and I love the cover!

  2. I was curious to know what you were going to think of this one. I havne't been following the discussion over at BN because I wasn't reading it but it does sound good. I may have to pick this one up in the future.

  3. I'm glad you ended up liking the book, though it sounds too complicated for me.

  4. Zia - It was very interesting. I really love a good mystery story and the scifi element was a nice touch to it.

    Ryan - I really liked it. I was starting to worry there at the beginning as I was a little lost in myself on what I was reading. But I just had to take a step back and think on what I had read and realize there is some connection here some how now figure it out. That was the fun part for me.

    Simcha - There was a lot to it in the beginning, then it got easier. One of the biggest questions was are they alive or dead? and is Hesketh really working or not? does it even exist? I enjoyed it but in the first 150 pages had to think on them.


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