Sunday, April 27, 2014

Academic with a hint of suspense

The Fear Index
By Robert Harris

Continuing with my semester-long tryst with Robert Harris, I stumbled upon The Fear Index, one of his lesser-known works. Merging the realms of the financial markets with science fiction, the book is centered around brilliant mathematician Alexander Hoffman and the one day of his life leading up to the great global stock market crash. Harris, of course, is a master at filling a whole book with events from a short span of time - no more than a few days - but in The Fear Index, he seems to have stretched it a little too much.

For one, this book is too academic. Now, I'm an engineer and I know my ABCs of financial markets - I knew what the VIX was before I read this book, for example - but this was just too much jargon for me. A good number of pages is spent to describing algorithms and indices that make no sense in a novel. However unavoidable it may have been, it did not have a favorable effect.

However, the suspense, which is something Harris excels at creating, was not as strong as in his other works. In some parts, it was downright boring and quite a chore to read. The ending might have been good, but that does not excuse the poor intermediate parts.

Not a book that left me pleased, but that will not stop me from finishing what I started with Harris' books. I still have Archangel, Imperium and Conspirata to go!

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