Once upon a time there were many newspapers, magazines, radio stations, and even local television stations that included book reviews as part of their standard content. Today, a self-published author has access to dramatically fewer traditional reviewers to pitch, and readers have fewer trusted sources to turn to when they look for recommendations. Here are all of the reviews my book has attracted to date (not just the good ones), sorted by type so that you can form your own conclusions regarding their credibility.
I. Third Party Reviews:
The following reviews resulted from review copies I sent to cybersecurity experts with whom I had no prior relationship. Where the review was posted at the reviewers blog, excerpts appear below with links to the full entry:
Book Review: The Alexandria Project by Andrew Updegrove
By Ben Tomhave on April 10, 2012 – I had the recent good fortune of having Andy Updegrove’s The Alexandria Project: A Tale of Treachery and Technology suggested to me as a book that I might enjoy. It’s a techno-thriller set in modern times, complete with a solid infosec storyline that doesn’t even mention APT once.
The story starts out set in Washington, DC, where we follow perennial slacker security uber-genius Frank Adversego, currently stumbling through a job at the Library of Congress (LoC), thanks in large part to his former mentor tossing him a lifeline. All of a sudden, things start going very bad, first at the LoC, and then elsewhere, and all fingers point toward Frank. Spin in some not-so-friend inter-department uncooperation between the Bureau and the Company, a little bit of international intrigue, and the threat of nuclear war, and you have a fun techno-thriller. Full Review
Interesting security reading
by Dwayne Melancon on May 3, 2012 – This is a very engaging story about a series of cyber-attacks against government computing systems, which grows into a lot more than that. You’ll follow the cyber-detective work of Frank Adversego, who gets caught in the middle of everything and has to dodge the FBI, CIA and other 3-letter agencies to figure out who’s perpetrating the attacks and why.
The book is a fun read, and contains some good technology references in it without making you want to roll your eyes. I got a big kick out of some of the character names, too – keep your eyes peeled for some hidden humor in this regard.
If you’re looking for a good bit of suspense that has decent infosec underpinnings, you’ll enjoy this book. Full Review
Quick Book Review – The Alexandria Project, by Andrew Updegrove
By Alec Waters – April 19, 2012 – Without wishing to spill too many beans, it’s a fun read featuring mystery attackers with mystery motives, three-letter-agencies butting heads whilst manipulating people down their chosen path, military coups and crazy politicians with their finger on the Big Red Button.
The plot is spookily close to reality, especially in the Big Red Button department – I was reading the story on the actual dates featured in the book, at which time events were playing out on the world stage much as they were in my Kindle (plot spoiler, courtesy of BBC News, here). Coincidence? Or does Mr Updegrove have a crystal ball? Full Review
Book Review: The Alexandria Project
Dave Piscitello – May 21, 2012 – The Alexandria Project: A Tale of Terror and Technology by Andrew Updegrove is actually a tale of technology and treachery…. Updegrove manages dialog, develops characters and their relationships pretty well in this first novel, which is good, because there are a lot of characters and multiple plot threads in motion. He incorporates both lampoonery and serious suspense in The Alexandria Project. I enjoyed the suspense part more because lampooning TLAs is so common in fiction, real life, and social networking (which is both fiction and real life).
5.0 out of 5 stars Really entertaining read, July 16, 2012 [Amazon review]
By David Shackleford – As a professional information security wonk, I of course have a generally cynical eye towards books that delve into cyber terror and such. I’m incredibly pleased to say that this book doesn’t devolve into ridiculous plot lines that aren’t at all realistic – in fact, this was a fun book with likable characters and a much more solid approach to a “hacking story”. While geared a bit towards the geeks like me, I think any fans of the thriller genre will enjoy this one, and I’m happy to recommend it.
5.0 out of 5 stars The Alexandria Project, July 15, 2012 [Amazon Review]
By Chris Schweigert – The Alexandria Project was a great book. This is one of the only books that I read with realistic technical aspects in the plot. This is one of the few books that I found was hard to put down. An excellent read for the computer security savvy reader. Thank you Andrew!
