April 25, 2012

Socialpunk Book Review

So I was asked to read and review the new book Socialpunk by Monica Leonelle.

I jumped on this opportunity immediately b/c not only do I love reading but the synopsis completely intrigued me:
Ima would give anything to escape The Dome and learn what’s beyond its barriers, but the Chicago government has kept all its citizens on lockdown ever since the Scorched Years left most of the world a desert wasteland. When a mysterious group of hooded figures enters the city unexpectedly, Ima uncovers a plot to destroy The Dome and is given the choice between escaping to a new, dangerous city or staying behind and fighting a battle she can never win.
The book was an enjoyable read - and a quick one as it's a YA novel and it was only 275 pages.  It is the extremely fast paced story of a teenaged girl, Ima, who escapes her current reality and discovers a completely new one.

As this is an honest review I'll start with the negative.  The character development was not very in depth.  I found myself having difficulty understanding or caring about the choices the characters made because I just didn't know enough about who they were and what motivated them.  I think part of this is that this novel is the first in a series.  It is setup for future novels.  So perhaps the characters will gain more depth as the series continues.  However since this is a setup I think alot more backstory would have been appropriate.

The part where this book really shines is in the worlds that it creates.  Two very different settings are described - both future visions of Chicago. The first is a domed city because the rest of the world is Scorched.  Interesting thought on where we could be headed.  The second Chicago is what intrigued me the most...(warning the next bit of this review might be a bit spoilerish)

In this world computers are integrated into the characters very brains.   No, really.  Which leads to two really dramatic things - first of all noone asks questions anymore.  Because if you even think it your brain tells you it in incredible detail that only a computer could give you.  Ummmm... that sounds a bit like what smartphones have already done to normal conversation.  Noone talks about facts anymore - someone just looks it up on their phone and the conversation is over.  And if we aren't communicating through questions and answers how are we communicating?

The second is that the built environment is essentially blank.  Then the characters use their minds to customize what they see.  Again this is a startling and fascinating extrapolation of where we are now.  And is customizing your environment any different than customizing the interface on your phone or tablet?  What is the logical end to this incredible dependance on having the interenets in our back pocket all the time always?  Honestly you could replace iphone with mind in every sentence of this excerpt and it would completely be describing me:
she'd become so reliant on the data that flowed through her mind whenever she summoned it. She couldn't imagine living without it, couldn't imagine having to ask questions every time she needed information, couldn't imagine not knowing where she was or what time it was at any given moment
And the really interesting question the book raises is what if the providers of the technology that we rely on for EVERYTHING have nefarious intentions?  Fascinating (and really alarming) thought.  Especially for someone as into social media as I am. (if google wanted too?  they could end me).

(please, google, don't end me.  I puffy heart love you.  Even if I never ever use google+ for anything ever seriously why do you even have that lever?)

Anyways!  I very much enjoyed reading this book and writing this review.  Thanks so much to Monica Leonelle for this opportunity - I wish her the best of luck with this release and with her upcoming books Socialmob and Socialhood.

Oh and I haven't told you the best part yet - she's having a huge giveaway to celebrate her book launch!  Here's how to enter:

a Rafflecopter giveaway In exchange for an honest review I was given a kindle copy of the book.  I wasn't compensated and all of the opinions in this review are mine.
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