Your reaction to this book will largely depend on how you like your training to be served up. If you prefer a "just the facts and examples" approach, then there are things that you will not like. Three short chapters, 10, 23 and 30, present recipes for lamb chops, guacamole, and flapjacks respectively. At the start of the chapters, there is a brief segment called "Do Or Die", which contains a list of "things to do." Presented largely as a joke, for example the list at the start of chapter 16 is:
*) Clean my room.
*) Take out the trash.
*) Double RAM in server.
*) Take over the world by ruling a race of mindless robots that I control through my Tivo.
they really did very little for me. My philosophy is that I purchase a book for the content and it would be better if the extraneous material were left out so the book would be smaller, cheaper and a few trees could be saved.
This is also a part of my next criticism, in that while the book covers J2SE 5.0, since it is for beginners, very little of the material new to 5.0 is covered. Enumerated lists are covered to completion and generics are used in a few examples. However, since generics are to be thoroughly examined in a sequel, they are not really explained. Since I am familiar with templates in C++, I found them easy to follow, but there is no question that the beginner will be confused. Java is now a huge language, so why not take every opportunity to explain more about the language rather than give us non-directional padding.
The author occasionally goes elsewhere in the material. For example, on page 201, immediately after the section header, "Exceptions and Inheritance", there is the paragraph:
"Look. Let's be honest. I don't like this anymore than you. I just want to go go go. Maybe get a truck and drive. Out on the open road. I look out at the pool and it looks fantastic. I know that it's ice cold. I know it is a burning freeze of water. But it looks so serene and inviting. Maybe I could like being a giant block of ice. Drop in and freeze and then bob up and down forever, like a cat dangling its tail on a fence, lazy, slow, back and forth. This clock wouldn't tick anymore. In a meaningful way, for me, anyway."
Sections like this just bored the yawns out of me.
Independent of the excess, the author does a reasonable job of explaining the basics of Java. The book can be used to begin your instruction in the language, although I would not recommend it. Since, there are so many other books out there that do the same thing, there really is nothing in the area of instruction to make this one stand out.