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First and foremost, Red Devil 4 is an excellent medical science fiction thriller rich with convincing detail. Clearly the author knows what he's talking about and didn't simply "read a book once" about the workings of the human brain. The characters are well-drawn, convincing and easily visualized, their behavior well-motivated and consistent. Suspense was in the "nail-biting" range, the ending impossible to predict yet ultimately satisfying.
The cautionary tale element is clear as man dabbles with brain implants and the development of artificial intelligence but even more chilling is the fact the author is not only a neurosurgeon but also involved in bioengineering, hinting at the potential for a dark prophetic element underlying the story's premise.
Ethical implications related to medical and legal issues were well-stated and thought-provoking to say the least. The fact that first and foremost medicine is indeed a profit-making business was readily apparent; helping people is purely incidental. Even the challenges of balancing a career with relationship and family obligations were addressed, particularly when a person's life's work has the potential of effecting a paradigm shift, making the characters even more believable and human.
I'm not one who cares for graphic or gratuitously gory descriptions but the author managed to make them tolerable, often by surprising bits of dry humor that had me laughing out loud. If you're a fan of Michael Crichton I especially recommend this book. It's highly intelligent and masterful in technique. I'm a picky and discriminating reader who continually has "editor mode" running in the background. As such there were a few metaphors that seemed inappropriate for a book set in the year 2053 and whoever the copy editor was missed numerous minor flaws like missing words. Nonetheless, I thoroughly enjoyed this book as a connoisseur of outstanding writing skill regardless of genre.
Marcha Fox is an avid science fiction fan and author with over 20 years experience at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. You can find her at www.StarTrailsSaga.com.
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