Book Reviews

Book Review : Cyberstorm by Matthew Mather

cyber-storm-draft-14.2-rgb-684x1024TL;DR

If you’ve ever wondered just how much our society hinges on computers and the digital, and just how much we could potentially hurt if those things were to be attacked, then Cyberstorm by Matthew Mather might just be the book for you.  The story explores what could happen if our nation was digitally attacked, and what it may do to the affected people. While the premise of the book was certainly intriguing I feel like the authors execution was a bit ham fisted. For a large part of the book I found the writing to be heavy and difficult to plod through. I also found his characters making very convenient mistakes that contradicted their personalities. Overall I wouldn’t flat out tell people to avoid the book, but I would suggest that if you wanted to read it to start about halfway through, where things finally start to get interesting.

The Bad (facts):

The book was edited and easy to understand, I don’t really have much to put in this section, move along.

The Bad (Opinions):

1. The first half of the book was very difficult for me to read, and I was constantly struggling with the desire to put the book down and pick up something else that didn’t make me feel like I was wading through literary molasses. Suffice it to say, this book is full of what I consider to be heavy writing.

2. There were quite a few times that I felt like I was reading a stream of consciousness.

3. The characters made some very stupid and uncharacteristic mistakes. For example, a mildly paranoid survivalist would not go out in the middle of the day to retrieve food that they had buried in the snow when people were beginning to fight over food. (Much less do I see said survivalist leaving this food out in the snow any longer than necessary).

4.  I didn’t really relate to or pull for any of the characters. Sure they all were starving, they all had problems, but they all felt flat and cardboard to me. Had the author George R.R. Martin’ed it and killed off all his main characters, I would not have cared.

The Good :

1. The second half of the story is actually quite engaging. Horrible things start happening and we really begin to see people start to devolve into more base and tribal behavior. It starts to feel a great deal less like a strained camping trip and like something truly harrowing is happening.

2. While the authors writing may have been a bit thick for me, some of the issues he addresses are mind bending. He points a bunch of possibilities and potential  ramifications of a cyber attack that I had never considered before.

The Meh:

1. The first 60% of the book was pretty Meh for me. It just felt a bit confused, as if the author wasn’t really sure what story he wanted to tell. I think had he cut out the first 150 or so pages and worked this story into a novella rather than a full length novel it would have turned out significantly better.

2. I really felt like the author was pitching his political views to me at a few points in the story, in an attempt to use the book as a method of warning me against real life dangers that I should be concerned about because he said so. “You should be afraid of this because if you aren’t stuff like this could happen!” I often felt this way when the characters in his book were waxing philosophical about what they thought was wrong with the world.

3. For the first probably 80% of the book his characters are so extremely sexist it boggled my mind. The men in the book always went out and did all the “hard manly” work while the fragile women folk stayed at home and took care of the babies. The conversations were usually full of the men being belligerent towards each other and posturing, while the women were just struggling to make everyone get along and be happy together. This changes later in the book, but it really felt to me like a beta reader pointed out that the characters were cast in sexist light and he did not want to go back and remedy it, so he just threw in a part near the end where the remaining women get food and take care of the men.

4. The ending felt way too happy disney to me, I would have much preferred a darker, less happy ending to mirror the latter half of the book.

Story Synopsis:

In this story we follow the tenets of the sixth floor of an apartment building in Manhattan and watch how they all cope with the realities of a cyber attack on their city. To compound their issues horrible blizzards are pounding New York, burying the powerless city under a freezing blanket of snow. At the start everyone believes that help is on the way, but as time drags on food and clean water become scarce, relationships become strained, and the snow just keeps falling. Just when you think things can get no worse, they do. Still even in this dark hour there are a few bright shining stars of human compassion, but will they be enough to help Mike, Lauren, Chuck, Susie, and their respective children through the Cyberstorm that has swallowed up Manhattan?

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