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CTRL S by Andy Briggs #BookReview

Life in the near future’s NOT ALL BAD. We’ve reversed global warming, and fixed the collapsing bee population. We even created SPACE, a virtual-sensory universe where average guys like Theo Wilson can do almost anything they desire.

But ALMOST ANYTHING isn’t enough for some. Every day, normal people are being taken, their emotions harvested – and lives traded – to create death-defying thrills for the rich and twisted.

NOW THEO’S MOTHER HAS DISAPPEARED. And as he follows her breadcrumb trail of clues, he’ll come up against the most dangerous SPACE has to offer: vPolice, AI Bots and anarchists – as well as a criminal empire that will KILL TO STOP HIM finding her .

CTRL S by Andy Briggs book cover

Title: CTRL S | Author: Andy Briggs | Publisher: Orion Publishing Group | Pub. Date: 28th November 2019 | Pages: 416 | ISBN: 9781409184652 | Genre: Science Fiction | Language: English | Starred Review: No | Source: Publisher

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CTRL S Review

‘CTRL S’ is one of those books that has a load of good ideas but zero engagement. I really enjoyed the first quarter or so of it, but the more I read the less I found myself caring about the characters or what happened to them. That’s disappointing, because there’s a lot of promise here. Ultimately, though, it ended up being very forgettable.
The book is partly set in a virtual reality would (SPACE) and so the blurb inevitably compares it to ‘Ready Player One’. It’s really nothing like that book though, free of its somewhat oppressive geekiness and featuring a detective story rather than an extended quest. Those are, for me at least, both pluses, so I had high hopes for the book, but they got dampened by the dull characters.
The plot concerns a group of students in future London, the hero being one of the group called Theo. When his mother disappears he and his friends investigate, uncovering a vast criminal network operating in both cyberspace and the real world.
There are two things that work really well in the book. The first is that it has a great sense of place. Nu London (as it is termed in the book) is a convincing evolution of the modern day city, and Andy Briggs throws in enough detail to make it interesting. SPACE is similarly believable, a virtual world based on London but with subtle (and not so subtle differences). There are touchpoints that connect the real and cyber worlds, allowing the characters to flit between them.
The other element I enjoyed is the level of detail on future tech. Again, the advancements Briggs describes are credible and fun. They are recognisable enough that they don’t take a lot of explaining, but different enough to be entertaining. One of the central concepts is the books is that of virtual emotions, an interesting idea that Briggs explores in detail.
The problem, as I noted at the start, is that none of it is very engaging. There’s loads of action, peril and running around, but I never connected with the characters enough to be truly interested. As a result I found myself whizzing through the book, wishing it over so I could pick up something else. That’s never a good sign, and it’s a shame because there’s so much here that’s good.

You can find this book at many retailers via clicking on the appropriate link on Goodreads (Buying direct from retailers is a good way to support indie authors); however, in the spirit of supporting literacy programs, we would like to point out that you may be able to purchase this book through BetterWorldBooks.

Published inScience Fiction Book ReviewsUnstarred Reviews
©Sci-Fi & Scary 2019
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