Big Data Is Watching You! Set sometime in the distant future, Earth has been patented and now is called Goozle Earth. Life spans have increased and the only law that is recognized is the terms of service. Our protagonist for this kooky adventure is Smith. Smith is a self-confessed moron that works for Celebrity Solutions as a Level 5 publicist. His world is turned upside down when he meets Julia, who lives outside of the system and informs Smith that his freedom and happiness is a lie and that he and everyone else living within Goozle Earth is living in a dystopian society. But the only problem with that is Smith isn’t sure what that exactly means.
This has been a hard review for me to write. Not because I didn’t enjoy the book because I did mostly. I just didn’t know how to approach the main criticism I had with this book without being too harsh on the author of this book. After all comedy is subjective, what I find unfunny others might find funny, but the truth is from my perspective the comedy in this book just doesn’t work at all or is it because in my opinion this feels more like a serious science fiction novel that’s masquerading as a comedy? I’m unsure how to answer that question. Even after finishing this novel I can’t answer that question. It’s been bugging me and it’s still bugging now. However, for this reviewer sanity, I have to deem this as the weakest link in this otherwise good novel.
The story, however, is a good one for the most part it’s about corporations and their policies buying influence with people in power. How social media has overtaken our everyday life after all we spend an average of nine hours a day (8 hours and 41 minutes to be exact) looking at our phones, checking out our social media accounts. Also, how our obsessions with celebrities verges on deity worship. All interesting threads to follow for this novel and Bruce Hartman does a good job interweaving them together into a coherent story. The building of this world is very detailed and quite interesting as well. Bruce Hartman feeds us snippets of this throughout the novel and details how our world turned into their world. If we could forget the comedy aspect for just a second, then Bruce Hartman would have a good novel in his hands. I would even say this a very interesting social commentary about our generation. But I can’t forget that a major element of this novel (the comedy) just doesn’t work and as much as I would love to sweep that under the carpet I can’t. Which upsets me because this book is a good read. However, even the strongest element of the book (the story) falls apart near the end of the novel. Which I can’t really go into unfortunately without divulging major spoilers.
So will you like it? This is a tough one like I’ve said comedy is subjective you may love the comedy in this novel. If you do, then you’re probably going to take away a lot from this novel. However, if like me, you don’t, then your only hope is that you enjoy the story which for the first three quarters is a pretty strong story, but it’s let down by the final act. So will you like it? I feel this book will divide opinion. This maybe a good book to pick up at the Library if you see it on the shelves, but I couldn’t recommend you parting with your money for it.
About the Author
Bruce Hartman has worked as a pianist, music teacher, bookseller and attorney and has been writing fiction for many years. His first novel, PERFECTLY HEALTHY MAN DROPS DEAD, won the Salvo Press Mystery Novel Award and was published by Salvo Press in 2008. His second book, THE RULES OF DREAMING, was published by Swallow Tail Press in May 2013. Kirkus Reviews selected THE RULES OF DREAMING as one of its “Top 100 Indie Books of 2013.” Another mystery, THE MUSE OF VIOLENCE, was released in October 2013.
Bruce Hartman’s first non-mystery novel was published in April 2015. A BUTTERFLY IN PHILADELPHIA is a satirical comic novel and at the same time a coming of age story, though not YA fiction (because of some of the themes). Readers’ Favorite Book Reviews gave the book Five Stars and called it “one of the strange, comic masterpieces that you’re quite lucky to run across once in a very great while.”
Continuing in the humorous vein, a new novel, BIG DATA IS WATCHING YOU, is scheduled for release in early November. Subtitled “A comic dystopia,” this book explores and satirizes the impact of Big Data and the “Internet of Things” in a slightly futuristic world. To quote Groucho Marx: “Humor is reason gone mad.”
THE PHILOSOPHICAL DETECTIVE, subtitled “The True Story of An Imaginary Gentleman,” was published in 2014. It explores the boundary between literary fiction and the mystery genre – and as always in Hartman’s fiction, between fiction and reality. If you’re not sure whether you’d like it, try downloading a free ebook on Amazon and Kobo entitled MURDER CONSIDERED AS ONE OF THE FINE ARTS, a self-contained short story which forms the first part of The Philosophical Detective.
Bruce Hartman lives with his wife in Philadelphia.