A fantastic near-future amusement park is the setting for this techno-thriller by Child (coauthor with Douglas Preston of the Preston/Child bestsellers) in his first solo outing. Utopia, a Nevada amusement park extraordinaire, features several elaborate holographic theme worlds (like Camelot and Gaslight, which meticulously recreates Victorian England), all run by an ultrasophisticated computer system and serviced by robots. When a series of fluke accidents culminates in the near death of a boy on a Gaslight roller coaster, the Utopia brain trust calls in the original computer engineer, Dr. Andrew Warne. Warne arrives with his bristly 14-year-old daughter, Georgia, and sets to work solving the Gaslight problem, though he can't believe that the system is willfully malfunctioning, as the evidence seems to indicate. To complicate matters, Utopia's manager, Sarah Boatwright, is Warne's ex-girlfriend, and an obvious mutual attraction exists between Warne and Utopia systems controller Teresa Bonifacio. Just as Warne gets to work, violent attacks erupt all over the park, masterminded by an impassive psychopath known as John Doe and carried out by his cadre of henchmen, including a computer genius and a crack marksman. For three hours, Doe holds the park hostage, and Warne, Boatwright and Bonifacio race against the clock to foil his plans. Child creates a convincingly self-contained world, populated by amusing creations like a cyber-dog called Wingnut and clever descriptions of futuristic amusement park rides. Sluggish prose and an overload of technical detail slow the pace, but Child proves he is capable of fireworks (literally) at the rousing conclusion. (Dec.)
The most technologically advanced amusement park in the world is Utopia. Located in an isolated corner of the barren Nevada desert, it consists of four separate theme worlds: Camelot, where guests encounter life in the Middle Ages; The Boardwalk, which is a flashback to the United States of the early 1900s; Gaslight, where visitors encounter the world of Victorian England; and Callisto, where the setting is the future in space. Each world is accurate, yet safe, thanks to Andrew Warne's amazing computer wizardry. Andrew returns to Utopia accompanied by his teenage daughter, Georgia, to work on a fifth world, but the real reason for his presence is that computers have been malfunctioning, rides have failed, and a fatality has even occurred. When Andrew attempts to diagnose and fix the system, he finds the problems are being caused by a group of high-tech criminals determined to hold the park hostage for the lives of every single person enjoying Utopia. Teens will be interested by the inside story of how huge amusement parks are run, they will be carried along by Child's roller-coaster writing, and they will especially enjoy the character of successful computer nerd Andrew. Give this book to teens who enjoyed other tales of theme parks gone hugely wrong, such as Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton (Knopf, 1990/VOYA June 1991), or to those who may have discovered Westworld, Crichton's 1973 film about an amusement park where the computers take over. Teens are guaranteed to finish the book, wishing that the amusement park Utopia actually existed. VOYA Codes: 4Q 4P S A/YA (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12; Adultand Young Adult). 2002, Doubleday, 385p,
Child departs from Douglas Preston, his coconspirator on books like Relic, to craft this creepy tale of trouble at a techno theme park. Criminals take over the computer system and threaten bloody havoc if their demands aren't met. Can computer genius Dr. Andrew Warne save the day?
Adult/High School-Utopia, the largest, most technologically advanced theme park in the world, draws in revenue to match its size. When problems begin to show up with the Metanet, the system controlling the robotics in the park, no one suspects anything but a computing error. When Dr. Andrew Warne, designer of the Metanet and the robotics, comes to fix the trouble, bringing his teenage daughter with him, the two are immediately caught up in terrorist plots to frighten both staff and visitors. Child takes the story chronologically through one day's events, increasing the tension as time ticks by. Minutes are noted, emphasizing the amount of action occurring in a small segment of time, and events that may be happening simultaneously in another part of the park are also pointed out. In this not-too-remote future, the technology ranges from realistic, full-sized holograms to advanced communications systems. Dr. Warne carries most of the character development, but Angus Poole almost steals the lead. He is visiting the park when he becomes involved in rescuing others after a terrorist event. His background in both military and security training provides him with the ability to perform the physical action required. Together, Warne and Poole make an unbeatable team, but admirable secondary characters, including a robot, add to this fast-paced adventure.-Pam Johnson, Fairfax County Public Library, VA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
A book that was much better when it had dinosaurs in it. This time around, the deadly park in question is the eponymous Utopia, a sort of mixture of Westworld and Disneyland rising out of the desert outside of Las Vegas. Conceived by Child (coauthor, with Douglas Preston: Thunderhead, 1999, etc.), built by Eric Nightingale, a Walt Disney-like children's entertainment impresario, the park is a technological wonder set into the desert canyons that includes four different themed worlds: Gaslight (old London), Callisto (space age future), Camelot (medieval times) and Boardwalk (a Coney Island simulacra). Not to mention the casinos that, together with the $75 entry fee, the gift shops and restaurants, take in a total of about $100 million a week. So no reader should be surprised that just as Dr. Andrew Warne, the computer genius who designed much of Utopia's hyperautomated mesh of computers and robots, arrives in Utopia, a band of criminals is putting their big heist into play. They've got inside people, a deadly sniper on the outside, a brilliant hacker, and a psychopathic leader named John Doe. Having thoroughly hacked Utopia's systems, Doe's people are able to kill at whim among Utopia's 65,000 visitors, especially by causing the park's rides to suddenly malfunction, if park personnel don't give in to their demands. It's up to a fast-thinking Warne, a plucky tech sidekick named Terri, and a right-place-at-the-right-time guest by the name of Poole who's on Warne's side and just happens to have a background in security. Child's descriptions of the park in all its holographic glory is so lovingly and precisely detailed that you hate to have to deal with the mostly clueless people who dashabout this deadly paradise just as they've been doing since the invention of the disaster novel. There are worse ways to kill a few hours than with Utopia, but, oh, what it could have done with a batch of hungry velociraptors.
“Child’s latest is a beautifully crafted scare-fest….Here’s hoping for a sequel.”
“A sensational piece of popular entertainment. If you are looking for intelligent fun, it doesn’t get much better than this.”
-The Washington Post 12/16/02)
"The blend of technological jargon and suspense results in a real thrill-a-minute read."
"The novel's namesakea cutting-edge, futuristic theme parkis a tour-de-force of the imagination, one of the most extraordinary settings for a thriller I've ever read."
-Douglas Preston, New York Times bestselling co-author of Relic and Rip Tide.
"In this ultra-entertaining new novel, Lincoln Child weaves fascinatingly plausible technologies and a frighteningly believable tale. It’s Brave New World meets Jurassic Park.”
-Dan Brown, bestselling author of Digital Fortress