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Interesting, April 4, 2012 [Amazon Review]
By Wendy Trinckes – This book was very interesting and entertaining. I’m in the security field and know first hand how insecure most organizations are. This book tells a story of a nefarious group taking advantage of these security oversights and although it is fictional, I could definitely see a scenario described in this story coming true.
Book Review – The Alexandria Project by Andy Updegrove
Posted by andyitguy – May 31, 2012 – A while back Andy Updegrove approached me and asked if I would take a look at his book “The Alexandria Project”. I told him that I would love to but that it would take me a while to read it due to my schedule of late. Well, I finally finished it over the weekend and even though he said that writing anything about it on the blog was optional I wanted to since I did enjoy the book….All in all it is a good read that’s recommend to anyone who likes a good techno thriller. Full Review
II Amazon Reviews by People I don’t Know
The following reviews were unsolicited, and posted at Amazon by people I don’t know
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Way To Spend A Dark And Stormy Weekend, April 23, 2012
By Tom Weeds – This eBook would be a bargain at three times the price. Andy Updegrove reminds me of Michael Crichton an author who was able to both entertain and educate at the same time.
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and unpredictable plot line, March 23, 2012
By jhansonxi – An entertaining read. It helps to have a little understanding of computer and network technology but you can enjoy the book without it. Throughout the story there are seemingly minor characters introduced – almost too many – that become very significant towards the end. It pokes fun at venture capitalists, politicians, and the protagonist while building up to a good climax, followed by a full-closure wrap-up of the various sub-plots at the end. The first printing of the paperback had some editing problems but most weren’t too distracting. I reported them to the author and hopefully they’ll be fixed in the near future.
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic!, May 6, 2012
By Michael Blank – The Alexandria Project is a gripping novel of intrigue and suspense. The characters may be fictional, but we all know their real-life equivalents. The storyline may be fiction – but maybe not. It is very timely and raises several of THE ISSUES of the 21st Century. It is hard to believe that this is Updegrove’s first novel. I sincerely hope that the plots are of Updegrove’s incredible imagination and not based on real subplots that have been/are going on today. I’m sending gift copies to all of my friends as their birthday present. Can’t wait to see who picks up the movie rights.
5.0 out of 5 stars Be blown away by the possibility raised by this book April 29, 2012
By WK – Positions of power are often obtained through an ability to touch passions. That’s an important ingredient of leadership, but it is too infrequently accompanied by an ability to think, to understand complexity.
The vulnerabilities of information systems are often way beyond the comprehension of your standard decision maker. And those vulnerabilities, when exploited by psychopaths who do think, can convey a level of power that normal leaders simply cannot imagine.
The Alexandria Project takes you through the ultimate worst case scenario, illustrating how an information system vulnerability enables the emergence of a megalomaniac-in-chief with a minimum of fuss. It’s all so much more efficient and effective than the tedious demagoguery, purges and drawn-out battles that the Stalins, Hitlers, and other would-be rulers of the world had to endure.
If only there were a way to get people in power to read The Alexandria Project! While we contemplate how to accomplish that, read this gripping novel yourself, and be blown away by the dreadful yet quite realistic possibility that it raises.
5.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining quick read, July 9, 2012
By ViennaJerry – Very well written , fast paced, most interesting plot with frequent surprises. I laughed out loud at the venture capitalist pieces! Highly recommend the book!
5.0 out of 5 stars Remarkably accurate while consistently spellbinding, April 2, 2012
By John – I ran across a reference to this book at a blog unrelated to the author, and after reading one chapter, bought the book. While my job’s security aspects will never be as exciting as the protagonist’s, the type of threats are very real, although usually targeted to old unpatched systems sitting in the corner.
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome., December 27, 2012
By Daniel Reurich – This is an awesome book. Very gripping and a fantastic plot, well written and modern. It paints a picture of the dangers our modern world faces from mis-used technology and the bufoons that control it.
4.0 out of 5 stars Fun read, January 2, 2013
By Michael Bradley -The last couple of years have produced amazing works based on real events and epic hackers and heroes. This is not one of them. Sometimes you just want a funny story; the Alexandria Project is just a funny story that leaves you rooting for our hero and thinking of Dad. If you liked the whiz kids comics but cannot define the term, rootkit, and you don’t care too, this book is for you.
