This is a really slow book. Since it’s in the Thriller genre, I was expecting there to be more action and a much swifter pace. With that said, the over all premise is an interesting one. White Hat hackers unite! It takes over half the book to get to that point, but once it does, there is a bit of action and a set up for more action in the sequel.
Jacob Michaels is always so very, very polite. It takes a lot of dialogue to be that polite and considerate all the time. He’s faced with some tough truths that rise abruptly and smack him in the face and yet, he is still the polite, caring person. In his 30s, he’s never pursued a deep romantic relationship wanting to wait until he can afford a wife… but he says it in a more considerate way. This quaint mind set made me think of 1800s and even early 1900s where it was fairly common for men in their 40s to marry women half their age. So obviously Jacob has some deep seeded issues to work on.
His mom and granny were White Hats as well but unfortunately they are dead. I think having them alive and meddling would have made this story much more interesting. As it is, the ladies are nearly all romantic interests with a few other skills that we rarely get to see in action. Petra is the main love interest and is a skilled White Hat, though we are mostly told that and not shown. I think she’s in her 40s or older but that’s unclear. Julie is a flirtatious barista with hidden skills. Patty also has hidden skills but seems to be most proficient in inventive bedroom play. Haddy is married. Master Po, while currently celibate, used to enjoy oral sex and was proficient at it. As you can see, with nearly every female character, there is a bedroom scene. While the men get to be professional managers, hackers, bad guys, cops, spies, business men, etc.
At one point, Petra is thinking to herself how attracted she is to Jacob because of his aura of danger. So funny! Jacob hasn’t done anything dangerous at all at this point. He keeps in shape but he doesn’t have any hand to hand combat training nor any gun or knife proficiency. So, no danger here. Also, that was during the bike tour of the Long Island wineries. Petra has a motorcycle but she lacked the experience to carry a heavier passenger on the back seat, so she let Jacob drive. Argh! If Petra had a slew of other skills that we see used in this plot, that scene wouldn’t bother me so. With Petra relegated to Main Love Interest, it’s a let down. She’s been riding since her teen years but has never carried heavier people on the back seat…. It would have been so easy to give her this one skill and put it on display.
OK, so about halfway through this book we finally get a dead body. Yes! Let the action commence! The pace does pick up a little but it’s still pretty darn slow for a Thriller. I did really like how complicated things got for Buzz, Jacob’s best friend. He’s been taking it too easy, using Jacob to complete his own work tasks (Buzz’s coding skills aren’t all that). Now he’s in some hot water and he has to make some tough choices. I expect Book 2 will show us more of Buzz.
There are a ton of info dumps all the way through this book. Some are fun, cutting edge science or just plain science fiction and I enjoyed those. Like there’s some image encryption tech coupled with tattoos. Yes! That’s very interesting stuff and I wish we had more of it. There’s info dumps on China’s economics and how that relates to cyber security and also on the Enigma machine of WW2. Those were interesting if a bit long winded. Other info dumps were pretty pedestrian and only increased the word count to this novel. Honestly, I don’t really need to know how many pairs of socks Jacob packed to go to DefCon in Las Vegas.
For the most part, the characters stay the same throughout the story. I was expecting some character growth since there wasn’t much action going on. Perhaps the characters needed some action to force them to grow. Buzz showed the greatest growth and that was just a smidge. Some evil Russians (Sergei and Grigory) come in late in the book and give us some true, if one dimensional, villains to watch out for. I did feel for the white tiger Nikky.
All told, the book has promise but it’s long winded. 3/5 stars.
The Narration: Steven Jay Cohen does a pretty good job. He has distinct voices for all the characters and most of his female voices sound like ladies. I felt he struggled with some of the accents a little, some being a bit over accentuated. For the first few hours, Cohen kept putting a slight emphasis on an odd word in every other sentence. It wasn’t William Shatner level, but it was noticeable. After a while, this did smooth out and wasn’t noticeable very often. There’s no technical issues with this recording. 4/5 stars.
I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by MK Marketing. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.