Today’s team review is from Terry, she blogs here https://terrytylerbookreviews.blogspot.co.uk/
Terry has been reading Killing Adam by Earik Beann
3.5 out of 5 stars
A dystopian future, in which most people spend all their time in altered reality, via a chip implanted in their brains: an ARC, on the ARCNet. The world they inhabit is whatever they want to it be, and 23 hours a day may be spent this way, with only 4 breaks of 15 minutes a day to deal with bodily necessities such as eating and washing. All existence is controlled by an artificial intelligence – or ‘singularity’ – called Adam, even the people’s perception of what occurs elsewhere in the world.
Some cannot have the chip implanted, for a variety of reasons. These people are considered ‘disabled’; Jimmy, the main character, is one of these, because of a football injury. Their being left behind in the real world keeps them separate, a minority group.
I found the idea of all this quite exciting, and dived straight in; Earik Beann’s writing was certainly good enough to keep me turning the pages. I enjoyed the first 20% of it very much, as a picture of the world was being built up. I liked the way that the author did not explain much at all, but let the picture of his created world gradually become clear, by what was happening to Jimmy, and going through his mind. However, as I read on, I felt the whole premise needed a bit more thinking through. For instance, Jimmy’s wife spends 23 hours a day in a catatonic state, as do many. Wouldn’t cities of people who spend all their days lying on sofas create massive health problems? How would the production of life’s essentials be maintained? Would society not just collapse? Or am I over-thinking?
I did like the basic ideas; perhaps it is intended to be a comment on our present lives, and the way in which people are so often plugged into online life that the ‘real’ world has become less and less relevant – especially as the ARCNet and Adam are the work of a corporation: BioCal. I liked the writing style very much, and the characterisation was solid. But there were too many times when I found myself thinking, ‘yeah, but hang on a minute…’. On the other hand, it’s science fiction. Or is it fantasy? I couldn’t make up my mind. Either way, I think how much you enjoy it will depend on how far you are willing to suspend disbelief.
The world runs on ARCs. Altered Reality Chips. Small implants behind the left ear that allow people to experience anything they could ever imagine. The network controls everything, from traffic, to food production, to law enforcement. Some proclaim it a Golden Age of humanity. Others have begun to see the cracks. Few realize that behind it all, living within every brain and able to control all aspects of society, there exists a being with an agenda all his own: the singularity called Adam, who believes he is God.
Jimmy Mahoney’s brain can’t accept an ARC. Not since his football injury from the days when the league was still offline. “ARC-incompatible” is what the doctors told him. Worse than being blind and deaf, he is a man struggling to cling to what’s left of a society that he is no longer a part of. His wife spends twenty-three hours a day online, only coming off when her chip forcibly disconnects her so she can eat. Others are worse. Many have died, unwilling or unable to log off to take care of even their most basic needs.
After being unwittingly recruited by a rogue singularity to play a role in a war that he doesn’t understand, Jimmy learns the truth about Adam and is thrown into a life-and-death struggle against the most powerful mathematical mind the world has ever known. But what can one man do against a being that exists everywhere and holds limitless power? How can one man, unable to even get online, find a way to save his wife, and the entire human race, from destruction?