We Are Watching

By M. Stephen Stewart
Published December 2014
Published by Primrose Publishing
Source: Netgalley
America is dead and gone. Standing on its grave is Planetary Link Corporation—last of the big data networks. In one hand, Plink holds the Ring, a massively popular social network used to gather intelligence on everyday people. In the other, the NEX, a life-altering brain implant which allows Plink total control over information, knowledge, and its own citizenry.

Trainee Technician Henry Malone’s job is to ensure that this control continues unchallenged. That is, until Henry repairs the NEX of a stranger. He finds her mind isn't like any other. She's in possession of illegal memories, unauthorized knowledge, and a message: speak to me later, and tell no one.

Upon contacting her, Henry finds himself in the eye of a growing conflict between the domineering Planetary Link Corporation and Sever, a violent organization devoted to Plink’s total destruction.

All the while, he begins to hear the voice of his long-dead father.

This book has a lot of potential, and I'm interested to see where the story might eventually go in the series. The pacing, however, was a little too quick and lacked that certain panache that makes combat sequences engaging to the point where I found myself skimming over a good number of them. The story itself is basically a heavy handed formulaic retelling of the Hero's Journey though again, the ending makes it seem like it might go down a different path later on. One specific thing that grabbed me was the constant mention of the MC in particular (though several other characters as well,) sweating. It seemed like it was intended to speak to the stressfulness of the situations they're involved in, but instead just came off as gross and managed to make a character who was already unlikeable for various reasons harder to go along with for this tale. Mind you, I've read a lot of books with narrators I couldn't stand that I've adored as pieces of work and so that alone is not the end all be all of any book. This book does not do it successfully. The worldbuilding is interesting. The characters, pacing, and dialogue need a lot of work. Hopefully the author will continue to grow as a writer and the second installment will be better than the first. I intend to at least check it out whenever that should happen.

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