Monday, 24 October 2016

What was today's freebie? Sockpuppet by Matthew Blakstad

How did I get it? A giveaway by those wonderful people at Goodreads

This review is on my profile at Goodreads.

SockpuppetSockpuppet by Matthew Blakstad
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Matthew Blakstad obviously knows his stuff. A brief glimpse at his profile shows that he has qualifications in maths and has worked in online communications. This thriller isn't just a clever page turner, it's highly plausible and increasingly believable.
Dani Farr lives in an online world. She's created an online presence called sic_girl that shows intelligence and learning. It's all fun and showing off, until sic_girl starts getting herself involved in politics and out of Dani's control....

Blakstad plays on fears already present in our society - Big Brother; privacy; hacking; identity hacks. It's also possible Blakstad understands politics and spin. This book has more than just data and tech wizardry - it's a well crafted study in politics and spin. Even more plausible than the fact that privacy is vulnerable is the notion that politicians are out of their depth when it comes to modern life and are at the mercy of advisors, reliant on their explanations. It takes little imagination to believe that politicians may believe all the hype they read in a paper and launch the next great thing, only to be undone quite quickly with their own trust and naivete.

It's not just the plausibility and excitement of this book that should make it a hit, it's the fact that it avoids all other obvious thriller cliches. Violence and sex are present, but not graphically illustrated as if everyone is a trained assassin or hot porn star lover behind their quiet exterior. Those scenes are themselves believable, real and show a vulnerability in the characters.

It's the characters that show the final breath of fresh air in a thriller - the strongest and most interesting characters are all female. Jonquil, Beth and Dani herself are complex characters, all quite different and not subject to fitting in with the regular notion of lead females in thrillers. All their vulnerabilities are clearly played out, it's refreshing to recognise lead female characters that actually resemble people one might meet in real life.

The copy I received was an uncorrected proof for review, won from Goodreads. The hardback release deserves great plaudits. And I'm not just saying that because I think Blakstad will post all my secrets if I say otherwise.

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