III. Amazon and Google Reviews by People I Know
The following reviews were written by friends, colleagues and acquaintances. Some were solicited and others not.
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent IT fiction novel, January 10, 2012
Carlo Piana – I have the privilege of knowing the author as a fine lawyer, so discovering him as a novelist was kinda surprising. I am hypercritical to science and IT fiction, because they are invariably lame if they are not written by very good writers after in-depth research. This novel is a very welcome exception: written by a non-professional, yet it is convincing, captivating and very fun. The plot flows flawless, with good pace, and the action is very plausible–only in a couple of turns the story begs for some indulgence towards the requirements of the fiction, but without stretching it too far. The work is in my opinion a good reading for everybody who has a taste for the Information Technology world, especially those with some historical perspective (“geeks”), but it is overall enjoyable by the general public. I look forward to the next one.
5.0 out of 5 stars Thriller or Horror? May 31, 2012
By Tricia – What an amazing story and an eye-opener! I don’t know whether it should be categorized as a thriller or a horror story. The scary thing is that this concept seems entirely plausible. I’m not into technical stuff and thought the subject of cybersecurity a little daunting but the book is well written and I was able to follow the concepts easily. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I highly recommend it.
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent cyber-thriller!, July 1, 2012
By Stephen Walli – Updegrove’s books is a fun cyber-thriller. It’s very accurate with respect to the technology and the politics (foreign and domestic). It had an easy fast pace to pull you along through the story. The business discussions and ideas with respect to the venture capitalists are hysterically funny. (I especially loved and was simultaneously at the idea of selling derivatives to venture capital fund investors.) Despite the technology base, the story is clear and there were lots of small educational moments along the way without dragging the story down. I look forward to the next book from the author.
5.0 out of 5 stars Great thriller, February 29, 2012
By Andy – In the spirit of Vincent Flynn and Tom Clancy, this cyber-security thriller is a great read. Compelling characters, great detail and an an unsettlingly plausible scenario add up to a real page-turner.
5.0 out of 5 stars Delightfully unpredictable!, February 23, 2012
By Cathyann Swindlehurst – I’m somewhat jaded by thrillers where the plot twists are obvious long before they actually happen. No fear of that with this book! Updegrove has managed what many attempt but few can execute: a plot that is both credible and surprising. As with the best genre books, I learned quite a bit about the way technology works by following Frank’s adventure, but without the heavy preaching that some authors find necessary. The story moves so nimbly that it’s final twists are startling; that said, the vulnerabilities in our system that Updegrove exposes are all the more upsetting because the source is so credible. A great read – I can’t wait for the next one!
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read for the beach or the bomb shelter, June 29, 2012
By presto14 – The sign of a good thriller; each step taken is a logical outcome of the event preceeding, until you realize you are way down the rabbit hole and nothing is what it had first appeared. The author has the back-biting of Washington politics down pat, and the technics ring true. These are believable characters (including unfortunately, the villians), who take the reader to just this side of global calamity. I look forward to the next techno-political thriller from this author.
5.0 out of 5 stars Received Friday, Finished Sunday, June 17, 2012
By Marc Sandy Block – The ENG in my degree is for ENGineering and not ENGlish. But while “The Alexandria Project” appealed to my technical side, it should be appreciated by the literary as well, with clever chapter titles and a nice use of language and pace. You get to know Frank Adversego with all his brilliance and flaws, and are pulled into his world of family, work, and intrigue. On the one hand, I was entertained as Frank looks for answers and solutions. On the other hand, as someone who spent years in the Washington Area (not far from the NSA), I was sobered by the risks threatened in the fiction. I’m looking forward to Frank’s next apparent excursion in the world of voting machines.
5.0 out of 5 stars The Alexandria Project: could it go viral?, June 5, 2012
By Tim Simcoe – Andrew Updegrove’s tale of computer hacking, geo-politics and bureaucratic back-stabbing made for an entertaining (yet educational) start to my Summer fiction binge. The eBook was an unbelievable bargain, and after reading it, I’m betting that The Alexandria Project goes viral.
