by Marc Elsberg
They know everything you do – The gripping bestselling global thriller for fans of Dave Eggers’ THE CIRCLE and Channel Four’s BLACK MIRROR. Are we being controlled through our social media posts? Who is reading them and what are they doing with the information?
How much of ourselves are we putting online? When a teenager is shot dead after chasing a criminal in the street, investigating journalist Cynthia Bonsant is led to the popular social media platform Freemee, a competitor to Facebook whose lifestyle app claims to give you everything you need to succeed in life- confidence, knowledge, money . . .
But there is someone who warns against its evils- ZERO, the world’s most-wanted activist, known for his viral videos campaigning against the loss of privacy in the digital age, growing data theft at government level and the rising number of teenage suicides.
As Cynthia gets closer to unravelling the evil mastermind behind the Freemee site, she herself becomes a target, and runs for her life into the sewers. But in this world of surveillance cameras, data glasses and intelligent smart phones there is nowhere to hide . . .
I was given an e-ARC of the book from the publishers at NetGalley in return of an honest review.
When I requested this book from NetGalley, I wasn’t really sure how it was going to be. I mean, of course, the basics of the plot were there, sort of. I wasn’t aware that this book was already published in German and this was to be a translated edition but that does not really affect my review, I think.
In an age where almost all of our interactions with people or sometimes even businesses with people happen online, this book is sure to connect with people and to a certain degree, it does. The convenience of technology and social media and the integration or rather ingratiation of it in our lives has always been a topic of mixed opinions. In Zero, we are given a darker and more advanced side of the technology we so readily depend on in our daily lives.
The story starts with a bang, that’s for sure. We see a news corporation and are introduced to many characters amongst which Cynthia is shown as our main character. The introduction to Zero is also pretty well done, if I am being honest. There’s that creepy vibe while we are reading that scene, really well done. In this book, the world is almost the same as we live in with just a bit more invasive technology.
In this world, we are told, the confidential information that many companies sometimes steal from us are actually sold willingly from the people themselves for a small profit. The information is then used to promote products and lifestyles according to the information and while that is very convenient and seems fabulous, there are as usual darker sides to the exchange. People forget to be themselves, rather they let themselves be directed by the companies/ firms that they sold information to.
Zero, the movement very much like Anonymous, has been making small waves in the world by then but it makes its presence known in a grand gesture when they control drones to follow the President of the United States and his family. There was no violence but it was not exactly a friendly encounter either. It was a statement from Zero, telling the world that they did have the power to move even further than they seemed capable of.
After this incident, Cynthia is given a crash course in the current technology and it is while she is becoming enlightened that she comes across something that could prove to be fatal for her. There comes a point when her life is in danger and she needs help, to trust someone but who can she trust in a world where people would willingly give up information in return for a little money?
This book scared me a little, I admit it because this does not seem very futuristic, in fact, there are already almost every technology out there like the ones mentioned in the book and there’s also a chance that an app like FreeMee could become part of our reality.
As far as the plot is concerned, it moves at an even pace and there’s so much going on that sometimes it was hard to keep track of it? However, once you manage that you would enjoy the book or be scared by it, depends on the person really. For me, it scared me a bit.
I only gave it three stars because there wasn’t much character development or even a deeper connection that I could find. It’s very important that I connect to the characters in a book no matter how awesome the plot is and that’s where it sort of failed. So, yeah, overall though this book is a bit scary and not really science fiction as much as I wish it was. I totally recommend to those who are interested in science fiction or thriller or mystery.
It’s coming out on July 12th and it will be available almost everywhere.