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Directive 51 (Daybreak Series #1)

Average Rating 3.5
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

5 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

Directive 51 is a fascinating near future thriller

In 2007, National Security Presidential Directive (NSPD) 51 was signed to allow the executive branch to claim extraordinary power during a catastrophe. A couple of decades after the announcement of NSPD 51, the Office of Future Threat Assessment Assistant Secretary Hea...
In 2007, National Security Presidential Directive (NSPD) 51 was signed to allow the executive branch to claim extraordinary power during a catastrophe. A couple of decades after the announcement of NSPD 51, the Office of Future Threat Assessment Assistant Secretary Heather O'Grainne leads an inquiry into a potential homegrown terrorist cell, Daybreak. The vision of this diverse group is the destruction of the Big System that each member believes destroyed the American way of life.

Rumors about the group has O'Grainne panicking as apparently Daybreak possesses the nanotechnology to destroy two centuries of technology. Around the globe catastrophes occur leaving billions dead and American going backward in technology. With the government failing faster than society is, NSPD 51 is implemented, but perhaps too late as the two spirals of death and technological collapse continues unabated.

Directive 51 is a fascinating near future thriller that looks deep into what would happen if modern day technology somewhat predicted where we would be in twenty years or so suddenly stopped working and reverted back to the early nineteenth century. The frantic effort to prevent the collapse of the world seems too little and too late as the Feds work at a snail's pace while the Daybreak antiterrorists move out faster than the speed of light. Although the story line adopts too easily Stalin's alleged commentary that "The death of one man is a tragedy, the death of millions is a statistic", fans will enjoy this cautionary tale that proclaims that sometimes you get what you wish for.

Harriet Klausner

posted by harstan on February 25, 2010

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Most Helpful Critical Review

2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

It's the End of the World As We Know It ... or So We Thought

We share a certain inescapable curiosity when it comes to "end times" fiction, and I think this is largely because we've always shared the ability to ponder such a fundamentally simple premise as "What if .?" We could be considering almost anything - much like George Ba...
We share a certain inescapable curiosity when it comes to "end times" fiction, and I think this is largely because we've always shared the ability to ponder such a fundamentally simple premise as "What if .?" We could be considering almost anything - much like George Bailey did when he wondered what life would've been like for others if he'd never been born in the movie, IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE - and it's a universal experience to apply the same filter to our lives in times of stress and tumult. John Barnes' novel, DIRECTIVE 51, probes the depths of the 'what if' scenario as it applies to throwing civilization culturally and technologically back about 100 years in development. In short, Daybreakers - a kind of faceless cult of zealots tired of civilization's progress - launch a series of world-wide terror attacks (airborne toxins that break down plastics and other materials) with hopes of throwing mankind back into the Stone Age. However, their game-plan gets notched up a few pegs on the terrorism headboard when real terrorists seize upon the opportunity to also detonate nuclear fusion bombs around the world, further exacerbating any government's ability to mount a suitable defense. Before you can say "Jack Bauer," America - the principle setting for DIRECTIVE 51 - is in chaos with Washington DC destroyed, citizens looting in the streets, and average folks fighting for their very survival against even the most basic elements of Mother Nature. Unable to fend for themselves, entire cities burn to the ground, police and tactical units fall into disarray, and the outlook is, indeed, nothing but grim. And THAT's only the Daybreakers' first salvo! DIRECTIVE 51 is serious stuff, probably not intended for the lightweight or casual science fiction reader. It isn't about any type of Biblical prophecy coming to fruition so much as it is a parable for contemporary disenfranchisement with man's tremulous position within the world of technology overload . or is that overkill? The "Directive 51" (referenced in the title) is the factual Presidential order that sets procedures in place for dealing with continuity-of-government at a time when the functioning 'head' (so to speak) has been decapitated. That's where this novel works best . not so much as a scientific thriller (though I've no doubt that Barnes knows his stuff so far as the technology presented here goes) but moreso as a political 'what if' postulating how a nation state adjusts to circumstances further crippling the ability to maintain order. Some of these moments in political posturing perhaps don't play out as well as they could have, but such is the nature of events in a tightly constructed world of fiction; in DIRECTIVE 51, events spur folks to action - not such much their core values, which may need to be comprised for the greater good - and I found some of the developments little more than political posturing on the part of a non-politician. Doesn't mean they couldn't happen. Just didn't seem to mesh with what I particularly believe could've happened. It's a subtle difference, but it's one that impacted my ability to fully enjoy the tale. Regardless of the meaty subject matter, I found entire sections of DIRECTIVE 51 difficult reading, but this was for all of the wrong reasons. Sadly, I failed to connect with most of these characters, and it seems like there are, literally, hundreds of them. Granted, some of them are more incidental and not nece

posted by Manchops on March 31, 2011

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  • Posted February 25, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Directive 51 is a fascinating near future thriller

    In 2007, National Security Presidential Directive (NSPD) 51 was signed to allow the executive branch to claim extraordinary power during a catastrophe. A couple of decades after the announcement of NSPD 51, the Office of Future Threat Assessment Assistant Secretary Heather O'Grainne leads an inquiry into a potential homegrown terrorist cell, Daybreak. The vision of this diverse group is the destruction of the Big System that each member believes destroyed the American way of life.

    Rumors about the group has O'Grainne panicking as apparently Daybreak possesses the nanotechnology to destroy two centuries of technology. Around the globe catastrophes occur leaving billions dead and American going backward in technology. With the government failing faster than society is, NSPD 51 is implemented, but perhaps too late as the two spirals of death and technological collapse continues unabated.

    Directive 51 is a fascinating near future thriller that looks deep into what would happen if modern day technology somewhat predicted where we would be in twenty years or so suddenly stopped working and reverted back to the early nineteenth century. The frantic effort to prevent the collapse of the world seems too little and too late as the Feds work at a snail's pace while the Daybreak antiterrorists move out faster than the speed of light. Although the story line adopts too easily Stalin's alleged commentary that "The death of one man is a tragedy, the death of millions is a statistic", fans will enjoy this cautionary tale that proclaims that sometimes you get what you wish for.

    Harriet Klausner

    5 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 23, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    First book of two

    This is the first book, the second is DAYBREAK ZERO. Actually, I read Daybteak first. This book is very detailed and the author does a great job with developing the main characters and setting the stage for Daybreak. It can get a little boring at times, but all of this will make sense when you read the next one (things move pretty fast, and all this info is relevant).

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 9, 2011

    Great book

    Great book, with excellent character and plot development. My first with this author, but certainly not my last.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 9, 2014

    Fascinating and scary...it could happen all to easily.  Recommen

    Fascinating and scary...it could happen all to easily.  Recommend highly.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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