Book Review: Counting From Zero (3.5 stars)

Counting From Zero, Alan B. Johnston

Counting From Zero fits the paradigm of the modern thriller and brings the fear right up-to-date with the threat of a global cyber attack.

Mick O’Malley, after spotting and fixing some ‘zero day’ attacks on the internet takes it upon himself to try to discover more. With a little help from his friends, a bit of a love interest and some running from the bad guys this story follows his journey to find out who is behind the attacks, how they are achieving them and how to eliminate the threat.

Mick is an internet security consultant who is particularly paranoid about his security and has a tendency to become slightly repetitive in this area. He is a typical computer ‘geek’ (bad clothes and all) and he is also a bit of a techno snob and elitist. Mick is not a hard guy to like, but as he is not a typical protagonist it takes a bit more work on the part of the reader to see him as the hero.

This novel is both educational and entertaining and is very obviously written by an expert in the field of internet security. The structure is very much like ‘Sophie’s World‘ (Jostein Gaarder)in the manner that it stops to educate the reader and then continues on with the tale.

Through reading this book I have learnt a lot more about the internet and internet security, but possibly to the detriment of the story and characters. If anything this book is too detailed in its descriptions of ‘botnets’ etc. and this leaves little space to build up the pace and the tension in the story.

I think that there is a lot of potential here and that a second book could be a lot more punchy and pacey.

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