When the great crash happened it was nothing like we feared. There was no panic. No tears. Mostly just slammed fists and swearing. The Internet was down, and hitting refresh didn't work. "Ctrl, alt, delete" was also useless. No one had Internet. Anywhere.
In Notes From The Internet Apocalypse, the net has stopped working. As an entire generation of Twitterites, Facebook afficianados, Chatroulette zombies and redditers descend into the street to find some way of recreating the online experience in the real world, three unlikely heroes join together and set off on a quest to bring the wifi back...
Like anyone who has a blog or lives online, the thought of the Internet vanishing leaves me in a cold sweat! J A couple of days without connecting is difficult enough, but to have no more access whatsoever to all my favourite sites and the constant background noise of the Worldwide Web is a terrifying thought. One that Wayne Gladstone takes and runs with. When I saw the book on a rundown of sf and fantasy novels released this year, I was immediately taken in both by the clever cover and the great blurb. Unfortunately the book wasn’t as much of a touchdown than I had hoped.
And yet it started so well... As the book opens we are introduced to Gladstone the narrator who proceeds to tell us about this world a tiny jump, skip and hop away from our own, where overnight the internet has stopped working. In these early pages, the sheer inventiveness and clever humour that Mr Gladstone brings to creating his world carried me along. From Youtube zombies who force real cats to do trick after trick until they die, to twitter addicts who only speak in tweets, the bitingly dark humour works. While snorting at the outrageous extent people go to to recapture the online world offline, there is still a certain uneasiness as you wonder just how farfetched a lot of this really is.
Unfortunately, this inventiveness did not necessarily translate to either the plot or the characters. Gladstone, our narrator, takes a very long time to take on any kind of active role in what is happening, beyond stumbling around sex clubs looking for his friends. Those two friends are never clearly painted and it is difficult to tell exactly how real they are nor what their actual goals are in relation to Gladstone.
The book kept me going though, through the murky middle parts and towards what seemed to be building towards an interesting, even exciting end. This is where Mr Gladstone the writer lost me completely, though. Awash in a series of confusing events and cypher explanations, not at all helped by the detachment of the narrator who never quite connected emotionally (with me at least), I ended the book completely lost. I still have no idea what the ending was and what it was supposed to mean, nor how much of it was real and how much we are supposed to believe went on in Gladstone the narrator’s mind.
A fabulously inventine and ironic look at our world and just how we might react to the loss of what has become such an important part of our lives we can’t imagine living without it, Notes From the Internet Apocalypse failed to grab my attention in terms of character or plot and left me confused and irritated by the ending. I gave this 2.5 /b/tards out of 5.
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