See No Evil

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See No Evil

Last Free Dates: 10th Oct 16 to 14th Oct 16
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...An interesting piece of future history describing societal fall viewed through social media and, unusually, written in second person....

You have been obsessed with social media from a young age, and are one of the first to adopt the screen and CPU implant in your hand that lets you see everything online. But when flooded with minutae, seeing the big picture can become impossible…

This is extremely unusual in that it is written in second person. The first three pages are designed to create as vague a background as possible to allow the greatest number of readers to view the ‘you’ as themselves. I will say now that as someone who doesn’t fit the background in most ways, (e.g. I’m not American so I didn’t go to a High School) it kept me a step back from the story, watching rather than being immersed. For example, my rather irreverent thought when it came to describing surgery implanting a screen in someone’s palm was “Talk to the hand”.

I did start this thinking it was going to be the standard bash on social media written by someone who has never used it. Instead it is a very precise skewering of a certain type of social media user who will be extremely familiar to certain readers: the type that spending their entire date on their phone talking about the date instead of actually, you know, having the date….

It has chapters named for the four seasons, starting with spring and ending with winter. The actual story is less of a person getting an implanted device, and more about the slow fall of the society he lives in while he spends time on trivialities online. Mixing recognisable events with fictitious ones it is a fascinating piece of future history with some disturbingly recognisable issues from today.

The ‘you’ he describes will be almost immediately recognisable to anyone who has grown up in the information age – commenting on posts, dumping on twitter, trolling, etc. and not noticing things in real life until the news crosses their screen. (His failure to verify sources or research puts him firmly at the consumer end of the social media spectrum). The life he describes is one already lived by several Z-list celebs, who post everything to social media to try to get news and followers. They don’t need an implanted device, just a phone is enough, and the creation of online echo chambers by removing all negative feedback.

However I will say that mocking social change caused by social media is something to be careful of. Arab Spring, anyone?

It is easy to read, with a high standard of writing, spelling, and grammar. The presentation is basic and does not detract from this. This is less fiction and more future-history, and the unusual choice of the second person really does make it stand out.

While this will be interesting to those interested in political, sociological, and societal trends, I think it would be of great interest to YA readers, who may find it immediately relatable – and disturbing – since most of them will be familiar with the type of trends the author describes. However it is a slightly dry read, and since I read similar stories about such privacy and control fears from the early days of the web, it didn’t have quite as much impact as it should (“Happy goldfish bowl forever.” to those that catch the reference.).

An interesting piece of future history describing societal fall viewed through social media and, unusually, written in second person.

Rating: 3
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