Are we truly free in this digital age?

I Am No One - Patrick Flanery

Jeremy O’Keefe is a German history professor who is an expert on the Stasi and surveillance on the population. He’s lived in England for the last decade and has come home to take up a position at New York University.  He renews his relationship with his daughter but suffers from loneliness.  As he ponders his life and the decisions he’s made in the past, he begins to suspect that he is being spied upon.  He begins to receive mysterious boxes containing voluminous records of everything he’s done online.  Why would anyone care about a man who lives an ordinary life enough to put such surveillance on him?  Is he paranoid?  Is his memory impaired or could he be doing this to himself?  Is his past catching up to him?  Or is Jeremy an unreliable narrator?

 

This is an interesting look at privacy, freedom, memory and fear of terrorism. What I liked about it was that it’s not only a study on surveillance and how and why it could be done in today’s digital age but it’s also a deep character study on how that surveillance affects the one spied on, how it breaks down that person’s defenses, causing doubt about one’s own sanity to set in.  The growing tension in this book is palpable.  It gave me chills.

 

On the negative side, I’ve never been a fan of stream of consciousness writing and there are parts of this book that employ that technique, with very long sentences and paragraphs in a rambling manner, which tended to lose me. But not all of the book is written like that and it seemed that the author was using the technique in certain sections possibly to show the discord that was occurring in Jeremy’s mind.

 

By the end of this book, you’ll be changing all of your passwords and wondering about the logic of going online at all. And you’ll be thinking about this book for a long time to come.  Recommended.

 

I was given this book by the publisher through NetGalley in return for an honest review.