Three young adults grapple with the usual thirty-something problems - boredom, authenticity, an omnipotent online oligarchy - in David Shafer's darkly comic debut novel.
The Committee, an international cabal of industrialists and media barons, is on the verge of privatizing all information. Dear Diary, an idealistic online Underground, stands in the way of that takeover, using radical politics, classic spycraft, and technology that makes Big Data look like dial-up. Into this secret battle stumbles an unlikely trio: Leila Majnoun, a disillusioned non-profit worker; Leo Crane, an unhinged trustafarian; and Mark Deveraux, a phony self-betterment guru who works for the Committee.
Leo and Mark were best friends in college, but early adulthood has set them on diverging paths. Growing increasingly disdainful of Mark's platitudes, Leo publishes a withering takedown of his ideas online. But the Committee is reading - and erasing - Leo's words. On the other side of the world, Leila's discoveries about the Committee's far-reaching ambitions threaten to ruin those who are closest to her.
In the spirit of William Gibson and Chuck Palahniuk, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot is both a suspenseful global thriller and an emotionally truthful novel about the struggle to change the world in- and outside your head.
©2014 David Shafer (P)2014 Hachette Audio
Edward Snowden has shown us where all the information in our information age is going; David Shafer works out the implications in a clever, fast read that channels the zeitgeist. The set-up (which may seem familiar): a ravenous addiction to digital connectivity has seduced us into handing over vast amounts of personal information to ... who, exactly?... which has provoked an equally frenzied panic about the loss of privacy. A serious topic, surely, but Shafer has made of it a shapely comedy/thriller. The three characters he has chosen to save the world are truly unimpressive: a serious-minded NGO worker, a mentally unstable trustafarian and a deeply hypocritical, self-loathing self-help guru (whose tribulations are especially, hilariously awful). This is a very entertaining read with a serious premise and a solid heart.
An NPR reviewer compared this book to Neal Stephenson's work, but the resemblance is only superficial. Stephenson is an idea man, with a dazzling gift for multi-level narrative and a tough, comprehensive and witty view of technology and its history. Shafer is also witty and inventive, but his concerns are essentially moral. He is less interested in the technologies that have led us to this sorry state of affairs than in what we will make of them.
Husband, Dad, Principal, Adjunct prof, RC Deacon, radio co-host, story teller, NYer, walker, & occasional sipper of fine whisk(e)y,
Mr. Shafer writes very well. He has created interesting characters that have the potential for considerable depth; they are appropriately "snarky" & hip! His world is terrifying possible, and the thesis could be right from tomorrow's news.
My disappointment is that (IMHO) the plot took forever to develop and the best part - the last part of the book was what i was hoping to encounter throughout the whole piece. I wish there had been considerable editing and the end of the book actually be the middle of the book. This book would make more sense if these characters will be part of a series...
Mr. Clark's performance is terrific and the reason I stayed with the book until the end.
You invest over 15 hours in the story and just when you think the character development is complete and the real meat of the story should begin, the book ends?
A decent story line -- the author wasted the story on the buildup and then quit as the "good guys" are about to go to battle with the "bad guys"
the scenes depicting the vapidity of the character who was the author of the bestselling book
too many to remember -- the main editing would be to redo the story
If you see the ending for this book laying around inform the author. I hope he knows it's missing and is looking for it.
The story starts of kinda slow but does pick up and was engrossing. What I liked the least is that it is only half of the book. There isn't an ending. The book just stops
Yes because in current form it is only half a novel
I really enjoyed this book and the story until it unexpectedly ended. I actually thought I hit a button or something when I started to hear the credits. The book just ends with none of the conflicts resolved or anything. Kinda pissed that the author or publisher or both are trying to get 2 books out of one story. Either the author hasn't finished the writing the book, in which case the book shouldn't have been published till he did. If he did does have a complete book give us he whole damn thing. Movies can get away with 2 or 3 parting what is really one story (Harry Potter, Twilight, Hobbit) because the whole story is already out there in book form and it is advertised and expected. I don't think book publishing can get away with that, at least not yet. But this is definitely Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrox part 1 and not a complete novel.
The story line could have been developed by high school students led by a teacher determined to expose the greedy heart of corporate evil (interestingly, this is just a first installment, you will have to pay more if you want to find out how the story ends. But this is, most certainly, neither unethical nor greedy, just good business sense, I guess)
The characters are mostly cut-out figures that fit the expected stereotypes - a beautiful and dedicated NGO worker with a disabled sister who is an uber brilliant scientist. A good-heated drug-addicted alcoholic with mental issues, who miraculously recovers just in time to do the right thing. A brilliant writer who is corrupted by a corporation bent on world domination, run by an evil and omnipotent private security officer, and so on, and so forth.
Save a credit and listen to something else. Anything else, for that matter.
No. While the writing is clever, the story quickly becomes so far-fetched with too many unbelievable coincidences that suspense fades. Then, to top it off, the book ends like a Marvel movie -- with a cliffhanger that screams "Sequel to Come".
No. Read Gibson or any of a dozen more accomplished cyber pop writers.
None rose high enough to be considered favorite
Originally, yes. However, half through the book I began to wonder if the author knew where this was all going. Since he ends the book without ending the story, I suspect he doesn't.
After reading the glowing review in the NYTBR, I was very disappointed in the book.
The universe created by Schaffer is simply an awesome place to spend time. Found myself daydreaming aboard an impossibly clandestine supertanker, eavesdropping on intrigue, befriending wreck less-minded heroes.
The plot sneakily steals into the realm of the fantastic, creating a thought experiment that still resonates a month after finishing. Best of all, it's told through narration that is just damn funny.
My first thought after hearing the last sentence was: 'Why can't all books be like this?'
Excellent narration of a charming book. Tom Clancy for the people who pause just a moment too long in the Trader Joe's, wondering in what kind of world their 'goodness' might matter. It's a scary one, but Whiskey Tango Foxtrot's beguiling tale of good and evil Internets show that it is still possible to tell a neat story about what this world might become, or might already be.
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