This was an advanced reader copy for the August 2018 publication. There are minor spoilers ahead.
Author: Gretchen McNeil
As much as I like a good mystery, these social media goes wild types just aren’t for me. My love of Black Mirror survived “Nosedive,” but any interest I had in The Orville died with “Majority Rule.” Part of my issue comes from the idea of ‘everyone watching’ being all that inspires particular social behaviors from people. Heck, bad behavior doesn’t technically have the response promised in these shows either (see: the Paul brothers). In our world, you can be the dumbest of shits on a widely watched platform – and be either rewarded or hardly punished for inhuman / rude behavior.
I suppose it’s a question of smoke and mirrors. Both previous references focus on the smoke, and I’m idealizing the possibility of a mirror.
I digress. Back to the book!
The entire premise had extremely realistic parts (i.e. the sale of the penal system) and longer term Hunger Games thrills, but it struck way too close to home. There are too few steps between our current for profit prison system and #murdertrending. Maybe I’m just jaded, but the inability for justice to reach particular people and it’s overreach toward others happens too frequently in real life for me to get any joy from reading this book.
Maybe that’s the point. Maybe #murdertrending is a hard to read commentary on the American prison system. Based on the “comedy” the author suggests, I’m not so sure.
Outside of premise – there’s a clear lack of development all around. Characters jump from one personality to another without clear growth. A lot of the twists were just personality jumps, which by the end had become signals that something outside the reader’s purview would happen. Another review on Goodreads compared it to The Purge meets Hunger Games, which I thought was fitting.
Something that caught my attention – some reviewers are commenting on this book as a ‘debut.’ That is not the case. McNeil has a number of other books. Mass murder mysteries (debatable on the mystery side) seem to be her bread and butter, so I can’t explain the issues with this one as being the result of a debut. I mean, her book TEN comes out a movie soon, so either she’s a crazy amazing publicist for herself (a talent and skill few authors seem to have), this one’s a fluke, or I’m not her audience.
Ultimately, not a fan of the writing or the plot, but I do have to say – the Free Form (Disney) marketing team id an amazing job at making something lackluster shine on the back cover.