Review: Strictly Analog

This is going to be tough. I really like Richard Levesque’s blog, and the writing he displays in his posts. After many breaks for other books and almost putting it down altogether, I finally finished Strictly Analog. And well, I must say: I don’t like it. It’s not the worst story I have ever read, but it is far from good either.

The Story

Ted Lomax, a veteran from the California-Vegas independence war, lost one eye during his last battle. This injury rendered him a misfit, unable to embrace the new and ubiquitous technology: Iyz – computerized glasses similar to Google’s if you will. Owning those Iyz displays status, and puts the wearer above the poor masses.

You are connected to The Grid (the central information exchange hub) with those Iyz. They are basically replacing any other technical device. Ted works as a private detective under the label Strictly Analog, well because he is offline, forced to be. He earns enough to live, but not much more and is occasionally helped out with ‘digital’ things by Philly, a paralyzed woman bound to a spider-chair, which she controls through a BCI (brain computer interface).

The company CalCor, the one that made the Iyz, is controlling the now independent, dangerous and in many places lawless or gang controlled California. In many occasions the author hints at China, being the nation that took over America’s role in world-scale affairs.

Ted has a teenage daughter from before the war, who lives with her mother (Ted‘s ex) and her step-father Miles, a high ranked secret police officer – being Ted‘s superior during the war.

One day his daughter is accused murder. Her own boyfriend, also in the secret police and Miles’ protégé, is the victim. She is threatened to be thrown out of the country, deported to Nevada. Ted only has a few days time to find the real offender and get her free.

Ted is desperate to do something. He will try to free her, but the chances seem really slim, and the officials are eager to throw people out of the country. Innocent or not, is of minor importance. Having handled the case fast and with a strong fist is their major concern.

With the generous help of Philly he starts his investigations, which lead him to Celia, the woman, the victim had seen last, and her brother Sonny, a rogue hacker badly wanted by CalCor. A mysterious chase after ‘ancient’ as well as cutting-edge technologies unfolds and ends abruptly and  … quite obvious.

The Rating

The technologies, the author describes, don’t seem believable. It’s not that I think, it’s not possible. No, it’s more the way HOW he describes them. It’s the lengthy justification of all those things, I guess. Just because you tell the same thing ten times and from different perspectives, doesn’t make it more real.

There are many inconsistencies too. A USB connector? Everything else is easily connected wireless. Moving mouse-pointers around when you have a computer brain interface? Going through lists of information manually?

The author should have deviated far more from the current technology or far less. The current situation isn’t bearable for me.

The lengthy descriptions of some computer interface usage are annoying and straight away boring.

I don’t like the first person perspective, but that’s personal taste.

The writing isn’t bad at all. The underlying detective story and it’s twists, have some potential to carry you along. Despite they didn’t, at least for me. I guess the lengthy explanations, the setting (from the technology perspective) and the unnecessary computer interface usage descriptions destroyed it for me.

Before getting to the numbers here are some thoughts about how the book might be improved.

Leave the tech-stuff out or unsaid at most parts. Don’t try to explain things. It doesn’t make them more believable. State the facts, plain and simple as they are and get over. The audience (in my opinion) buys things more easily if the acting characters don’t constantly wonder. That’s their daily life, after all. And don’t make things so very special that aren’t really. I personally know at least three people that are basically one-eyed.

Only one word: over-explained – technically two, I guess – describes the books major flaw.

Cut it down to it’s half, it will only gain.

2.5 out of 7 stars.

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