Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Date read: October 9 to 11, 2013
Read count: 1
An interesting read. Not at all what I was expecting. When I first read the summary and skimmed other reviewers’ responses, I thought this was going to be a mess.
What I was expecting:
Hardcore BDSM with a murder mystery set in a futuristic world interjected into the story. In between extended sex scenes, of course.
What I got:
Decent writing, interesting characterization, and an interesting pseudo-futuristic story. So basically it’s the opposite of my expectations.
The basic set up is this: there’s a murder mystery plot at the center of the story, a few explicit sex scenes thrown in to keep things interesting–sort of noir-ish in tone and atmosphere–and the unfolding of a corporation-centered world that’s built on sabotage. If explicit sex scenes aren’t your thing but you’re still interested in the book’s set-up, then you’re in luck (maybe?) because they are easy to skip in that they are sectioned off by chapters. You can essentially skip a whole scene by skipping a chapter, but I would at least skim it because there are things in it that’s crucial to plot and character development, and also because sex is the basis of the main characters’ semi-hostile budding relationship. They grow to like and appreciate each other later on, but at the beginning it was just sex. And intrigue. Mostly sex and some intrigue.
The world of New London is a futuristic, post-apocalyptic meltdown kind of world where familiar world orders are no longer in place. Instead, all of Europe is run by The Administration, a sociopathic draconian government body that favors a corporation-based society. We’re introduced to Val Toreth, a high-ranking government official who’s an investigator and interrogator by trade. He’s been assigned to a high-profile death that occurred at a fledgling tech company, and he has to determine whether the death is murder or suicide. Keir Warrick is head of the company under investigation. The start-up is in the final stages of testing a groundbreaking simulation technology, which might or might not be the cause of murder. Perhaps the technology is killing its users? Or is someone within the company sabotaging its development?
It’s sad and unfortunate that this book, well written and plotted as it is, isn’t getting a tenth of the attention Fifty Shades of Grey is getting. Well, we all know why that is. (**cough** heterosexuality always takes precedent **cough**) Though the explicit content itself isn’t so much the problem here since both series feature BDSM, or in Fifty Shades’ case, the author’s weird version of it. While Fifty Shades is making the rounds and will be made into a movie (or a series like the books… yikes), not many have even heard of The Administration. That is sad, really.
* * *
* * * * spoilers below * * * *
Initially, I gave this book a higher rating because the set-up–futuristic world and technology, corporate politics, menacing dystopian atmosphere–and murder mystery intrigued me. I didn’t think that a book such as this would have much in terms of plotting, characterization, or world-building aside from sex and the main characters’ attraction to each other. I really did think it was gonna be all sex, all the time. But I was wrong. There’s actually a story here, and I enjoyed it more than I thought I would.
Although I’m impressed by the story overall, looking back, there were a couple of things I had a difficult time grasping. The sim technology, for one, and the inner workings of big corporation vs. budding corporations, such as SimTech, is another. I think the main problem was I couldn’t imagine how such a small corp like SimTech with such integrity can survive in this cut-throat world. Maybe if other branches of The Administration is featured more in the story, then I’d have a better idea how the government actually works and how they manage this sordid society.
Toreth and his insatiable sexual appetite are interesting, but I can’t imagine how someone like him, who gives in to every sexual urge, makes it through government ranks, all the while joyfully having indiscriminate sex with absolutely no mind for discretion. And at the division of Investigation & Interrogation (I & I), of all places. Does he even know where he works?? He’s a walking series of liabilities, and it’s a wonder the Administration hasn’t done away with him yet. Then there’s Keir Warrick who’s a savvy, smart, but neurotic power player. That, I understand. I even get their mutual attraction. But Toreth? Still can’t wrap my mind around this character. He’s the moodiest sociopathic interrogator I’ve ever encountered.
This is interesting, but a little vague. I don’t know much about IT or virtual realities or simulation technology, and until I find someone who knows these things and have read this book and have that person explain both to me, I can’t say for certain how much of the technology is believable and how much of it is clever authorial sass. However, I must compliment Manna Francis on her writing. It seems she has quite a good grasp on technology in general and research methods and proceedings, government regulations, and government bullshit in particular. Either she’s done a lot of research for this book or she herself used to be a researcher for the private sectors and/or a government personnel at some point in her life.
The ending of the investigation is left somewhat open-ended, and the ending of this installment of the series sets up an interesting premise for the following book(s). However, I don’t really care for how things are wrapped up, with a few loose ends hanging out, but I suppose that’s what the next books are about. I think I will read on, probably, when I figure out the exact order of the books and short stories.