Friday, March 14, 2014

Delve into the Code Realm with "Guerrilla Internet"

What would you do if some entity hacked your internet profiles?  Laid bare your private correspondence?  Accessed your bank account?  Found your home and threatened you or your loved ones?  Would you cower in fear and continue on in your mundane existence?

Or would you do something about it?

That's where we find ourselves in Matt Sayer's novel Guerrilla Internet, as he explores the real-world attacks on privacy in the digital age.

Book Blurb:
How careful are you with what you say in a phone call? In a text message? Are you strict enough to never reveal personal information in an email, or on Facebook? Most people aren't.

Charlie, a soon-to-be unemployed software tester struggling through remission from depression and anxiety, is about to discover just how lethal a weapon information can be in the wrong hands. When one of his colleagues is murdered for the sake of stealing his company's innocuous in-development phone app, his life is upended and shaken like one of James Bond's martinis. With the aid of Mel, a technologically illiterate but worldly-wise security guard, Charlie must conquer his inhibitions and venture outside his cloistered comfort zone in order to prevent a cyberterrorist conspiracy so devastating it threatens the very future of the internet itself... 

A technological thriller set in modern times, Guerrilla Internet tackles the themes of privacy, security, and freedom of expression in the age of a constantly connected society. A tale of subterfuge and doublespeak, of plots within plots, where laws and morals clash to decide the meaning of freedom in an always-online world.

My Review:
Confession first - I know very little about what is lovingly referred to as "geek-speak" so I was lost when this book got brass-tacks technical.  Just call me Mel.  Outside of that, I really enjoyed Guerrilla Internet.

Charlie is a computer whiz kid, fresh from university in Australia and enjoying the surroundings of his first job while living on his own - for the most part.  He's struggled in the past with severe anxiety and bouts of depression, but with medication and intensive counseling he's learning how to cope in a crowded and fast-moving world.

But then Charlie's carefully constructed world comes crashing down when he shows up for work to find a co-worker murdered in cold blood, the small company's server files all stolen or destroyed, and a chilling note from his boss informing him the company is ruined and he's closing up shop.

Then Mel shows up, a tough-as-nails woman posing as a detective in the investigation.  Soon Charlie realizes Mel is not who she says and is merely a security specialist traveling the world trying to sort out what she sees as a global conspiracy.  But Mel can't put her finger on exactly what the globe-trotting thieves want with all of the stolen servers.

That's where Charlie shines.

Charlie and Mel are in a race to puzzle the pieces back together before the nefarious plot is released.  From Australia to Seattle and finally Japan, this unlikely pair must find the criminals - and save themselves along the way.

Charlie's internal struggle was very realistic.  You sensed it keenly as he fought to stay in control among the crowds, as he self-talked his way back from the edge, and worked to discover confidence in his competence. 

With Mel - I could sooooo relate to her cluelessness when faced with the gaming references and just technology in general.  Felt like me around my son and his friends - HUH?  Mel also faces her own demons through the story - a little abrupt on the turnaround from tough chick to the softer side, but very touching nonetheless.  I especially liked the part where she goes to the church to "talk" to her deceased mother.

The writing is very vivid and plays well with the character of Charlie.  A couple of references really spoke to his nature:  "...fingers questing into his pocket to extract his phone" and my favorite "An alarm bell claxon tore Charlie from his wispy dreamland with all the tenderness of a blood-lusting T-Rex."

Point-of-view was decent for the most part with only a few snarls, but nothing terribly jarring.  There was only one part toward the end where I questioned the flow and choice of scene placement.  Charlie and Mel get on a plane from Seattle to Japan and then they've landed.  The next chapter opens with a step back 24-hours earlier and we're back in Seattle with the bad guys.  This felt like major whiplash to me.  I think it would have flowed much better and kept in tune with pacing to have Mel and Charlie take-off from Seattle, scene break to the bad guys and their machinations, then break back to Charlie and Mel landing in Japan.

Then there were a few little things that bugged me.  Maybe it was Charlie's youth and inexperience, but he seemed just a bit too naive to me to not figure out sooner that Mel wasn't initially who she said she was - meeting at McDonald's and then a hotel?  Yes, he questioned it the first time, but that could be understandable simply because he was so discombobulated with what was going down concerning his job and co-worker.  But after...?  Mel's seemingly unlimited financial resources were eventually explained, but that stuck in my craw until then that a mere security guard who was the daughter of a mechanic could jet-set around the world with money being no object.  Lastly, I had to suspend reality a bit concerning the time-frame it would take to apply for a visa to go somewhere out-of-country.  Not a huge thing for a novel probably, but this question popped up for me every time they went somewhere new.  Yes, I'm a pesky realist. :-)

There's not much in the way of action here, but for the most part - and considering the nature of the criminal activity - this didn't bother me, because the writing was so strong and descriptive I rarely got bored sitting in front of the computer with Charlie.

For a second release novel, Mr. Sayer I applaud you and offer up Guerrilla Internet four stars.  It's probably not something my mother would enjoy (and there are flashes of rough language) and I struggled a bit to keep up with the "geek speak", but for the technologically savvy crowd - they'd love it.

Author Bio:

By day, he is a voracious code-monkey, building websites, writing programs, diving into databases, and practically anything else involving computers in some way.

By night, he has taken to wresting his serpentine thoughts into semi-coherent prose, leaving the ideas in his head to fester and rot no longer.

Matt resides in Melbourne, Australia, and dreams of one day being lucky enough to entertain his passion for writing full-time, sharing to all the universes in miniature that exist within his head.

Visit his blog at

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