This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.
A suicidal machine. A child with a secret that can change the world. The man trapped between them. In the City, where machines take care of everything, lives Albert, an ordinary citizen with an extraordinary problem: Hes being blackmailed into becoming the first person in living memory to actually do something.
What begins as a chance encounter with an outlaw child swiftly spirals out of control as Albert is trapped between the authorities and the demands of his unusual blackmailer. Forced to go on the run for his life, he finds himself in a shadow world of cyber-junkies, radicals and rebels, where he discovers the horrifying truth behind the City, a truth that will make him question everything he has ever known.
Inside the Dome, everything was perfect. Outside the Dome, there was nothing. We’d finally achieved the perfect existence. AI was alive and well and running everything. A 100% unemployment rate was frowned upon, so everyone was employed at the aptly named “Employment Department” or attended the Academy. The only work one had to do for 8 hours was to update thousands of other people you’d never meet on your status or have a chat with them. I can only think of it as social media run amok.
Albert wasn’t looking for anything new. He thought life was pretty dull, boring, and predictable, but that’s just the way things were, right? Then one night, caught up in his own musings, he left work late and missed the transport back to his home. He found himself in a section of town where Outliers were known to congregate. However, he’d walked in so deep before realizing it, he decided to keep going instead. Along the way, he was ambushed by a group of children, evil children. The head of the gang, Theo, was something else. At the end of the confrontation, the lawbots had everything under control and Albert ended up rescuing Theo.
The next day at work, while stressing over what he was going to do about having an unauthorized person in his home, he saw “SUE WANTS TO HAVE A CONVERSATION” appear on his screen. Nothing he did could get the message to go away. In the end, he met a suicidal machine. One bent on ending its own existence because having a choice was life. Blackmailed into it, Albert filed the necessary petition on the machine’s behalf and found himself in all sorts of trouble. Lucky for him, the same Theo he’d rescued, was in the position to rescue him.
As the story goes on, all kinds of secrets were revealed about the Dome. How everything Albert had known from the beginning might not have been all of the truth. How information addicts might not be fully in control of why they were addicted. He entered the world of revolutionaries and renegades all because he helped a machine file a petition.
All in all, the book was a great read. It’s a scary culmination of what could possibly happen if we actually fulfill our dream of achieving AI. There were times where the conversations between characters dragged on way longer than they needed to. I’m sure they were there to put forth some important information, but my mind would shut down partway through. It was fun watching Albert grow from practically a drone to an intelligent person who could connect the dots with an eerie speed and accuracy. I sure hope he continues to be that way in the next book. There are so many great characters throughout this entire book. Theo, Ucho, June, Marcus (one of my favorite good/bad guys), Father, and many more. It was a great world to be a part of for awhile.