5.0 out of 5 stars X-Files meets William Gibson, May 16, 2012
By Seth Hexx – I should begin by stating that I rarely read the work of writers who are still alive (I also don’t listen to music past the early 90s). That being said, I was most impressed by Andy Updegrove’s The Alexandria Project. Not was it well written without being verbose or self-conscious in prose style, but there are also little bits that are very clever and funny. Now, normally don’t read thrillers of the Grisham or Baldacci type (I find them banal and pedestrian, and I’m not French), but this book is an intelligent read. The plot is well structured, there are twists and turns, and the story unfolds itself in front of you. As noted in my review title, I would classify this as X-Files meet William Gibson: you have the conspiratorial and shadowy men in government positions as well as the cybernetic setting, a la Gibson, but without leaving you nauseaus as you would in reading Gibson because he moves the plot along into very abstract and complex levels too fast. Updegrove is careful to make sure the reader follows through expository conversations, and the ideas aren’t ‘dumbed down’. Another thought that occurs to me is that if Hitchcock were still alive he’d probably snatch up the movie rights damn fast. The Hitchcockian elements can be seen in the basic plot of an ordinary man who begins to uncover a complex plot that threatens the nation. Also, as in Hitchcock films like Vertigo or North By Northwest, the hero’s character flaws become assets. I would highly recommend this book to almost anyone.
5.0 out of 5 stars Fact or Fiction?, July 26, 2012
By Ruth Xovox – Other than extremely intelligent and well rounded, I was skeptical about an East Coast Lawyer writing a thriller based upon Information Security and start ups in the Valley. The characters and events were eerily reminiscent of both my own experiences and of most people I have come across in the field. The writing was first class and I was particularly impressed at Andy’s ability to explain technical facts in a manner that even my mother (probably) could understand. My only disappointment is that it did not contain any of America’s most frequently used words but I am looking forward to reading them in the sequel. Don’t forget DefCon this week Andy to pick up ideas for your next thriller! Congrats!
5.0 out of 5 stars Great plot, great characters, great read!, July 9, 2012
By Frank – First, I should probably disclose that I know the author as a very capable lawyer, and had the pleasure to work with him for quite some time in the past years. I was actually quite surprised to find out that he is also a very capable author. I am not a native english speaker, but have an engineering/technology background.
I greatly enjoyed reading “The Alexandria Project”, and can wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone who has at least some interest in technology thrillers. The book is very entertaining, full of witty ideas, has a great plot and will keep you hooked until the end. Hope to see more from this author in the future!
4.0 out of 5 stars Suspenseful, fast-moving, and technically correct, June 17, 2012
By Carla J. Schroder – I’m the person you don’t want to watch a movie or TV show with, because I notice– and comment– on illogical plot holes and technical goofs. Same goes for books, if the author mucks up important details then by gosh I roll my eyes and sometimes write snarky Amazon reviews.
“The Alexandria Project” does not get snarks from me, but praise. It pulled me in from the opening pages as Frank, the former cybersecurity golden boy and self-admitted genius, is trying to pull his life together. Frank gets sucked into a super-elite cybercrime mystery with twists and turns, and villainy that reaches to the very top. It’s all very plausible, especially the way it shows how tyranny can bloodlessly sneak up on us. It’s a cracking good suspense/thriller/mystery/horror story. It illustrates one of my favorite dictums: computers give nuclear powers to the good and the bad impartially.
The only nits I can find to pick are occasional style glitches and clunks, and I wish Amazon allowed half-stars because I want to give this 4.5 stars.
I forgot to mention the numerous cultural references and puns. Like “You may fire when ready, Grid-Lee.” Probably only old geezers will get them
5.0 out of 5 stars Scarily plausible – and a gripping story!, May 8, 2012
By Andrew Oliver – I first read the book when it was published in weekly installments . By buying the book I was able to skip the frustration of having to wait a week for the next chapter! As with all good works of fiction there is enough fact to make the story very plausible – in fact it was scarily so! Apart from enjoying the humor, the main thing for me was the plot and the action. Both kept me turning the page for more and finally kept me up way past my bedtime to finish it – even though I had already read it once!
