Living in America means taking things for granted. We assume there will always be water to drink, food to eat, and electricity to keep the lights burning. We expect roads to be in good repair, buildings to remain standing, and VNet to keep humming along. But what happens when the foundation upon which we build our lives is shattered by an act of terrorism? What happens when we look to the sky and see planes diving for the ground?
A really enjoyable piece of near-future sci-fi. The premise of this book is fairly simple – somewhere in the fairly near future, society has collapsed and rebuilt itself with the addition of the “veneer”, the supposedly innate ability of the people to shape their world to look like whatever they want it to look like. When a young man starts to see underneath the veneer, he starts on a track that leads him to attempt to take down the system. Helping him are his girlfriend and best friend; against him, an entire system of secret agents, plus his childhood nemesis. The main question here is an interesting one. What would the world be like if we could shape it to suit our desires, like we can online now? The veneer is a means of control for the corporations – things look pretty, so no one questions what the world is like without it. A single corrupt company essentially controls the world, and their agents enforce the control using deadly force, if necessary. The young characters are well drawn and strongly motivated, whether they’re good or evil. I do have some issues with how the author treats homosexuality, but overall I was really engaged by the writing and the book as a whole.
All of this takes place in a world saturated and motivated by media. With implanted streams that go right into our brains. It takes place in more or less the present day in some alternate universe and even though some of the tech feels like it’s a few years out, it seems very plausible. This feels like speculative fiction.