The year is 2089, and technologists have developed a system for remotely tapping into the optic and auditory nerves of all humans. Everything that people see and hear is detected and this is published publicly online; nothing can be secret. It is the ultimate surveillance society.
Jack Smith blows up the old GCHQ building in Cheltenham, destroying the surveillance computers. He goes on the run across post-apocalyptic Gloucestershire, with old friend Vicky Truva. The two are chased by a ragtag posse, including Vicky’s brothers, intent on bringing the apparent revolutionaries to justice. However, the fugitives have the advantage that the information and surveillance network is down…
Review: (Video review)
This is an interesting Sci-Fi book, set in 2089 where people are being are tagged by armulets and watched by sifters to judge their every move. Jack is fed up with the lack of privacy and does something about it. He blows up the building called the Doughnut, which keeps all the surveillance, and now he will have to be on the run. This book is perfect for those who like the debate over the use of technology vs privacy and like reading about it with detailed depiction of the environment around the protagonist. The characters are well presented and you are left not knowing if you believe Jack’s action was for the greater good or an act of terrorism. The love interest in this story is one of a puppy-love romance from two childhood friends, which grows into a deeper sense of loyalty and infatuation, despite Vicky’s expectation to carry on her family’s name by caring for their family farm. As Jack and Vicky flee across the Kangaroo of Highnam and Cheltenham to the Islands, Major Frank Halthrop from the Bristol Brigade militia with his posse Darren, Jane and Terry as well as Vicky’s twin brothers Truvan and Bailey, are on their heel and they have to make do with what they’ve got to survive. It was an interesting read also because it depicts a view on how we could find our world in 2089, which isn’t that far away, but by the rate the technology is emerging, who will know how our society will be monitored then?
Message & Moral
The moral message of how much control the government should have over each individual has been wildly debated, as it needs to weigh out the control they must keep for the nation’s safety against terrorist threats. But where does one draw the line? Algorithms that pick up key words in emails, which could be from terrorists, CCTV cameras in the street or even on armulets with tags that see your every move, hear your every word and can work out the probability of your infidelity before you have even done it? Jack has decided that he believes that the government controls too much and is determined to bring it down.
Creatures & Environment
This book makes a good performance of describing its dystopian society and the environment in 2089 England, and Miles has even made a map of the trail that Jack hiked in his escape. This, for everyone who knows me, gets extra points. I love maps. There were two different types of settings described in the story, the one of the city full of technology, and the English countryside filled with greenery.
Captivation & Continuity
The story has a good plot and it is always makes Jack’s agenda clear. The beginning takes its time to describe the setting of the dystopian government and how the technology could be interpreted as being intrusive. It is only after the later part of the story that the action takes form and the pressure of Jack’s escape becomes heated.
Language & Flow
The language has a few of its own invented words, such as Armulet, but is otherwise descriptive by using common used words, which are easy to follow. There is no foul language, sexual content or gory violence.
T.M. Caruana’s Spell Wand Award