Friday, April 15, 2011

Book Review – Jeffery Deaver’s The Blue Nowhere

I just finished reading Jeffery Deaver’s The Blue Nowhere. I should probably start by mentioning that this really isn’t my kind of book.

“What do you mean?” you ask?

The simple truth is that there are a very large number of books being pigeonholed into a small list of broad category genres.

While I enjoy most genres including crime fiction and thrillers, they include a large variety of story types and I’m not going to like every story type.

The idea of the whole story revolving around a computer hacker just didn’t appeal to me no matter how much the usual cover blurbs praised it. And, if you read my other reviews, you should know that I don’t pay attention to those blurbs anyway. They strike me as being little more than an advertising gimmick and don’t mean I’ll like the book.

I bought the book for the price. Two books for ten dollars! Who could go wrong? Even if I hate the book, at least I paid only a third of the usual cover price. There wasn’t much of a selection at the time either, so Blue Nowhere won by default. And, just because I can feel your curiosity, I’ll let you know that the other $5 book I bought was a Stephen King short story anthology. No doubts there about whether I’ll enjoy that one. Who doesn’t enjoy a good Stephen King short story? I’m saving that one for summer camping reading. Nothing stirs the creative juices for a good late night campfire story than stories by a good thriller writer.

Now that that’s out of the way, I’ll let you in on another secret. My review is inevitably tainted by my personal tastes and preferences, which happen to not include hacker stories, and are likely very different from other’s personal tastes and preferences.

In essence, this is a story about hacker vs. hacker. It plays on the simple internet truth that even our closest online friends are most often complete strangers who we really know nothing about.

Our main hacker “Wyatt Gillette” a.k.a. “Valleyman” is pitted against his ex-hacking partner “Phate”, who turned from the dark side of hacking to the darker side of blurring the lines between violent online games with real life. Disgusted with Phate’s deadly online activities, Gillette abandons his identity as Valleyman and turns on his online friend. It’s funny how the lesser of two evildoers is the one who gets sent to the big house. Not funny in a “ha-ha” way, but rather in a “isn’t that just the way things go” way.

When Phate’s deadly online hacks and snuff games turn to real life hands-on murders, the fine folks of the Computer Crimes Unit need an expert matching Phate’s skills in order to catch their killer. The bureaucracy springs Gillette from prison and he becomes our main character with an entourage of police officers leading him in the contest against his rival hacker.

Naturally, when Phate learns that his ex-faceless friend and now sworn enemy “Valleyman” is involved in the investigation, he changes the direction of his own online snuff game turned real life and makes his rival into his new main target.

Gillette is something of a geeky character and that pretty much fits my image of a hacker type. Sure that’s stereotyping, but we’re all guilty of that to some degree. I never really got a feel of that reader-character connection to any of the other characters. They seemed more like supporting characters to me.

I haven’t read a bunch of hacker stories, and really know very little about the hacker lifestyle. As a reader not in the know, I really didn’t buy the finger pushups thing. While it may very well be something they do and believe strengthens their fingers, it just seemed weird to me.

There were some events in the book, at the end, that were never explained. But, I think that was by design, a little reminder by the author that there will always be unexplained things in life and in stories.

The scariest part of this story is the reality that hackers like these are alive and well and living in large numbers across the globe. That, and the damage that could be caused at the psychotic whim and a few keystrokes of some anti-social loner who likely is unable to emotionally connect with real people and therefore is likely incapable of empathy. Of course that doesn’t describe all hackers, but even one who does fall into that category is one too many.

While I wouldn’t put this in my “I would read it again” pile, I was not disappointed with the read.

Jeffery Deaver managed to entertain me even though I had pretty much decided I wouldn’t care for the book before I even started reading it.

The story dragged a little at times for me, but the descriptions are good and Deaver moves the story without a lot of extra unnecessary words. It isn’t one of my favourite reads, but I certainly can see that someone who likes this kind of crime thriller would enjoy the story a lot more than I did.

While personal taste is relative, for the reader it means a lot.

Personally, I liked Jeffery Deaver’s Roadside Crosses better.



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Anonymous said...

I liked The Blue Nowhere, mostly because of the title. Also, I read it long before I had a computer or was on the internet, and it gave me an interesting look at the online world. Oddly, I remember liking the book, but I don't remember any part of it.