The author not only demonstrates an excellent knowledge of matters technical but also delivers a story that keeps the reader on the edge of her seat. I hope Marla will collaborate with her Dad again in future books: they make a great partnership!
5.0 out of 5 stars Strong characters and compelling plot, February 21, 2012
By Doug Redding – I read a lot of novels and this is a very good one. The characters are believable and engaging and the plot is compelling with several clever twists along the way. Updegrove also displays strong knowledge of the numerous technologies supporting the story which adds much to its credibility. Highly recommended.
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent and accessible techno-thriller, February 20, 2012
By rodosborne – The Alexandria Project is an extremely enjoyable read and I recommend it highly. The complaint I have with most novels in which “technology” plays a pivotal role – and this is particularly true in the mystery/thriller genre – is that the authors can’t seem to help showing off their very specific knowledge in a way that crowds out the story. That’s not the case with Updegrove and The Alexandria Project – he clearly knows the subject matter inside and out, but is too self-assured and smooth a writer to hide behind that insider’s knowledge. Without condescending or preaching, he actually presents some frightening truths built into the technology we all enjoy and rely upon in a way that is wonderfully accessible to the non-technical reader. His protagonist, Frank, is an original, amusing creation who is very well suited to carrying this sort of story. The stakes are high throughout, but the story is also lighthearted in many places and features a number of satisfying twists and turns leading to its rollicking conclusion. Finding a quality piece of work like this is what makes reading such a pleasure, and I look forward to Updegrove’s next book with great anticipation.
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read, February 19, 2012
By Bart – This is a very well written, highly engaging story. The scary thing about it is that the entire plot is far too possible to come to life. I won’t give away any spoilers but rather will just give it a strong thumbs up and encourage those who like thrillers to pick it up.
5.0 out of 5 stars A Witty Thriller, September 5, 2012
By Doulas M. Norton – The Alexandria Project was my last summer read, consumed with sand and sun over Labor Day weekend, and it was one of my favorites, hooking me with interesting characters, technology insights, and plot twists. Updegrove has crafted a light-hearted, fictional look at serious issues and kept it moving briskly. When I finished I had not only grinned at his caricatures of feckless bureaucrats, egomaniacal politicians, and greedy venture capitalists, but had been deftly reminded that we really do need to get a handle on the security of our oh-so-critical IT systems, and that nukes in the hands of delusional dictators are a looming catastrophe, visible but ignored. So, hats off to the author for informing without preaching or fear-mongering. The hero is refreshingly human (well, pretty screwed up, actually), all of the characters are well drawn, and several end up delightfully skewered on Updegrove’s incisive descriptions and satirical wit. And I guarantee you won’t figure out the final plot twist until he wants you to!
I really enjoyed this book–order one now, don’t wait for summer!
5.0 out of 5 stars fun/exciting/accurate high-tech adventure, September 5, 2012
By bobinmass – I know the author as a fine high-tech attorney, but was surprised what a good fiction-author he is. This story keeps you reading, reminds or educates you about risks in cyberspace and problems with competing government agencies and international confrontations, and has many amusing moments, particularly relating to startups and VCs. Just when I thought the satirical character names and organization behaviors might detract from the mystery, the adventure raced ahead. I look forward to the next book, as I don’t have the patience to read the serialization!
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome and terifying, June 16, 2012
By al74 “AL74″ – Andrew Updegrove’s novel is a well written thriller which kept me sleepless at nights for two reasons. First, I couldn’t stop reading. Second, it resulted in a terrifying understanding of how vulnerable we are. This is a must read for everybody.
Scott K. Peterson – June 2, 2012 – I just finished reading that most enjoyable romp that is Andy Updegrove’s cyber-security thriller The Alexandria Project: A Tale of Treachery and Technology. I read most of it over the long Memorial Day weekend, which for many is the beginning of summer – the season of outdoor grilling – a good match for my chosen weekend reading, as some of Andy’s Washington-based characters are nicely grilled (metaphorically speaking).