Smart by Joel Mentmore
Black Friday deals - an avalanche of bookish bargains, plus extra discounts and clearance items - live now at Foyles
|Smart by Joel Mentmore|
|Reviewer: Ani Johnson|
|Summary: An intriguing and ultimately disturbing sci-fi adventure based on the sort of phone we use every day. Smart phone technology and computer interfacing makes life easier? Read this and think again! Joel Mentmore popped into Bookbag Towers to chat to us.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 332||Date: February 2016|
|External links: Author's website|
Jon and Skull – Matthew to his mum – are men with a passion for technology and built a business around that. They also embrace anything innovative, as Jon has embraced Lucy; a smartphone app that monitors and assists with his health and life choices. Skull is more into the idea of expanding Tesla car technology and so lets Jon get on with it. Therefore when Jon goes missing, Skull is not only surprised but doesn't realise what Jon was caught up in. Shame he didn't pay more attention as that would not only help Skull find Jon, it may keep both of them alive.
For me the best sci-fi takes that which is around already and simply extrapolates. This is precisely what Joel's done by taking us further into the world of that little app-saturated ringing thing in our back pockets and bags. Extending its artificial intelligence and ability to interface with other programs, Joel gives us an idea of the near future in an almost earthbound 2001 direction.
The levels of disturbance may be up there with 2001 but Joel's novel isn't so sparsely inhabited. There are quite a few quirk-drenched people on either side of the goodie/baddie line from Jon's sister and Skull's ally, Jac to the Eastern Europeans who have little regard for Skull's wellbeing for some reason he can't fathom.
There are lulls in the pacing for the first half. However as we go back with Skull through past events and conversations with Jon to make sense of it all, the intrigue keeps us going. Then the real adventure kicks off and we're on an adrenalin ride that doesn't stop till the last page. We soon realise that, having made a mess of his life up till now, this is one thing that Skull can't fail at or it'll be the last thing he does.
The really interesting thing is the affinity that Joel evidently has with IT. There are some good twists and turns as discoveries are made, but the logic behind the train of events causing the result of the end game's exciting climax is pure reasoning magic.
It may also seem logical to assume that something featuring IT geekery and Betty (Skull's nearly Knight Rider Tesla car) is a bloke's book. Not a bit of it! There are techie explanations dotted here and there but they're not long and can be avoided by the disinterested without detriment to the action and excitement. Indeed, in the end a good thriller is universal, especially when it's based on something we all take for granted that could be sleep-walking us towards a horrific scenario.
Anyone who only thought we had to worry about data protection issues concerning app notifications, buckle yourself in. Your perspective on this may well change.
(We'd like to thank the publisher, Prolibris for providing us with a copy for review.)
Further Reading: If you enjoy speculative sci-fi mixed with a thrill or two, we also recommend The Execution Channel by Ken MacLeod.
You can read more about Joel Mentmore here
Joel Mentmore was kind enough to be interviewed by Bookbag.
You can read more book reviews or buy Smart by Joel Mentmore at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
You can read more book reviews or buy Smart by Joel Mentmore at Amazon.com.
Like to comment on this review?
Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.