Today’s team review is from Terry, she blogs here https://terrytylerbookreviews.blogspot.co.uk/
Terry has been reading The Echo Chamber by Rhett Evans
SciFi, dystopian techno-thriller involving AI and social media
What I liked:
- The author has talent; this is a most original novel that makes some interesting points in an intelligent and well-informed fashion. Basically, he can write good sentences, has a fine handle on suspense, and uses words creatively.
- It is clear that he really knows his subject: Silcon Valley, the dangers of AI and dependence on social media; how it is now so ingrained into our culture. The Echo Chamber shows a good understanding of the future that is just around the corner, some of it already happening; the manipulation of our thoughts and prejudices by the media, the lack of security concerning the data we give out so freely, and its use by AI to re-order the population. This is all stuff I love to read about, and some of which I have written about myself, so certain aspects had me engrossed.
- It is inventive; I was impressed by the world put together within the pages, and the insight.
- There are some great twists.
- It’s well professionally put together, and decently proofread.
- The author has something to say. This, I think, makes a novel more than just a story.
What I was not so sure about
- It’s very technical in parts; as I’ve said, I have an interest in the subject matter, but some of it I found rather heavy-going. I think that if you don’t have a quite good understanding of new technology, much of it might go over your head.
- The structure: it goes back and forth between ‘Before’ (the collapse of the US) and ‘After’, with other ‘Outside Time’ sections. I’m usually a fan of going back and forth between different periods, but in this case I think a linear structure would have worked so much better. I kept enjoying the ‘Before’ parts, then being dragged out of it to read about different situations, ‘After’. This hampered the flow, and made it definitely not an ‘easy read’. I wondered, at times, if it was experimental for the sake of being experimental.
- The dramatic event and its fallout, when it happens, is dealt with so quickly – instead of seeing it experienced from character point of view, we are just told about it, in a brief fashion, by a narrator.
- Most of all – there is little or no characterisation. I felt as though the author had thought up a brilliant plot, but added the characters as an afterthought. Mostly, they just seem like names on the page, as vehicles for what he wanted to write about. Only one is three-dimensional (Orion).
This is a debut novel, and, as I said, I can see that Mr Evans has talent and a great deal to say, but I think he needs to take some time to learn about writing as a reader, and understanding that characters are central to any story – because readers react to what happens in a fictional world because of how it affects the people they’re reading about, not because of the events themselves. It does, however, have a few stunning reviews, so if you’re madly into tech rather than people, you might love this book.
A Silicon Valley scandal sets off a chain of dystopian events in this topical and twist-laden thriller about virtual heists, social media, and second chances.
Mike is a Silicon Valley wunderkind who stood idly by while his company launched an addicting social media platform that made the world take a turn for the worse. He did nothing when an outrageous tech scandal pushed a polarized country to the brink of collapse. Then, after becoming trapped in a loop of his own memories, he is doomed to watch society fall apart over and over. Only by crossing paths with Charlotte Boone—once Hollywood’s up-and-coming royalty—does a kink appear in the pattern. With a daring heist in both the virtual and real worlds, Charlotte may hold the key to burning it all to the ground: the company, the lying pundits, and the echo chamber itself.