Sunday, 5 June 2011

Book Review: Tag by Simon Royle

Tag (The Zumar Chronicles)As with fantasy sci-fi hasn't been one of my favoured genres in the past but I'm being open minded and the synopsis for Tag sounded great so I thought it was worth a look. Set 100 years from now, Jonah Oliver is called in to do some pro-bono work for UNPOL, formerly INTERPOL. He is an arbitrator and is asked to interrogate a prisoner who has requested him by name. That prisoner, Jibril Muraz, makes some astonishing revelations, showing up Jonah's life as a web of lies and pulling him into the battle to save the lives of 6.3 billion people.

The future isn't all that different from now , but the world has seen what seems to be a credible evolution of current technology. Unfortunately one of the biggest changes to technology has been the introduction of the dev stick, basically storing a person's identity and ripe for abuse by Big Brother types. I would describe Tag as futuristic rather than sci-fi, it seems like a worrying plausible future rather than anything too fanciful. There is plenty of new jargon (mostly quickly understandable) and nations no longer exist, replaced with various geographics on Earth, Mars and the Moon. The author has created an amazingly detailed future!

The Tag law is coming up for a Popvote, where everyone has to electronically cast their ballot. The Tag law extends the concept of the dev stick by having it implanted into the individual, further increasing the ability of the authorities to monitor their every activity. It's a scary prospect, and with the failure of the introduction of ID cards in the UK not so long ago it shows one possible future route we should all be trying to avoid.

I thought the plot was great. It was relevant and thought-provoking, and the cast of characters provided some interesting dynamics. I really like Jonah, who tells most of the story from his point of view, and Jibril who is a major figure in the movement against the Tag law. The pace accelerated towards the end, with a lot of tension created as the reader waited to find out if the cleansing of billions of people considered to be inferior could be prevented.

However Tag is quite a long book, and I found it a bit slow at the start. It took me a while to get into it and I think a tighter edit, removing some of the parts that were more tell than show, would have been good. Sometimes, with the descriptions of characters in particular, I like a bit of room to build my own picture of them and too many details stiffle that. There were also a few typos I noticed, although not so many that I found them distracting.

The concept is great and I almost felt like I could see the future. This book is a bit sci-fi and a bit crime thriller with a dash of romance, and with a bit of tweaking could be really very good indeed.

Format: Kindle, review copy
My Rating: 3*

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