Jul. 10th, 2014

piranha: red origami crane (orizuru)
near-future novel about the surveillance state and the importance of computer technology both for it, and for any possible resistance movement. it has everything going for a rousing action-adventure romp: government agents purportedly protecting us (when they are not incarcerating us), underground activists resisting the powers that be, shadowy men of power moving other characters behind the scenes, and a desperate mother trying to protect her children, who gets swept up in the battle between those forces. but i read it not as entertainment, as more of a call to action for anyone who realizes that we're already too close for comfort to this scenario becoming reality. and i am saying that not as a person eager to jump on the next conspiracy -- i scoff at most of those, and i am at times a little embarrassed how much i worry these days about whether my government is going off the rails. however, i AM truly worried more about the course the governments of the "5 eyes" have been taking than i am about terrorists or any kind of criminal, and this book speaks loud and clear about those fears.

the work is very well researched, and the author has attempted to explain concepts as user-friendly as possible without dumbing them down too much. i make my living with computers, and it was really nice to see somebody get it right, though i'm not sure whether the IT aspects are still too complicated for the lay person. on the other hand i knew very little about money and debt at the government level, and i did begin to understand what's really happening there, so i am hoping the same goes for people who don't really understand the power of computers.

the novel could have used a competent editor to make it a more cohesive, tighter whole. the writing has inconsistent narrative voice, odd jumps in time, confusion about who is who (especially towards the end). there are typos and some grammatical errors. but none of it made me want to close it in disgust at the lack of care. the worst of it is probably the oddly disjointed climax.

a bigger problem is that we really only get to know one of the characters, dancing fawn, the mother. the other characters are opaque, and i am left wondering at their motivations, especially in the case of of joshua weidemeyer (a government agent). the children are mere props, this would work better for me if they actually had personalities. and the villains are uni-dimensional. i am not squeamish, but i could have probably done without the graphic rape scene that seemed almost written for rape-porn fans (i doubt that was intended).

i enjoyed the appendices and recommended books. the author clearly cares about the subject and the state of the world, and it shows. (though no, i will never read another book by ayn rand, *shudder*. "atlas shrugged" is required reading because understanding its philosophy is important, but objectivism is not my thing).


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