About the Author:
Thomas L. Clancy, the so called Master of techno-military thrillers, was born on the 12th of April 1947 in Baltimore, Maryland / USA. He was educated at the Loyola College in Baltimore. Then he worked as an insurance broker and finally he became a famous novelist.
His first novel was "The Hunt for Red October" (1984) and other also well-known works followed, e.g. "Red Storm Rising" (1986), "Cardinal of the Kremlin" (1988), "Dept of Honor" (1994) and "Rainbow Six" (1998). Almost everyone of his books has been a number one bestseller.
The whole story takes place on an island called Xanadu. This is the most exclusive resort in the world and it's only for rich people because it's highly expensive. The island is situated near the Bahamas and was synthetically built by one of the richest man on earth. Everything's treasured up and checked by a computer system.
So Megan O'Malley, a 16 year old "computer freak", and her father go to Xanadu because her father, who is a famous writer, has to hold a seminar there for the rich people. But there's another reason to go there: Some rich men have been robbed in virtual reality and Megan has to solve this case because she's involved in the computer system. The only difficulty is that one mustn't know, what Megan is working on because it's very secret.
On the island she gets to know Wim, the son of their neighbour, who is the third richest man in the world, and they get friends. But that's not the only person Megan gets to know: She gets friends with some people of the staff, e.g. with the cook, Milish, or two programmers, Len and Nasil.
Together with Wim she discovers the island and sometimes they cannot believe what they see because it seems to be so unbelievable and bizarre.
At last she, Wim and Mark, one of Megan's virtual friends, try to catch the robber. On their way to that they experienced really bizarre things in virtual reality, they get to know how the computer system in Xanadu really works and they "dive" into different worlds, e.g. in a coral reef or in a desert or in a play of Shakespeare while following the thief. They have to fight with him and nearly lose, but in the end they win and find out that the robber was the programmer Len, who has access to all information about the visitors.
Actually the book was written as a utopia, but if you have a closer view to it, you'll come to the end that most things described in the novel are already there. Think of the virtual reality: Everything seems to be real, although everybody knows it isn't. Nearly everything in Xanadu is unreal: the island itself, the villas, where people live, the evening events etc. The only real thing are the people. I would say it's some kind of science-fiction utopia with a very meaningful background.
Xanadu is, how I said, described as the world's most exclusive resort. Everything is pure luxury and there's only the newest stuff, above all of course the computer system. People can order their own villas, how they have to look like, where it should be situated, whether there are neighbours or not and things like that.
On the one hand Tom Clancy writes about the unreal things and that everything in future is going to be unreal. On the other hand he lets Megan say very often that she wouldn't stand to live in such a world longer than a few weeks because of the fact that's unreal and too much in order and everything's perfect and so on.
I think that's a good message. In my opinion Clancy wanted to say: "How much you get involved to virtual reality, don't forget there are other things, real things, which cannot be checked by a computer!" So I liked the novel very much. It reminds me a little of "The Matrix" -
it's nearly the same system described: You're in the virtual world, but if you get hurt there, you'll be hurt in the real world, too.
The novel is written in a very good style, very understandable and after some time you really see the things, which Tom Clancy describes. I was kind of parted after reading it because I can imagine what Megan's problems were or rather what she liked in the world of the rich.
It was a great pleasure reading it and I can recommend it, but only if you are interested in science-fiction stories with a lot of computer stuff.