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This novella was chock-full of nerd references, reminding me a lot of Ready Player One (which I loved). There are lots of IT insider jokes that I didn’t get, but plenty of other references for fanboys and fangirls of every persuasion. For instance, early in the novella two characters are described as playing “six degrees of Stanley Tucci because Kevin Bacon was too easy.” Later, when a female character breaks out a Battlestar Galactica quote, her geeky male companions try “to conceal our intense nerd arousal.”
The pop culture references never stop coming, and, as illustrated by the second example above, neither do the references to sex and porn. And while I do not use the internet to pursue either of those topics, apparently many people do. The internet apocalypse has cut off the supply of porn, and the book dedicates many pages to describing the new ways people go about satisfying their urges in its absence. If you have a problem with reading about those subjects, this might not be the book for you.
I expected the nerd references, and pretty much knew there’d be some off-color sexual content. What I did not expect was that there would be some damned good writing in between along with actual character development. The main character, who is quite likeable and serves as the reader’s guide to the internet apocalypse, slowly reveals himself to be a complex, damaged and deluded individual. Along the way, he analyzes the influence of the internet on our way of thinking in passages such as this:
“I miss the tiny dose of fame that comes from being online, where comments are tethered to content people are already reading and statuses appear instantly on your friends’ screens. There’s a comfort that comes from knowing people are already staring at the pond when you cast your pebble.”
I listened to this as an audio book performed by Paul Michael Garcia, who gave it just the right ironic tone, very reminiscent of Wil Wheaton.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Great premise, ok execution. The internet mysteriously winks out, noir meets satire meets unreliable narrator. There are some funny parts where people struggle to interact in real life the same way they are accustomed to interacting online (there is a very amusing scene in a bar where people struggle to only present themselves from their most advantageous selfie angle), but this is not enough to carry an entire book (even a short one). There are some interesting conclusions of the overwhelming role of online life in daily life, and how it can cut you off. But it feels a bit half baked in the end.