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Friday, December 1, 2006

Code of Conduct

Code of Conduct by Kristine Smith

7 of 12 people found the following review helpful:

March 21, 2002

You look at the reviews, by professionals and amateurs, and this sounds like an amazing novel by an up-and-coming author. Once you start reading, you realize that this book is nothing special at all. It's supposed to be a sci-fi mystery, but almost the entire book takes place in the same building, which limits how much the reader can explore Smith's world.

Although mystery is not really the word I'd use to describe Jani Kilian's investigation, audit is more like it. She reviews papers, talks to a few people, and stumbles onto the truth. My main question about Smith's world is why PAPER has so much value in the future. Even now businesses are phasing out paper with E-mail and networks, so why in a few hundred years would paper still be so important? Smith does what other sci-fi authors do, which irritates me to no end: she never explains her world, but forces the reader to accept it all on faith. I'd like to know why paper is important, what these enigmatic Gateways are, and why is the capital of the world in Chicago? (and why does Smith make Chicago sound like the Arctic?) That's hard to do in a first-person story, but in third-person narration like in this book, it's easier to work that background in and satisfy the reader's curiosity.

Finally, the most irritating thing about Code of Conduct is the non-stop internal narration and characters talking to themselves. It's fine if characters talk to themselves or if the author gives their internal thoughts sometimes, but too much becomes a distraction.

In summary, Code of Conduct lacks the action and mystery to be as good as critics make it out to be. At best it is adequate reading for a rainy day, or when there just isn't anything else at hand. Since it was Smith's first book, I'm giving her the benefit of the doubt and am reading the sequel.

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