Amazing, if amazingly paranoid, view of modern life in today's industrialized world, where no amount of surveillance is too much and only a few people seem to care. After all, they're only wiretapping the bad people, right? Those chips in my passport are for my own good, those facial recognition programs that can reduce my face to an algorithm will only be used to find terrorists, and those datamining programs that can analyze all my credit purchases will only be used to send me coupons. No, it's not a clever amalgamation of all of Dick Cheney's wet dreams. According to the author (who lives off the grid) all the tech in the novel is already in use or is in development. Melding this real-life information with a page-turner plot of brother against brother, a deadly female bodyguard, and even davinci-esque ancient societies struggling across the ages to hide their secrets, JXIIH has created a highly compelling novel that really made me think about how much of my privacy I have given away to The Great Machine. Can't wait to read the next installment. Note: I listened to this book (unabridged) as read by Scott Brick who did a fantastic job.
If I was having to fly to New Zealand, I'd take this book - it would entertain me on the long flight and inevitable delays. It is undemanding, entertaining and full of holes. A confection that attempts to merge '1984' with Lara Croft, with a bit of 'pulp fiction' violence thrown in. The basic premise - that mass surveillance can be used for control and subverted for evil - isn't new, and the protagonists who support or oppose this view in the novel are just presented and the listener is asked to believe. There's nothing about how or why this near-future dystopia came into being and only the sketchiest exploration of motives. The characters are pretty conventional, with the stereotyped 'baddy', the love interest sub-plot, and the guy who sees the error of his ways and sacrifices himself for the just cause (etc etc - you get the idea). The premise that massive computer systems linked between the USA and London can track individuals is fine, but people escape this simply by travelling to 'the third world' - lightweight even for today, let alone the future.
I enjoyed the narration, a well timed, skillful read, with a light US accent, the narrator taking a run at cockney and various other accents without falling over too much. The book itself is pacily written, so it is a bit of a page-turner and I was keen to listen to the next chapter, only to groan sometimes at the sheer predictability of the characters and plotting. The best parts in my view are episodes when the characters adventure into different realms - here some truly imaginative stuff takes place, entertaining and fresh.
So - overall - in my view a good holiday 'read'. Be prepared to be entertained, but not challenged, suspend your disbelief and go for a gallop along paths that often sound pretty familiar; above all don't actually think about the story else it will unravel. If you get really bored you can play 'guess what Maya (=Lara) is going to do next'. Then read or listen to "1984".
I focus on fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, science, history, politics and read a lot. I try to review everything I read.
This is not much worse than most fiction. The characters are less than two dimensional (maybe 1.5 dimensions) and the story is about as simple as they come. Otherwise the writing is not terribly bad. I was unhappily surprised to find at the non-ending of this book that it is the first in a trilogy. Although I stuck this book out to the end, I would not subject myself to another volume.
The author says that the surveillance technology described in the book is real, and exists today. Clearly some of the technology does exist today, but some seems the product of paranoia. Auto GPS systems are passive (they don?t transmit). Although many products (including tires) have ID chips, these would not be readable from any substantial distance, and the data linking the ID to a vehicle is unlikely to exist. From my experience in the software field, it is difficult to get two departments of the same company to share data. It seems unlikely to me they would share this data with the vast machine without compensation. Satellite phones, on the other hand, do transmit and are trackable and people walking around with metal swords would likely be detected by any vast machine worth its chips. The overall impression I get is this book is an elaborate excuse for not paying ones income taxes. This does not make for compelling fiction.
I listened all the way through, but this was rather weak. The premise was not the problem, but the style is poor and the ending just prepostorous. We expect the good guys to win, but it is as though the author just completely gave up and ignored all the previous strenghths of the bad guys.
This book is basically a modern day copy of 1984. Granted everyone and their brother copied George Orwells big brother idea, but there really isn't anything all that new here. People seem to compare this to the matrix, though they forget the matrix was visually stimulating and this book isn't. I hate to rip on an author, but I didn't find any new angles here.
This is the best book I've listened to in a while. The idea for the book is very interesting and Scott Brick did a good job narrating. Although, I may have a biased opinion because I did a report at school over the TIA system which was mentioned in the book (Total Information Awareness System). This is a real system that is in the works in our government. Its purpose is to invade every American?s privacy in order to catch terrorists. In fact, the plan for this system was so intrusive, and in turn so controversial, that they changed it?s name to the ?Terrorist? Information Awareness System, as if it would change how the system worked. There is a lot of truth to this book, but at the same time it is a little bit exaggerated. But exaggeration always makes for an interesting plot?right? My only complaint was the open ending, but I also didn't realize initially that this was the first book of a trilogy, which has yet to be finished. I will definitely be waiting for the next two.
The Traveler is a very good book for anyone who is facinated with stories and subject lines dealing with big brother, the evolution of our planet in the future and the Matrix movies.
This audio book is rather difficult to follow in the first chapters. I had to replay more than a few times if I was distracted. Once you get past the first three chapters, it is easier to listen to. I didn't need to replay any of the audio since I became rivetted to the story at that point.
A BIG warning to potential listeners...this is the first book in what is to be a trilogy. Count on downloading the second book when you get the first because the first book ends abruptly leaving anyone who isn't aware of the continuing saga to cuss the author for the way it ends or rather doesn't tie up for a smooth ending. Enjoyable listen.
Scott Brick brings this clunker to life as he could for your local phone book. Sadly, this material is really not worth his talent.
The plot is standard Orwell ripoff with predictable over-the-top bad guys who are puppeteers for the gubmit. The good guys are supposed to be heroic, but how heroic is it to hide from the system rather than openly challenge it? They end up looking so scared and pathetic that you sometimes find yourself hoping they'll just lose that next sword fight and end their misery. But, no chance of that unless one decides to stop being maudlin and morose. If one of them starts to enjoy life they are guaranteed to lose the next sword fight. Evidently heroic misery is its own reward.
All of that would be forgiveable if the plot were the least bit imaginative. It's not. I've read better comic book plots.
Twelve Hawks introduces the book by claiming he "lives off the grid", yet here we are buying his book from the heart of the grid. I'm guessing the grid knows where to send his royalty checks. He's taking himself way too seriously.
This story is silly and the characters are more like caricatures. It is such drivel and so over-the-top in its attempt to be all-inclusive and all-encompassing that it feels like the low-budget scifi stuff that MST3K likes to poke fun at. As for the "...deep chilling specter of an all-too-possible social and political reality." I think the Publisher's Weekly person who wrote that for the book's publication must not have actually read the book, but instead just listened to the ominous sounding forward by John Twelve Hawks.
Although I could be called a conspiracy theorist, I don't believe some things can be called theories once there is hard evidence attached to it. The fact is American citizens, as well as citizens of the globe, are losing their freedom to the powers that be. We are watched continuously as we drive to work, shop, and live our lives. With one swipe of a card our entire history becomes apparent. Of course, our leaders claim it's all in the name of safety. They create events to keep us in fear. In fear we agree to lose our privacy because our government will keep us safe. But at what cost? "The Traveler" dives into the realm of the not so distant future. As a matter of fact, everything the author writes about is real. There are really facial recognition cameras, identity chips, etc. This book brings to life a frightening reality of what is already happening, has already happened. It makes us aware of the fight we need to put up for our freedom, instead of just rolling over and playing dead. A great scenario of the dangers of our lack of privacy is in the "Ordering Pizza in 2010" short on the internet. This isn't so far away, and we should really take our personal freedoms much more seriously. "The Traveler" was entertaining, fast paced, well thought out and executed with great characters! A must read.