AntiAmerica, by T. K. Falco

Eight stars

I was recently approached by T.K. Falco to review their debut novel about the perils of cyber-espionage. Veiled in secrecy and a lot of poignant events that could play out any day now, I dove in, hoping to find something to my liking. America’s foundation is somewhat rattled by the presence of an anarchist group calling themselves AntiAmerica. Their attempts to bring down the government by any means necessary have been garnering much media attention, though this is not the reason Alanna Blake has been keeping her eye on these hacktivists. Her ex-boyfriend has gone missing and there are rumours he may have joined the cause. When Alanna is approached by federal agents to help them locate Javier, she is sceptical at first, but their dogged determination has forced Alanna to use some of her own hacking skills to stay one step ahead. While Alanna digs deeper, she learns that the underbelly of AntiAmerica is more than simply bombing cities and hacking into banks. It includes work through the Dark Net, a place that most people would never dare creep. While she is being contacted by a mysterious hacker, Alanna seeks to find Javier before the feds have the chance, as they are sure to enact maximum punishment for the events stunning the American public. The race is on and there is little time to waste, especially as someone appears to be watching Alanna at every turn. She may have to work harder than she thought, while revealing secrets she vowed would never see the light of day. Falco offers up an interesting premise in this piece, which will surely impress those who enjoy espionage novels with a 21st century spin. The jury is still out for me, though I was able to devour the story in a single sitting.

I am the first to admit that I am not as tech savvy as many in the world today, but I am able to communicate effectively to convey my opinions (case in point here). However, there is something about cyber-espionage that I find interesting. Perhaps, that it is faceless and can be perpetrated in so many ways. T.K. Falco, the self-proclaimed nomad blogger brings the reader an interesting story here, full of twists and dramatic effect. Alanna Blake proves to be an interesting character who suits the role of protagonist perfectly. A runaway, Alanna has learned to make it on the streets of Miami and stay one step ahead of those looking for her. With ties to the hacking world, Alanna has honed her skills and knows how to clean-up her digital breadcrumbs. Foisted into this mission to locate her ex-boyfriend, Alanna will do whatever she can to keep him safe without blowing her own cover. Faced with a slew of hackers and people seeking to bring her down, Alanna relies on her skills, which appear to be plentiful. The handful of other characters who pepper the pages of this book help shape the intrigue, which does not stop until the last sentence. Taking on many roles, Falco is able to shape their story effectively with a decent-sized cast. The story itself is well-paced and keeps the reader’s attention. Its brevity makes it difficult to stray too far off the beaten path, but Falco effectively develops the story with just enough mystery to keep the reader guessing. Interestingly enough, a friend of mine was approached to read this book, but had to decline. She mentioned that she could “not have this title seen on my blog”. Has America reached such a point that there is fear to even be seen to read something that may profess a desire to rock the boat? Need we worry that reading or speaking out against troublesome practices might see a person ostracized, or worse? Should anything that may upset those who sit atop the crazed political pyramid be hidden away and read under bedcovers, as the aforementioned reviewer might be feeling with her refusal to have her name listed as someone caught flipping the pages of this text? Talk of anarchy and overthrow of America might be in order if this is the only way to shake some sense back into things. Then again, that’s just my opinion as I exert my freedoms here in Canada.

Kudos, T.K. Falco, for opening a discussion that needs to be had. I can only hope you will be back with more in the coming years.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: