My Rating ****
The Alexandria Project by Andrew Updegrove is a fast-paced and high-octane cyber thriller. It is a finely plotted Sci-Fi mystery, which takes you on an adventure that is full of twist and turns. This is the first novel by Andrew Updegrove and he has handled it with great artistic power. Updegrove’s deep knowledge of entrepreneurs, technology companies, venture capitalists and cyber security are all visible in this novel. It is, however, his ability to handle this knowledge with beautiful narrative style and, most importantly, his experiments with form and style that gives him enough room and scope to express himself fully and satisfactorily in this novel. While the book is basically a futuristic crime caper, it is a world where humanity and technology have been inextricably fused together with results both miraculous and profane. The verse is filled with colours of algorithms and artificial intelligence and the texture contains the virtual world of hackers and crackers. However, do not worry as all of this has been dealt in a coherent manner. The narrative is not only slick and jagged like a serrated knife, but also breezy and hard-edged. You will certainly love it. This is a right book to venture your journey into the world of cyber thrillers.
Now, let us turn our attention to the storyline. “Thank you for your contribution to the Alexandria Project” is the message cyber attackers are leaving behind as they are deleting crucial data from computer networks all over America and it’s not long before the nation is on the verge of breakdown. All internet-based economies including important government agencies are falling victim to this attack. Public uproar is building day by day. Frank Adversego, a brilliant cyber security expert, is finding himself under suspicion. The only way he can clear himself from this suspicion is to trace the origin of the Alexandria Project. Will Frank be able to do it? Will all internet-based economies collapse? Will America finally break down? Well…you will have to read the book to know that. In addition, there is a game of power muscle between the FBI and CIA, a missile catastrophe and a stunningly written climax. Although I am not going to disclose anything more, I can ensure you that this is a beautifully crafted story of cyber sleuthing which not only moves at a brisk pace but also throws light on some serious issues (that we can face in future). And, there is no denying in the fact that I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.
One of my favourite things about this novel is the wonderful characterisation. As you read the book, it becomes evident that the author has taken enough care to give each of his creations their own fully developed backstory. The realism used in the treatment of all these characters makes Updegrove’s art look credible. There are a number of great characters to discover and enjoy in the book. However, one character you fall in love with immediately is Frank Adversego. You start to develop a liking towards him from the first chapter itself. Although he may be one of the most brilliant technological persons around, his lack of focus on a given task make him vulnerable. His personal life is in shambles. The credit should be given to the author for restraining himself to project Frank as a superman because this is what makes Frank adorable. In addition to Frank, we have Frank’s daughter Marla who is unlike her father. She is sociable, posed and self-assured. She is very protective of her father and her character helps the story develop smoothly. She is one of the bright-sparks of the story. I also liked the character of Agent Carl Cummings as his character brought some lighter moments in the story. Furthermore, there are well constructed characters of George Marchand (Frank’s boss) and Frank’s father (the amiable and wily retired FBI agent). Both of these characters add strength and colour to a story that’s simply enthralling.
The book under review is a worth read and will certainly appeal to a wide audience. There is something in it for everyone. The technical details have been presented in plain English and therefore easily understandable. There is a great story with an array of well-developed characters. The Alexandria Project is a micro-universe with characters and complications. It is a global village – in the sense that the village itself embodies the entire globe. The crucial moments of the plot quietly remind readers of their existence and their appearance in the story signifies continuity and development, stability and flow. Most importantly, the book provides a clear understanding of the potential grand-scale danger involved with a heavily technology-reliant society beyond being unfriended in social networking sites. I sincerely thank the author for not only sending me a copy of this beautifully written book but also, in a way, getting me acquainted to the complicated cyber world. I will strongly recommend this book to everyone.
Eagerly waiting for the sequel…:)
(Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book in exchange of an honest review)