iROMANCE When mild mannered accountant Otis receives a stray text from an old friend, he’s pulled into a world of technological and industrial intrigue. Turns out, the old friend has been brutally murdered, and conveniently, just as he receives this mysterious text, he encounters the highly competent and well informed Cynthia. Now, when Cynthia entered the picture, I thought the novel would travel down a certain path common to books written by guys for guys because Cynthia’s physical appearance is described in detail. She’s the classic gorgeous and brilliant Asian babe who also happens to pile on the makeup and dress like a hooker. However, iRomance is most decidedly not that book. So brave the thigh high boots and eyeliner and continue reading.
Because iRomance is about much more than a gorgeous female spy inexplicably hitting on an accountant. The novel touches on the deep social and political divide of the US, disruptive technology, artificial intelligence, ecologic disaster and the danger of acting only out of personal self interest. In short, the novel describes how to remain human in inhumane times.
Cynthia and Otis band together to solve the mystery and travel through a near future US that has split along rural/urban lines. The rural Confederacy is a hypocritical quasi-religious dictatorship, while the Urban Confederacy is a technologically enhanced nanny state. The author’s clearly favours the Urban version (as do I), but he does display the pitfalls of both. During their travels, the pair encounter many interesting people who share all sorts of interesting pieces of information on a variety of subjects. The plot twists and turns then concludes with a bang. Overall, I found the resolution satisfying.
On the minus side, I found a few formatting and autocorrect errors in the text, but these don’t distract from the reading experience. One major plot twist could have used a bit more preparation; Otis’s high degree of personal flexibility might be foreshadowed. And pulling the prose into closer third person and reducing word repetition would most definitely improve the quality of the read.