Ever wondered about the sheer amount of data that exists about us online? Ever wonder what happens to “us” online after we pass away from our real world existence? Anil Goel has taken this as a premise and come up with a taught and gripping thriller. I have not seen many thrillers based on tech written by Indian Writers. This one is a very engaging read. Here is my experience with it
A young chap who happens to be a genius is thinking of a suicide pact with an online “soul mate” who disappears suddenly. A very remarkably intelligent teen girl is dead with no plausible explanation for it. Strangely her father who is a shady character with a dubious past denies any knowledge of what happened. The team looking into this comes to know that she was chatting with someone online when she died.
And in Australia, an intelligence officer sees burn marks on unruly sharks and gets intrigued by them.
Is there a link between all the above events? That is what the book answers and does very well at that. The year is 2016 and the events all seem so very probable. A tale that travels through India, Australia, China, Hong Kong, London and America.
Alok, a young man, all of 25, who saved a country at the age of 17 holds the key to saving humanity.
Doesn’t it sound exciting? It is! I was unable to put this down once I started reading it. Very well thought out and written. Devoid of any traditional cliche and totally refreshing.
The book starts with an internet blackout in Australia in 2004 which does very bizarre things to the ocean and the sharks living inside them. Initially a tad bit confusing and bit too fast paced, but as I read on, the story started going on demanding for my attention and eventually till I got to the main theme of the book, I was quite vocally and literally wondering ‘What’s next?’.
A girl in Australia dies talking to a girl in Hong Kong who is also dead! Phew! Wrapping my head around all that was a bit of a racy affair! But what a ride! In comes Alok to Shane’s investigation of the suspicious death of the girl, and the author starts to rapidly race the imagination of readers. The author’s idea of the future world will keep you engaged because the author is pretty vivid and there is a good bit of detail in it. A bit intriguing and a tad bit scary is the 2016 that the author shows us.
The main concept in the tale is built around the futuristic social networking site called ‘X-Net’ and an app called ‘Death-Switch’. Anil has taken apparent pains to explain everything in detail and that stands in good stead with the reader, nothing is lost in terms of detail.
The Mid-Book area as I call it is all about a guy called Mark; the founder of X-Net. Very well fleshed out narration. The influence of Zuckerberg on the character? Maybe!
At the terminal end of the whodunit is the ‘Exit Point’ and the real mystery behind the blackout and the subsequent death of Megan. A bit of a letdown here, I was expecting the narrative to go a notch up and the climax to be at a racier level, but that wasn’t to be, mediocre is my word for the climax. Up until there everything was built up very well to an almost feverish pitch and then, BAM! The end was a bit of a deflation of my expectations. Also my family members who are non-techies read it and told me that they were a bit too overwhelmed with the excess of technical detail in the sections of the book. While I did not notice it, I think that it could have been brought down a notch or two and the climax could have benefited from more mystique and racier narration.
A hint: The talks between HE and SHE are brilliant
I love this book for the radically different plot and very different approach to story telling. It is not often that you see someone write a technical thriller here and I was fully immersed in the book till I was done with it! Looking forward to Anil’s next now! The chilling message stays – “On the internet, no one knows you are dead!”