on Feb. 7, 2011 :
In a world where we rely almost completely on the luxury of instant communication it’s nearly impossible to imagine how quickly humanity would spiral downward if that luxury were yanked away. In fact, as I was typing those words the mere thought gave me a heart palpitation.
So imagine, if you will, how I felt while reading Brandon C. Laraby’s 404. Set two years after the government has pulled the plug on the Internet, society has crumbled in upon itself. Using the excuse of a super hack, the government seems to have no intention of telling the general public what really happened, or how they plan to actually get things back up and running.
And this is how we stumble upon recovering Internet addict/newbie reporter, Marco Temura. When charged with the task of interviewing a local senator, Marco puts his life on the line to deter an assassination attempt on the senator in question. When the senator turns up dead just hours later, word hits the streets that Temura is to blame.
Celebrated as a hero by the general public, but wanted by the government, Temura and Jess, the news station’s camera woman, find themselves on the run while they try to uncover the truth. Their journey exposes them to people and truths that are sometimes even harder to swallow than the original situation that started it all.
404 was a fast-paced read I found myself quickly burning through. At first the present-tense narrative threw me off as it’s not something you encounter regularly, but it worked well in keeping the story flowing quickly. The characters were easy to relate to, and it was disconcerting how easy it was to envision this post-Internet-apocalypse world Laraby created.
There is some pretty intense, adult material in 404 beyond casual swearing, so it’s definitely not recommended for the easily offended. Techno-thriller isn’t something I read on a regular basis, but I did enjoy this story. In his end notes, Laraby noted that the idea for the novel arrived in the form of a television miniseries that would never come to pass in a depressed economy that couldn’t do with anymore potential depression, but it was definitely a miniseries I’d tune into.
Overall, I give 404 four out of five stars.
Laraby’s debut novel, 404 is currently available in a variety of eBook formats for $9.99 on Smashwords. Coming in just under 60,000 words, I wonder if $9.99 isn’t a little steep for an indie author’s first work in electronic format, but that’s the beauty of indie publishing. As an author you can set your own terms and price.
Now if you'll excuse me, I’ll be over in the corner in fetal position hugging my laptop, Kindle and cellphone as though it was our last night on earth together.
(reviewed 10 days after purchase)