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Book review, Buzz by Anders de la Motte

Today I'll be reviewing another book I have mixed feelings about. It is primarily the question of whether I'm reading too much into this book. Is it really a social satire or is it something I want it to be? Does it has a deeper message or am I reading too much into it? I just can't tell or sure. Perhaps I need to read more from this author to be able to tell. This was my first novel by Anders de la Motte. I bought the book in Croatian translation ages ago, but it took me this long to pick it up? Why? Because the writing didn't look exactly inviting. I'll explain what I mean in this review. 

When it comes to book as such, I have to say that I'm not that impressed.  In my introduction, I mentioned that I'm not sure whether this book really is social satire or not. I wanted it to be, because the subject of Buzz's social satire is quite important. Buzz is a novel that questions the  consequences of our 'digital lives'. As I explained, there is only one thing I really liked about this book - the fact that it addressed an important issue and that would be the complete 'lack of privacy' we are experiencing in our digital age.

 Internet remembers everything- and as the author noticed, not even Orwell with his Big Brother concept could have foreseen the monitoring we are all agreeing to these days. Now, this is not a subject you see debated in most novels. In that sense, Buzz felt quite relevant. Moreover, the way that the Internet manipulation and the media control was connected with some other concepts in the model actually made sense. One of the few things that made sense in the novel! So, that's the part that I enjoyed.

The rest of this novel didn't really appeal to me. The plot was neither interesting nor convincing, and it took forever to get things in motion. It sure didn't help that I couldn't care less for the protagonists. I felt nothing! When you feel absolutely no empathy for the protagonists, it's hard to keep one's interest. The writing style was annoying, and the shifting POV was confusing. True, the point of view only shifts between two people, the protagonist MP and his sister Rebecca, but the shifts were so sudden they were distracting. Sometimes it would literally just be a few sentences from MP, and we switch to Becca's point of view. In addition, I felt like the synchronization between their 'parts' felt artificial. For example, MP's 'parts' would often end up with the same words Becca's would begin, and the things they were going through weren't exactly related so I felt it was forced. MP and Becca were, quite frankly, quite annoying. I find it hard to relate to them and obviously this got in the way of my reading enjoyment.

This novel is a sequel. I haven't read the first novel, but having read this one, I think I understand the concept of Geim well enough. It seems to be only slightly similar to the movie it shares the title with, as the concept of the 'game' in this series seems quite different. Ages ago I remember seeing a trailer for the movie Game (with Micheal Douglas), I actually thought that the movie was based on the novel, but since it predates it, it seems that I was wrong. I also read the synopsis of the movie and it's definitely a different concept. 

Now, I can't comment on the first book, but I can say that I liked the idea of the game in this book. Moreover, I like the way the IT industry fit the picture. At some point in the novel, MP gets a job in an IT company, that seems to be trolling for a living. Not just trolling and blogging, but controlling information on a much larger scale. This company actually makes money from directing attention to where its clients might want it and manipulating digital space and media in the process. That part was actually well written. The characters were caricatures, the events were unlikely and the action sequences were ridiculous, but that part about media manipulation was quite fascinating. The problem with this novel is that the really 'interesting' part covers 20 pages at best. Is it worth reading for that? 
Should Buzz be praised for the originality of some of its ideas despite the fact that it pretty much sucks a thriller? 

Did the author wrote a crappy thriller just to put forward his ideas about 'compromised personal security/privacy' ? I sure hope so. It's definitely a better motivation than writing a bad thriller just to make money. I like to think Anders de la Motte wrote it to worn us about the possible dangers of modern lack of privacy, but then again I might be an idealist. 

You know I have a feeling that the author of this book is quite smart. You can kind of sense that in the novel. Too bad he can't write. It's a shame, really. Clearly Anders has something meaningful to say, clearly he has good ideas, and he even makes some good social commentary but he can't write. He just can't write.

How do I grade this one? As a thriller novel I disliked it, found it boring and tedious. As a social commentary I liked it, but not enough to forgive the already mentioned flaws: the slow pace narrative, the terrible plot, the bad writing and the uninspired characters. I do want to read the sequel, if for nothing else then to see whether it is worth the effort. In the meantime the question remains, how to grade Buzz? Originally I wanted to give it one star, but I'll add two more, because Buzz's subject does feel relevant. Internet has many hidden dangerous. The media is not as free as it seems, nor are we as informed as we like to think. There is too much information that can be easily manipulated. Now, that I think of it- isn't that an important message?


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