As the world struggles with its own dystopian reality, I thought now was as good a time as any to review a book set in an even more challenging and controlling world.
The second in the iMe series, and the follow up to the incredible Proximity, is another thriller sci-fi masterpiece.
Author Jem Tugwell delivers a searing indictment on technology, control and surveillance as he brings back DI Clive Lussac, a disenfranchised policeman with very little to do now that technology has rendered his job essentially void.
Following the events of Proximity, not much has changed in Tugwell’s compelling setting. Everything and everyone is still tracked through iMe, although many are now campaigning for less state control and more personal freedom.
On the other side of the debate is a tyrannical church, which Clive is compelled to attend by his girlfriend and his doctor, as they both believe it will help him to curb his cravings and make positive changes to his lifestyle and mood.
At the same time, a sinister game is being plotted and played in Europe, with contestants playing to win a coveted place in the Forbidden Island augmented reality universe.
The game takes place in the UK, and when contestants travel here they are forced to wear iTourist bracelets, which track their every move and interaction, much like the iMes that citizens wear.
When these game contestants take drastic measures to take themselves off-grid, Clive finally has some proper work to occupy himself with. It becomes apparent pretty quickly, both to Clive and the players, that this is no ordinary game. Something sinister is happening here, and it’s up to Clive and his limited team to find out what and stop it before it wreaks havoc.
As he did in his first novel, Tugwell has displayed exceptional knowledge of technology, and the ability to explain it brilliantly. There are no wordy explanations or info dumps here; just a gripping thriller that draws you in and doesn’t let go until its jaw-dropping final chapters.
The plot races along thanks to the author’s storytelling prowess, with very few stops to describe the events or technologies involved. Every character, plot twist and setting seamlessly weaves its way into the story, making the book very hard to put down.
The result is a thrilling adventure that takes readers around the world and into the depths of human desperation. Unlike the first in the series, No Signal doesn’t focus on a murderer; this time, it’s about a network and the extreme lengths it will go to achieve its ambitious goals.
So, if, like me, you’re completely aghast by the state of the world right now, then transport yourself to a slightly worse one with the help of this incredible writer.