Monday, 23 July 2012

Book Review: The Great Firewall - Michael C Boxall

Synopsis - Orson Welles with a laptop - that's how WIRED magazine describes high flying software developer Daniel Skye.  But Daniel's on the verge of bankruptcy and divorce, obsessed with the best idea he's ever had: an interactive movie/game hybrid for tablet computers that will forever change the way we see entertainment - that is, if it doesn't ruin its creator first.

He flees to Shanghai, where Pierre, an old photojournalist friend, knows people with money.  But Pierre has his own agenda, helping a clandestine group of  Chinese protesters.  On the eve of a global conference on carbon emissions, they're desperate to publicise the human cost of Shanghai's real estate explosion and expose the corrupt officials and murderous property developers who are driving it.

As Daniel searches the back alleys of Shanghai for pictures of a disappearing city, he is drawn ever deeper into a world of violence, arson, and killing.  In the end, he will have to choose.  How much is he willing to sacrifice for the best idea he'll ever have.  (Taken from Goodreads

Review - A great, fast paced and exciting read.  Great concept, very up to date and cutting edge.  The reader can identify with Daniel, although from a woman's perspective I do find that 'blind must follow my dream whatever the circumstances' tunnel vision annoying - definitely a man trait!  But, I do like his drive, passion and self belief.  Yes, I pity poor Sophie, his long suffering wife whose whole life has not been easy.  A product of a rogue father who like Daniel is just a bit selfish!  

The story is predominantly set in Shanghai, where Daniel flies to find Pierre his old friend.  However, Daniel learns that Pierre is not that good a person and dives straight in not knowing what situation he will find himself in.  This is where the storytelling really takes off.  We (the readers) are swept through the streets of Shanghai, being followed and monitored wherever the plot takes us.  

I must admit I do find some stereotyping when reading thrillers with Chinese characterisations.  Big brother nation, depicting them as bloodthirsty and at times downright evil.  Like any part of the world it has its 'Mafia' but also like the rest of the world, in reality this is probably a minority.  In this story apart from the protesters, the Chinese characters are all pretty nasty.  It is quite difficult to get away from some of these clichés.  However, this does not detract from the story which is well thought out, flows from one chapter to the next and keeps the action coming.  4*

ISBN - 13:978-1475154245
Kindle edition: ASIN: B005Y3YH7A

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